I have a lot of comics I read on the regular. A lot of Marvel, a little bit of DC, but for the most part, it’s creator owned stuff I read. Series like Saga, Fables, Sex Criminals, Bitch Planet, The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys and Princess Ugg among many, MANY others populate my universe with a staggering amount of creativity and story that it’s almost hard to keep up.
However, out of all the comics I read, there is no comic I look forward to getting in my box every month more than Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s The Wicked + The Divine.
I’ve gushed about this series before and for good reason. I became a fan of Gillen and McKelvie’s after I read Phonogram and it honestly was the series I associated with them the most. It was bizarre and honest take about what it feels like to have music take roots in your soul.
The Wicked + The Divine is in the same family tree, but the further in it gets, the more obvious it is that it’s completely its own beautiful thing. The premise is simple enough: every 90 years, twelve gods reincarnate themselves into the bodies of teenagers and young adults. For two years, they perform “miracles” and bring in devotees. Once the two years are up, they die. The series is focused around Laura, a devotee to the latest pantheon who finds herself beginning to be entangled in their affairs after Lucifer finds herself potentially being falsely convicted for murder.
The series balances so many things beautifully. The line between fan and friend that begins to blur when you begin to step inside an industry, the personalities your heroes keep behind closed doors, and wrestling with mortality, depression, and grief. However, in the latest issue that came out this week, we see that there might be more at hand as the character Ananke pulls back the curtain on the backstory of the Recurrence and perhaps some other strings she’s pulling as well. Is there deception and a potential apocalypse on hand? I guess we’ll see.
What’s also great about the series is the characters. It could have been so easy for Gillen to rely on archetype when he created the gods, but this book isn’t here to be simple and it ends up making the characters all the more real. Our main character is a biracial young woman who’s stumbling her way through her late teens as she tries to figure out what she wants with her life. There’s Cassandra, a trans woman journalist who remains skeptical of what the Gods are really here for. Inanna is a sweetheart of a God who made some horrible mistakes as he entered godhood. Baal Hadad is the most Kanye of the Pantheon, but he has a soft spot in his heart for Minerva, the youngest of the Pantheon who won’t live to see 15.
And then there’s Baphomet.
Baphomet was a character I didn’t expect to love as much as I do. The first time he’s introduced, he’s holding a head of a God and spewing terrible puns. He’s cocky and arrogant and I just wanted to push him into a wall. However, the moment I saw him take off his glasses with a flawless empathetic look in his eye that McKelvie needs all the credit for, something flipped. In the past few issues, we’ve seen that while that is indeed true that he is a cocky bastard, it’s a front to his vulnerability and insecurities over his death and being the “false God.” He recognizes that he isn’t a “good” person, but he goes to bat for the people he’s close with. He might also be foolish enough to make mistakes that could cost him greatly. He’s half the reason I’m so terrified and excited for #10.
Can you tell I’m trying not to spoil this for you? This series is so deep and rich an arc and a half in that there’s so much to talk about to what makes it so great. Not only is Gillen and McKelvie’s work on writing and art respectively so fantastic, the work Matt Wilson is doing on color is probably some of the best I’ve seen him do. Especially in #8 where he had to color a transcendent rave and it goes above and beyond of what I could have even dreamed of. Clayton Cowles also busts his ass on lettering, giving several of the Gods a distinctive visual voice when they speak. My favorite one in that regard tends to be Woden. While he himself is the biggest prick in the entire series, the robotic visuals Cowles gives him when he speaks gives a better feel for just who that character is.
I love The Wicked + The Divine. I love that it’s an urban fantasy that doesn’t shy away from modern life. I love that the characters are complicated and not always good people, making the fantastic situations they’re in more realistic. I love how deep it runs. I love the art and how drift compatible McKelvie and Wilson are. I love the covers, especially the art they get for the B covers and I’m so mad my LCS hasn’t gotten in the B covers for the past two issues. I love that it inspired the most ridiculous scene in Sex Criminals ever. I love everything about it and I want to scream about it like a devotee to everyone I know.