Saturday, 1 August 2015

The Wicked + The Divine Vol 1: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie

The Wicked + The Divine Vol 1: The Faust Act, written by Kieron Gillen and illustrated by Jamie McKelvie, is a comic about a variety of gods incarnating as teenagers for a limited time. This first volume in an ongoing series collects issues #1–5.

Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. The team behind critical tongue-attractors like Young Avengers and PHONOGRAM reunite to create a world 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.

This comic series is less... obvious... or predictable than the blurb makes it seem. It's set in a world where every ninety years the gods reincarnate into teenagers, are pop stars (or the period equivalent) and then die within two years. The last time this happened was the 1920s. It's happening again now.

The story is told from the point of view of Laura, a normal teenager who is a fan of the god music stars and wants to see them all live in concert. Then, when she passes out at a concert, she becomes more mixed up with them than she anticipated. In particular, she finds an affinity for Luci (-fer), who quickly also finds herself in trouble. In her quest to help, Laura gets mixed up with even more of the gods (I particularly liked the Morrigan, for whom I have a bit of a soft spot) and a journalist who has a Masters on the recurrence and a lot of god-directed anger.

I enjoyed The Wicked + The Divine a lot. It was a consistently entertaining read that had a diverse cast and was fairly irreverent towards the gods. It is especially fairly liberal towards who gets to be which god, with a few gender (and ethnicity) switches in the mix. For example Lucifer is female, Inanna is male and Woden looks like he (?) just stepped out of Tron for some reason. The gods all have some aspects of their traditional powers/identities but less literally than many interpretations will have it. I also enjoyed that it was set in London rather than New York or LA, because non-US settings are always refreshing.

This first volume contains a section of story which, although it's self-contained for one character, is obviously part of a bigger story. I can't wait to read more. The second volume has just recently come out, but it was sold out at our local store, sadface.

I highly recommend The Wicked + The Divine to fans of mythology. Kind of any mythology. A rather wide swath of cultures make an appearance. It's an engaging and interesting story that makes good use of the comic format.

4.5 / 5 stars

First published: 2014, Image Comics
Series: The Wicked + The Divine Volume 1 of ongoing series (vol 2 just came out). Collects issues #1–5
Format read: Trade paperback
Source: Comic book shop in Melbourne

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