Faust first became aware of The Wicked + The Divine when I heard that Milkfed Criminal Masterminds, Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction, would be adapting it for television. Already loving much of what they were involved with, the mere mention piqued my interest. It was just a matter of time before I’d get my hands on a copy.
The Wicked + The Divine, or WicDiv, as fans with a more hurried attitude call it, is a comic series written by Kieron Gillen and illustrated by Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson. It has a high fantasy concept which I struggled for at least two days to describe to Michael. I’ll let Image give you their summary first:
Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. The team behind critical tongue-attractors like Young Avengers and PHONOGRAM reunite to create a world where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever. Collects THE WICKED + THE DIVINE #1-5
I believe I came up with: It’s like Sandman meets The Vampire Lestat as the Wu-Tang Clan.
The Pantheon, as they’re called, is a group of pop stars, loosely connected through their stage identities of gods. The world mostly sees their god-complexes as stage theatrics and ego, but in reality these are normal humans who discovered they were the incarnate of a deity, given fame and superpowers, but also a lifespan of a mere two years. The deities are drawn from different religions and represent god-types more than any one mythology. Among the twelve: Lucifer, of course, Amaterasu, Baal, Morrigan, Baphomet, and Woden.
The story starts at an Amaterasu concert, attended by superfan Laura. Laura gets invited backstage by Lucifer to find Amaterasu being interviewed by skeptical, and aptly named, journalist Cassandra. Assassins attack during the interview, but Lucifer kills them with a snap of her fingers (yes, her). This act puts Lucifer on the outs with the rest of the Pantheon, who don’t want to turn humanity against them with shows of powers that cannot be explained away as mere special effects.
Laura is our in to this world. She’s a college student obsessed with the Pantheon. She’s placing herself in the position of groupie to be close to the members and finds herself positioned to be helpful to Lucifer. Laura has aspirations. Lucifer is confident, but she knows that after stepping so forcefully into the wrong kind of spotlight, she’s going to be in trouble. Laura, and us through her, gets to witness the spectacle.
Everything in this book centers on glamour: the glamour of gods and idols, fame, fandom, illusion, and power. The artwork supports and intensifies this with a smooth line and colorful palate. McKelvie and Wilson beautifully depict these characters, occasionally giving a likeness just close enough to be reminiscent of a particular pop star. Lucifer has an Annie Lennox look circa “Sweet Dreams” while Baal made me think of Kanye or Jay-Z, roughly.
Much of the fun of reading WicDiv is witnessing the “performances” of the gods and how they clash against each other. The ending offered a twist that definitely has me looking forward to volume 2.
Kieron Gillen beat me to the punch in pairing music with the book. Here’s the Spotify playlist for The Wicked + The Divine.