Tagged: WicDiv

Chris’ Comics: The Wicked & The Divine #22

 

TheWickedAndTheDivine_22-1The Wicked & The Divine #22

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelive, Matt Wilson, Clayton Cowles

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The timing of this issue of The Wicked + The Divine couldn’t be better, given the current drama surrounding the Steve Universe fandom.  Toxic Fandoms are something that affect comics on the regular, i.e. anytime a creator gets death threats for taking a book in an unpopular direction, and it’s cool to see WicDiv attempting to have another discussion about that while pushing it’s narrative forward.

The Wicked & The Divine #22 wraps up the current arc, with an ending that can be best described as “THIS IS FINE!” While I won’t be spoiling the ending here, I’m glad to say the finale of this arc isn’t as much as of endgame for the series as I previously imagined. Yes it definitely wraps up this action heavy arc, but how this book ends sets up a few more arcs nicely. The downside is that the potential for disaster for these gods remains YoUChildrenat an all-time high, as someone may have bitten off a little more then they can chew.

Matt Wilson and Jamie McKelvie’s art for this arc has been nothing short of career defining, and this issue is no different. We get the artistic duo’s most graphically violent scene to date, and I say that well aware that this is a book where heads and people explode on a semi-regular basis. There’s also an amazing double spread (accompanied by some choice Kieron Gillen dialogue) and a nice visual callback to another character at the end that will have long time readers worried about the remaining cast members. McKelvie’s lay out and facial expression are top notch as always, but Wilson really takes things to the next level. “Neon ultra violence” is the best way to describe the colorist’s contributions to this book, with blood reds playing off of bright greens, blues, pinks and whites.  Issue 22 is another gorgeous issue, and it’s hard to imagine a better artist/colorist duo working in comics than McKelvie and Wilson.

Writer Kieron Gillen is also doing some amazing stuff with this book’s dialogue. The humor in this book is great, being perfectly self-aware when it needs to be and completely devastating for maximum effect. There’s a bit where a character does something absolutely savage, but the reasoning behind it is all too sound. It’s shades of gray characterization like that make Gillen such a fantastic writer, and makes the book all the more compelling. There’s also a bit of running gag between Amaterasu and the Norns this issue that’s simultaneously funny, but also manages to show wickedandivine26 (1)how immature and naive Ammy is. Again, I adore how complex and layered this cast is, and am fully expecting to feel all sorts of awful once the creative team starts killing them off.

The Wicked + The Divine is a rare book that somehow gets better with every arc. While this issue ends one threat, it unintentionally sets up so many other potential problems, which is both exciting and terrifying to me as a reader. It’s a book that continues to be a fantastic read every issue as well as incredibly topical in an era where some fans have problems accepting actors/actresses based solely on their skin color or sex.

Christopher Troy is a freelance writer/editor/snarky jerk on the internet. He can be found here weekly, on Twitter@TheAnarCHris, and is the co-creator/writer the webcomic “In The Name of Thy Mother”. Please don’t @ him with your scorching hot film TAKES.

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Chris’ Comics: The Wicked & the Divine #19

tumblr_o6mfzkAJHN1tuoa2wo1_1280The Wicked + The Divine #19

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson, Clayton Cowles

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DID YOU KNOW: Marvel isn’t the only comics publisher focusing on a Civil War these days. The cast of The Wicked & The Divine finds itself in the middle of feud, as secrets, murder, and secret murder have several characters at each other’s throats.What this means is that Jamie McKelvie gets to draw a lot of pretty peopling throwing punches at each other’s pretty faces for this arc. A while I love how smart and inventive this title usually is, and it’s commentary on fandoms, having McKelvie drawing big fight scenes again is nice. He did a bang up job on that sort of thing back during Young Avengers, and having him do an action heavy arc is a welcomed change of pace.

