The Wicked + The Divine was the series that sold me on the pitch and then tried pretty hard to lose me on the second issue. The third issue was decent enough, but this fourth issue sticks the landing. What I’m not sure of is this: did it stick the landing because it was slowly building to it, or in spite of getting lost a little bit on the way there. The first arc of the series closes things off with a bang (or maybe more like a snap, yuk yuk yuk), killing off some beloved characters and bringing previously background ones a little bit more into the fore. The conclusion is particularly interesting because it sets things up in terms of where the characters might go next in terms of their growth and not in terms of plot. There’s no foreshadowing of the, “Oh, look, it’s an evil god, viciously swearing vengeance on our heroine for an imagined slight!” It’s a character put into a new situation that opens up a lot of different avenues, most of which are super interesting.
Gillen pulls some classic tricks he’s used before in terms of under-writing himself and then assuming that it’s an accepted thing. In this issue, Luci apologizes to someone for making fun of them because they’re trans. Did I miss that? I try to be pretty supportive of that kind of diversity in comics, but I haven’t missed an issue of this series yet, and not only do I not remember the slight they’re addressing, but I don’t remember it being about whether or not a person is trans or anything about LGBTQ issues. I’m not surprised by the revelation, but it feels like the revelation is happening in the denouement from it, if that makes sense.
On the flip side, one thing I think he does extremely well in this issue is pacing. There are a few things that happen on the page turn, or that take a little extra time to breathe that I hit you just right. In a world of, “We only have 22 pages to tell a story, everything has to be awesome always,” Gillen lets you live in some of the moments and makes sure some of the more dramatic ones hit you in the gut like they should. This is an issue that could be studied for pacing for aspiring students of the genre.
Meanwhile, McKelvie and Wilson keep on cranking out some of the best work they’ve ever done. If I was hard-pressed to be critical of it, I would say that McKelvie has a little bit of a tendency to recycle his faces, but shit, so did Kirby, so did Curt Swan. If he leans on that a little bit and makes the rest of the book look fucking amazing, I’m not going to complain. I don’t know how Gillen does it, but he coaxes the best out of McKelvie on a consistent basis, in a way that even my fanboy-crush Matt Fraction couldn’t back on Uncanny X-Men.
I was lukewarm on this series for so long that I wasn’t planning on sticking with it through the next arc. This issue alone sold me on keeping up with it. Let that be what you take away from this rambling review.
Writer: Kieron Gillen Artist: Jamie McKelvie Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 10/22/14 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital