The Wicked + The Divine #1 Review

By: Rob Neil Gruszecki

Sitting around a council table, gods of all kinds are interspersed between skulls of their peers. Skulls that stare inward and occupy the space directly in front of the empty chairs of gods lost. This is the ever impending inevitability that once again they will all return to. Dark hollow sockets and drying, cracked bone. With a snap of the fingers all will be reset and the last remaining entities will start the cycle again on the count of four.

90 years later, gods have begun to take form inside the vessels of young women but only for a short period of time before all is rewritten. These entities contain the immortal power of the blessed and the fervent rage and vengeful force of the demonic and yet with only another simple snap of the fingers, the whole world will change with an explosion.

From the creative team that produced Phonogram and more recently Young Avengers from Marvel Now! comes an epic story of gods, fame, aspiration, wonder, fantasy and murder. Beginning with an interesting and curious look into the past of this world in the first few pages we get a tease of the catalyst for this new world and some cryptic foreshadowing of the might of these cosmic beings among us. Entering the life of Laura, the main eyes which the series is viewed, we get to see the impact of the presence of these eternal concepts inserted into the mortal coil. Lucifer, embodied in a white suit clad woman with the smoking habits of John Constantine and the attitude of Loki is witnessed in parallel to a superstar Amaterasu whose beauty and pure presence is enough to bring all before her to a state of euphoria. These gods exert an aura of rock and roll like Beatlemania as the world around them marvels at their majesty and holy nature. The Wicked + The Divine is a world full of wonder and curiosity that comes crashing down in a big way with the final few pages of this 31 page epic.

On the scale of world building and presentation, Wicked + Divine delivers in a big way with establishing the bizarre world where these reincarnations of gods are taking place. Many representations from a variety of folklore, myth and religion are within the pages of the first issue and McKelvie and Gillen paint a very interesting and exciting universe where this all takes place. Setting up levels of mystery that will unravel over the next few years in this ongoing series, Wicked + Divine definitely plants a hook in the reader early on in the cold open which only gets deeper with an intense cliffhanger that will make it difficult to not pick up the next issue. Although the development of Laura in this first issue is light and we still have yet to really understand or get to know this woman beyond her obsession with Amaterasu, her introduction is one that is compelling and intriguing even if not particularly substantial.

Artistically, the book is as smooth and beautiful as you would expect from Jamie McKelvie and has some of my favorite pages from him. Full pages of violence, bursting forward into the the audience and a gorgeous double page spread portraying the glory of Amaterasu as she mesmerizes a crowd before her all feature magnificent use of perspective and incredible background design and environment building. The colour work from Matthew Wilson is incredible as well and adds so much to these pages in particular. In addition to 2 haunting head shot covers from McKelvie, a third cover from Scott Pilgrim’s Bryan Lee O’Malley is a great focus on Laura and she lays on her bed surrounded by posters of Amaterasu and a tease of Luci over her shoulder.

Written by Kieron Gillen (Three, Phonogram, Iron Man) & Illustrated by Jamie McKelvie (Young Avengers, Phonogram, Defenders), The Wicked + The Divine is so much wrapped neatly into 31 pages. Mystery, Fantasy, Action, Noir and Psychedelia are all boastful facets of this first addition to the series that make for a must-read number one and a unique story of creation.

Rob Neil Gruszecki is a writer, musician and Wednesday warrior

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