The Wicked + The Divine - Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson (Review)

Amazon Summary: Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. The team behind critically thermonuclear floor-fillers Young Avengers and Phonogram reunite to start a new, ongoing, superhero fantasy with a beautiful, oversized issue. Welcome to The Wicked + The Divine, 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.

Rating: 4 / 5

Review: Welp, Image Comics has come through again and added a second MUST-READ series to my collection. I tore through the current issues this week and am now sulking while I wait for the next issue, along with Saga. I wasn't sure going in - the synopsis was so grandiose that it seemed like it might be easy to miss the mark. But Gillen and McKelvie manage to gracefully give the story a sense of playfulness despite the darker themes.

By making the Gods in this universe literal 'Pop Stars' the constructs of celebrity, and the power that naturally comes from it, is fascinating and well explored. In this way they are able to receive the public adoration that seems to be one of their main driving forces. The idea of entertainment & the media being revered as a modern form of religion pops up a decent amount in contemporary fiction. It reminded me in a very indirect way of Neil Gaiman's book American Gods which personifies these forces. I know it's a popular book, but I wasn't a huge fan. I found TW+TD explored these themes in a manner that was more engaging and not nearly as heavy handed.

There are a decent amount of PoC in the cast (including our lead!) as well as a trans character which was really exciting. The story itself isn't as tight as Saga (sorry, it's just my benchmark for A++ quality right now) and the world-building isn't as immersive but it's plenty interesting. To be fair - there's a LOT less material out right now (only 5 issues) and it has a great foundation to build the story off of. Occasionally the characterization was a little flat - I did like Lucifer but some of her dialogue was a little cliché. I enjoyed the book so much I almost feel guilty writing that, but it definitely crossed my mind multiple times. And there was one scene in particular at the Morrigan's show in the subway that went on for a few pages and I had no idea what was going on. Maybe it was just me, but something about the panels/dialogue confused the heck out of me. Art is a bit more of the same - it doesn't touch Fiona Staples (I don't think anyone does??) but I thought it was clean and engaging once I started getting into the story.

Final Thoughts: Hiiighly recommend! If you see this, pick it up and give it a try - it's universally likable. I would suggest reading at least the first 3 issues before making a judgment on it. I will be happily continuing on with this series!

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