Now, I’ve never read Phonogram but based on Kieron Gillen’s letter in The Wicked + The Divine, I probably should. If this book is in any way a spiritual sequel to Phonogram, I need to get me some of that.
When Gillen and Jamie McKelvie announced The Wicked + The Divine months ago, the excitement surrounding it was palpable, and that only grew with every page and promo image they released. I was on board from the get-go, but I know sometimes I burn myself out with anticipation long before the book is ever released. So when it arrived on stands today, I devoured it in one sitting. Then I re-read it, taking time to savour McKelvie’s art and what could easily be some of Matthew Wilson’s best colour work of his career. It’s subtle when it needs to be, establishing characters with iconic palettes, but when the time comes, he makes the splash pages sing. There’s a luminescence he brings to the page, mixing traditional elements like screentone stippling with more modern filters that make some sequences look unreal without becoming overwhelming. It accents McKelvie’s clean lines even more, and to top it all off, Clayton Cowles lettering choices give the dialogue a distinctive look that suits the overall feel of the book. Visually, this is easily my favourite read this week.
It’s not lacking on story either. The basic premise? Once a century, a gaggle of gods claim human bodies and live through them for a few years. In the past, they didn’t really draw much attention to themselves, or at least not in a way that was provable as divine intervention. This time around, they’re being far less subtle and of course, that’s when crap (and blood, and guts) really hits the fan. It’s not gory for the sake of shocking readers but it doesn’t gloss over traumatic events. The dialogue is snappy, quick to the point, but some characters are delightfully vague as it suits them. It’s clear that Gillen is not coy about tackling some potentially divisive subjects. It’s hard to have any sort of frank discussion about religion or spirituality without offending someone, but in The Wicked + The Divine it never seems to come from a malicious place, as snarky as some character’s comments may be. It’s a well-constructed, quick-witted read that ends on a (pardon my pun) hell of a cliffhanger.
This might be the first time since Sex Criminals that my initial excitement for a series at its announcement only grew ten-fold after the first issue. Do yourself a favour and pick up The Wicked + The Divine #1.