The Wicked and the Divine #19 sees Baal and the gods aligned with secret murderer & den mother Ananke go after the newly resurrected Persephone and her allies, as well as the return of party god Dionysus. We also learn about some additional plots involving murder, become holy crap, this is a VERY dark arc! While there’s a some trademark whimsy and snark to this book’s dialogue, for the most part Kieron Gillen’s writing plays it straight, letting the readers know we’re in for serious business. It’s very much in a Wicked+Divine19_01similar vein of what Gillen brings to his Darth Vader book over at Marvel, versus the low stakes, slice of life type stuff he did on Phonograms or the first volume of WicDiv.

Moving back to the subject of art, Matthew Wilson continues to do no wrong.  His work on Black Widow and Captain Marvel impresses me month after month, but what he brings to WicDiv is something entirely else. Issue 19 is a very dark issue in the literal sense, and Wilson’s colors do an excellent job working off a lot of pages where black plays a massive role in the design. Wilson also excels in the brighter panels, doing some fantastic stuff in the chamber where the Parthenon meet, giving it a clean, sterile look. I also dig the way he uses colors to show injury, especially in the case of Baal, enhancing McKelvie’s line art in the process.

Clayton Cowles’ font choices also remain inspired. I’m not going to lecture y’all on the importance of good letting in comics, but Cowles’ work on this book definitely deserves Wicked+Divine19_05some recognition. He’s a gifted letterer and much like Wilson colors, his choice in placement and design are brilliant.

The Wicked and the Divine #19 is a great comic. It gorgeous, dramatic and pushes the narrative in a very interesting direction. While it’s not as though provoking as some issues have been in the past, it being a more action oriented comic definitely livens things up a bit, while raising some fascinating questions. And it appears we’ll be getting some answers next month, which is a neat way to get reader to get excited for the future while thoroughly enjoying the present.

 

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Chris’ Comics: The Wicked + The Divine #18

1The Wicked + The Divine #18

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson, Clayton Cowles

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Hooray, The Wicked + The Divine is back! Quick, come grab a copy for yourselves immediately, shoving and or trampling anyone who dares get in your way!

DISCLAIMER: It is impossible to discuss this book without mentioning some spoilers, so if you aren’t caught up on WicDiv, skip this review.

The title for The Wicked + the Divine #18 is “Don’t Call it a Comeback”, which is WAY too appropriate. Series lead Laura Wilson returns, reborn as the Goddess Persephone, and she has a score to settle. Writer/co-creator Kieron Gillen made a joke that this arc was the WicDiv equivalent of Civil War (The Marvel version, not the historical one), and that’s a pretty fair description of the event of this issues. This issue also sees the return of Artist/Co-creator Jamie McKelvie, who will remain on art duties for the book until it ends. More details on that over the coming months. Both returns are welcomed, as the artist and colorist Matthew Wilson create one of the most action packed issues in quite some time. It’s McKelvie meets Shonen Manga in the best sort of ways, as Wilson’s bright, Wiced+Divine18_002energetic colors give the book a cool look that also reminds me of the action scenes in Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim adaption. The use of pinks, greens and blues are the types of colors usually not associated with action scenes is a nice touch, and really gives the book a distinct look.

Kieron Gillen also said that Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood video serve as inspiration for this comic. That much is obvious, given Laura’s dialogue, and the way McKelvie draws her. Before her “death” Laura came off a naive, an excited fangirl walking amongst gods. Now she’s drawn with more confidence and swagger, obviously looking to settle the score with Ananke and her co-conspirators.  I love the way McKelvie handles body language, and the devil may care smile on Laura’s face is fantastic.  Also look how he arranges the panels on the 2 preview pages I posted; you can switch the first two on each page, and the comic still makes sense. And the range of emotions McKelvie can draw is some next level stuff, and I’m thrilled to see his return to this title being nothing short of spectacular.

Kieron Gillen seems oddly restrained in this issue. That’s not so much a critique as it is an observation, which makes sense, as this issue really feel like more of a celebration of the art team. That’s not to say that Gillen doesn’t make any worth contributions to the issue.There’s still plenty of good to be mined from the dialogue, especially the scenes Wiced+Divine18_003involving Baal and Baphomet. Seeing two lovers scorned go out it twice in this comic gives it some really emotional weight. Well more emotional weight, can’t forget Laura’s return and all that. The team also begins to shine some light on X, who’s probably the least developed of Parthenon, and it’s revealed that she’s in a really unique position due to her age.  There’s a lot to enjoy from this issue, which is no surprise, given how good this creative team can build worlds.

