Group Review – The Wicked + The Divine (Image Comics)

TWTD_1APublisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Jamie McKelvie
Release Date: 18th June 2014

For this week’s Group Review, Team BCP pile onto Keiron GIllen and Jamie McKelvie’s eagerly anticipated new series, The Wicked + The Divine.  With the bar being set incredibly high by these two with the likes of Phonogram and Young Avengers, surely there’s no way that this new series could possible live up to the hype?  Right?  Well, take a look and see what we thought…

Chris B Says..

This book is so good that the first time I tried to review it my laptop crashed (true story). Seriously though, this is Gillen/McKelvie at their absolute best. The duo seem to be perfectly at home within the context of musically influenced/magical type stories, and there is no finer example of this than what they have crafted here.

Gillen has managed to create a world not unlike his previous excursion, Phonogram, but which somehow seems more adult, or less whimsical. Where Phonogram read as a love letter to the past and the music of the past, it seems that Wic+Div is looking more to the modern era with flashy Churches/La Roux-esque characters and a modern social media-conscious style.

Jamie McKelvie’s art has never looked better, and that’s saying something. Here, it flows beautifully, with a modern, clean and effortless style he is rapidly become synonymous with. However, the addition of bright and bold colours just seems to take it over the edge. The introduction of a new level of gore to McKelvies art is also a welcome one, and while it is sparse enough through the book, it does make me wonder what he’d be capable of in the future.

The cherry on the top of the cake would be the announcement that the book is going to be an ongoing series, as I really don’t want to see it going away any time soon.

Rating: 5/5.

Ross Says..

There’s something curiously moreish about this tale of a girl who goes to a rock concert to see what she believes to be – and indeed, what may actually be – gods, masquerading as the headline acts.

In terms of actual story progression, it’s perhaps a little bit slight – but this is very much a groundwork issue, setting in place a fascinating mythology, some intriguing characterisations, and a whole slew of moral ambiguity, not least of which, you may find yourself rooting for the proverbial Wicked one come the end of the issue. There’s some lovingly researched mythological references in there as well, if that’s your bag. Thankfully though, you don’t need a degree in anthropology to figure out what’s going on, which is nice!

McKelvie’s art is absolutely terrific, clean linework coupling with Wilson’s exceptional work in the colouring department to imbue the book with a hazy, ethereal realism that goes down wonderfully smoothly, even when it’s literally blowing minds.

Overall, this is a wonderfully strong opener – the script is solid, the art direction excellent, and it features a pretty great cliff-hanger to wind up the issue. I for one am looking forward to the places that this is going.

Rating: 4/5.

Chris N Says..

This book has a lot to live up to.

The title is deliciously tempting, almost sinful in its promise of decadent yet heavenly delight, and when you bear in mind the all-star cast of creators and their previous successes including Phonogram and some of Marvel’s top properties, the bar is set very high indeed.

The Wicked + Divine doesn’t so much make it over that bar as levitate over it with effortless cool and a knowing glance.

It’s a story about Gods and artists (which in this world are sometimes the same thing) and how people respond to them, how they act and what happens to them and the people who get caught up in their wake.  There is sassy dialogue, characters I already kind of care about and the promise of a proper story arc to follow.  Throw in the fact that the book looks amazing, full of clean sharp lines, bright colours, impossibly stylish folks and some proper gore and explosions violence and you’re on to a winner.

For a first issue, this has done its job and grabbed my attention. I’ll be paying attention to this series as it develops – and Gillen promises that this is an ongoing title and the end is years away…

O trespass sweetly urged! Give me my sin again.

Rating: 5/5.

Shane Says..

The creative team of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie has created a story and a world where what seems on the surface to be unbelievable to most, is actually the truth. In our world we often view our favorite artists, writers, musicians, actors/actresses as much more than human. In The Wicked + The Divine they are just that, they are actually Gods. It’s an interesting concept and one that could probably get themselves into heated debate, depending on their personal religious beliefs. However, look at it as strictly a piece of well crafted fiction and you have the recipe for a good story.

We are introduced to a handful of characters (although I get the feeling more will follow), and the beginnings to what Gillen says is an ongoing series with an end literally years down the road. Laura seems like a typical 17 year old trying to find her identity, and her role model is God/Musician Amaterasu. After attending a concert where Laura is the last to pass out from the intense, and even referred to orgasmic performance by Amaterasu, she awakens with another visitor of biblical proportions. The story begins to unfold when we get to see the interactions between a reporter and Amaterasu and see the debate about religion and the existence of God. The violence and story seem to continue to build from here, with the surprisingly violent ending leaving you with more questions than answers and a burning desire to sate them as soon as possible.

Gillen is using some delicate subject matter in creating this story. Being a man raised in a religious household I know how types of fiction like this can be ill received. But in my humble opinion, and being able to view said material as fiction and nothing more, I find it utterly fascinating and well thought out. It is true in our society that we tend to put famous people of any status up on a pedestal as if they were gods, and it’s kind of fun to think what if they actually were? The dialogue doesn’t drag or play on the subject matter too heavily but is instead intelligent and does an outstanding job building the groundwork for what should be a fantastic story.

McKelvie’s artwork is very clean, smooth and the colors chosen by Matthew Wilson really bring the panels to life. The characters are distinct and the eyes really drive the story, there is a lot of focus on the eyes and they really tell the emotion and atmosphere of the story. Fantastic artwork with some nicely done “splash” sequences thrown in that most fans should enjoy.

I know I’m ready to see what The Wicked and The Divine will bring us next!

Rating: 4/5.

Gary Says..

Ahh, where to begin? Well for starters this is McKelvie and Gillen doing what they do best [see: Phonogram, Young Avengers].

The combination of Gillen’s snappy dialogue and McKelvie’s gorgeous artwork makes for an immediate and engaging book that also has a darkly gruesome sense of humor to it. Hint: one splash page in particular is so fantastically over-the-top you will absolutely love it.

The wait is over because now we have another great team-up from this creative team. I can only speak for myself but I would definitely want to get my hands on the next issue after reading this one.

Rating: 4/5.

Jules Says..

Wow. Just wow.

It’s probably no surprise that the latest comic from the Phonogram/Young Avengers team of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie is superb, but this is really something special. Maybe it’s because we know the pair are planning this as a years-long ongoing, but it feels like we’re at the start of something epic.

Every 90 years, 12 gods incarnate as humans. For 2 years they are loved and worshipped, then they die. In 2014, what else would those deities be but pop stars? With the sell-by date on fame getting smaller all the time, there’s no better moment to tell a story like this and no better creators to tell it.

Gillen’s dialogue just *pops* off the page, while McKelvie’s clean lines and attention to things like style and detail is just a joy to behold.

In much the same way as Morrison/Quitely, Ennis/Dillon and Bendis/Maleev, the Gillen/McKelvie partnership brings out the very best in each creator.

This is the best first issue of any comic that I’ve read in a long time, easy. Sometimes 5 stars just isn’t enough.

Rating: 5/5.

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