This month’s issue of The Wicked + The Divine was more of a return to the classic Gillen McKelvie Wilson synchronicity of Phonogram, and their collaboration really shines for it. This issue starts with Laura and Cassandra being taken to the headquarters of the gods, taken by Baal to meet Ananke, Set, Athena, Woden, and Amaterasu. After some bad news from the pantheon at Woden’s, Laura relays it to Luci, who is still languishing in snap-free prison, and shit goes from bad to decidedly worse.
For the first time in a couple of months, it feels like the series is hitting its stride walking the line between character development and plot movement. In the last couple issues, there’s been a lot of character development, but without the context of the rules of the universe, it didn’t do much for me as a reader. This month, there’s a lot of Baal in the first third, a lot of the pantheon in the middle, and a lot of Luci in the last third. It’s the sense of narrative balance that the first issue had that I’ve missed. Also, I love any series that posits Actual-God-Kanye-West into a TRON mansion. That’s what I like to imagine the West-Kardashian household is actually like.
McKelvie and Wilson slipped a little bit on this issue, it felt like. They continued to knock it out of the park in terms of location designs and character gestures/facial expressions, but there are a lot of situations where they show us a really lush location and then it disappears for the rest of the page while heads talk to each other. McKelvie’s penciling was on point as always, and Wilson’s coloring was equally perfect, it just felt like they skipped some things, and the issue felt a little more airy. For a series about how majestic and awe-inspiring the gods are every time they show up, it’s been a lot of the gods doing very mundane things. If that’s the point Gillen McKelvie Wilson are trying to make, that’s all well and good... it just makes me as a reader feel like I’ve been sold a bill of goods about this series.
Part of the allure and frustration of this series has been the “Did she/didn’t she” of Luci’s predicament, and in classic WicDiv style, there were no answers to that in this issue, only a deepening of the question. I can only assume all will become clear in the next issue, and part of the reason I’m still picking up the series is that I legitimately have no idea where it’s gonna go after this introductory arc. They’re setting up the world to some level, where we know that there will be a two-year period for these gods, but who knows what kind of story they’ll tell next?
Overall, the series continues to be a lot of gorgeous visual artifice with a lot of frustrating writing. I can’t advocate picking it up for the first time this month, but if you’re still going, I know the feeling: I’m still on the ride, too.
Writer: Kieron Gillen Artist: Jamie McKelvie Pubisher: Image Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 9/17/14 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital