THIS REVIEW OF ‘THE WICKED + THE DIVINE’ IS SPOILER-FREE
By Jami Jones. The celestial pageant that is The Wicked + The Divine is back to entertain and delight, drawing back the curtain so we can glimpse into the lives of gods. The struggle against the darkness continues as the clock ticks down on this Recurrence, and the conflicts of these heavenly creatures are becoming more visible to the humans who are enraptured by them. The Pantheon is fracturing under the pressure of their collective secrets, the historical cycle is almost complete, and the anticipation of the expected unknown has set a slightly manic stage for issue #37.
Issue #36 imparted new knowledge about the nature of the relationship between Ananke and Minerva and fresh insight into future of Persephone. Days in the light are waning, the 90-year nap swiftly approaches, another god is revealed to be more than they were letting on, and a jailbird hops into a cage while a council of heads keep company waiting for their swiftly forgotten sacrificial duties. Writer Kieron Gillen, artist Jamie McKelvie, colorist Matt Wilson and letterer Clayton Cowles hit hard and fast in #36, rolling out the red carpet for the following installment in this tableau.
Issue #37 begins in the past where a familiar scene plays out, but a noticeable component is missing. The caster is immediately reprimanded and learns a wildly important lesson: there is always some force more powerful than you. The weight of the ensuing consequences proves a shared experience, as the reader left to fill in the blanks with their own nightmarish imagery. After this prelude the story moves back to the current Recurrence where Persephone temps fate with a conversation, and Minerva continues to shed her veil of innocence with knowledge that’s seemingly beyond her years. A confrontation with dire repercussions fills the paper firmament with a dance between the the present and the past.
For the uninitiated, Kieron Gillen explores the interactions of these deities from vastly different cultures in a respectful and thoughtful fashion, not relying on stereotypes or previous myths to completely define the characters. Nor does he rely solely on conventional storytelling tools; he’s not constrained to thinking in two dimensions, rather he asks his teammates to join him in creating a comic that is more an experience instead of a simple read.
Jamie McKelvie continues to provide heavenly forms for us to gaze upon. Every page is a study in fashion with each character embodying the epitome of their own definition of cool, making each issue of The Wicked + The Divine beautiful in its stylistic diversity. McKelvie’s skill is not limited to design and character work; in this issue he illustrates an explosive battle that takes place over six pages. And while each combatant is decidedly chic, neither is appealing; McKelvie expresses rage and pain expertly, drawing attention to the emotions at play rather than the (still admittedly dope) wardrobe.
The colors in The Wicked + The Divine are an integral piece to the complete storytelling experience. Matt Wilson’s use of hues can only be described as sublime. Candles don’t illuminate a page, they exude a warmth that soothes the reader through blood-chilling scenes; characters don’t have conversations in the darkness, they emerge from the shadows that seem loathe to let them go. In a book that could become gratuitous and garish without an expert guide, Wilson’s mastery of color is essential .
The Wicked + The Divine continues to be one of the most unique and dynamic books on the market. After thirty-seven issues it is possible that even a pinnacle of the comic book world could become a little stale, but the creative team of Gillen, McKelvie, Wilson & Cowles continue to give readers a reason to unite in search of emotional support in private groups. They pull you into their electric dream and will not let go. You become a part of the story as the story becomes a part of you.
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Jamie McKelvie
Colors by Matt Wilson
Letters by Clayton Cowles
9 out of 10
Check out this four-page preview of ‘The Wicked + The Divine’ #37, courtesy of Image Comics!