Review. Kieron Gillen, The Wicked + The Divine vol. 1

Is it just me, or does it seem like everyone is reading graphic novels these days? The visibility of this medium has surely risen in the last couple of months, at least in my feed. It has also resulted in me trying out the odd graphic work now and again, cause they are really fast reads and fit well when I’m not in the mood for a big book. But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there has always been something missing, some depth, some something that prevents me from loving it all the way. The Wicked + The Divine was no different, alas.

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.

If there is one thing that drew me to this graphic novel, it’s the premise. Gods incarnate as mortal popstars? Can you spell awesome?! My major issue with this volume, however, was the fact that this cool premise is used as a background for a very mediocre plot. While it starts off pretty exciting, it devolves into a rather run-off-the-mill whodunnit. Now don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of cool titbits, but the whole left me pretty underwhelmed. It’s just that, with gods, I expected something less mundane.. Also, I was rather annoyed by the human protagonist. To me, it felt like she was only there to be the substitute for us readers and I was quickly bored of this plot-device and how she was pushing the plot along. It felt weird that, with a whole pantheon on demand, the mortal teenager should get wrapped up in this mess and figure it all out.
Pantheon on demand
While she – Laure was her name, wasn’t it? – was pretty much a bore, the different gods were awesome. Too bad that there characters weren’t explored more. The focus was mainly on Lucifer, rightly so given the plot, but those little snippets of the others just weren’t enough. I finished it left wanting more, so I hope future volumes can bring that. Also, I want more of a display of awesome powers, like the Morrigan did!
The main attraction here, though, is the artwork. I’ve not read that many graphic novels, but The Wicked + The Divine really set the bar for future reads. The pictures are so detailed and the big panels are just stunning. It shows that a lot of thought has gone into this. The vibrant colours and different colour schemes make an accurate portrait of the gods. Take Lucifer, mainly in black and white, whereas the Hindu goddess is bright in yellows and oranges, and these colours are reflected in their personalities. If you want to find a reason to pick this up, the art should be convincing enough, I think. So as a piece of visual art, this graphic novel can contend with the best, but as for the ‘novel’ part, it falls short, unfortunately. I have good hope that future volumes will set this right, but for now, The Wicked + The Divine is a lot of promise but too little fulfillment.

★ ★

Be Wicked, buy the Divine.

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