I really missed the lack of The Wicked + The Divine in my life, and am over the moon that is came back as strong as it did. It’s a title that’s gone from something I was really digging, to someone that gets read immediately once the newest issue drops. The way Gillen, McKelvie and Wilson choose to explore fandoms and icons makes for an fabulous read, and issue 18 is more proof that they’re one of the most consistent, creative,  and thought-provoking teams working in the industry today.

 

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Chris’ Comics: The Wicked and the Divine #16

Wicked+Divine16_Digital-1The Wicked and the Divine #16

Kieron Gillen, Leila Del Duca, Mat Lopes

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Up until this issue, the guest artists attached to the last few issues of WicDiv were all relatively new to me. With issue 15, we get a art team I’m very familiar with, thanks to their excellent work on the Image series Shuttered. Having Leila Del Duca and Mat Lopes come on board to work on this comic is pretty exciting for me, especially when it involves 2 of my favorite characters. This month, the Morrigan and Baphomet are the focus of issue 15, giving us an origin issue that’s very much a (NONE MORE) goth romance story. It’s the perfect story for Del Duca and Lopes, who have plenty of experience in working with young adult characters, and it gives writer Kieron Gillen excuse to make references to LARPing and painting miniatures. It’s also home to by far the MOST Kieron Gillen pun to date, so all of you who’ve blocked/unfollowed Gillen on twitter, be warned.

WickedDivine16_PreviewPageMy love for  Shuttered aside, having Leila Del Duca and Mat Lopes draw and color this issue couldn’t haven been any more perfect. Del Duca’s style is softer, more animated than Jamie McKelvie’s, channeling Babs Tarr in a way while giving WicDiv a more grounded look. I love McKelvie’s art a ton, but it also seems that the dude is incapable of drawing unattractive people. Leila manages to make the demigods very human in their pre-awakened state, and gives the book a cool, indie film look. I’m also a fan of what she does with  the Morrigan and her various looks, resulting in some absolutely stunning imagery.  And Lopes’ manages to perfectly re-create the bright, futuristic colors that Matt Wilson established for us for the present day content, while toning it done and giving us more drab and bleak colors for the flashback material. The final product looks nothing like what the duo do for Shuttered, but is an spectacular looking comic none the less.

In terms of tone, this particular issue feels like a mash up of what Gillen did over on Young Avengers with a dash of Phonograms. It also reminds me of the excellent tumblr_nxoniddzFl1qbolnoo1_1280Becky Cloonan and Brian Woods maxi series Demo, which also focused on young lead characters with supernatural abilities. It’s as nerdy as it is clever, and actually way less soul crushing as the previous installments have been. By doing an origins issue, Kieron Gillen gets to show up as side of the Morrigan and Baphomet that we’ve never seen before. The pun dropping Baphomet ( aka the true face of devil Kieron Gillen) is given some much needed development this issue, making him a way more sympathetic character, and hinting that there’s more to been seen regarding his involvement in the murder of a demigod. Seeing him being a crappy youth with the Morrigan is a bit of treat for me, as I’m a fan of slice of life romance tales. Granted it’s a brief look, it’s a nice change of pace from the usual macabre, soul crushing theatrics we’ve seen as late. Also it’s nice to see him sneak another My Chemical Romance reference in one of his books.

The 3rd volume of Wicked Divine continues to be some fantastic comics. The book has benefited immensely from the done in one origin issues, which have fleshed out the cast while carefully moving the story forward. Having an artist like Lana Del Duca swing by and put her spin on these characters was a fantastic choice, and arguably my favorite guest artist on the book to date.

 

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Chris’ Comics: The Wicked and The Divine #15

TheWickedAndTheDivine_15-1The Wicked & The Divine #15

Kieron Gillen, Stephanie Hans, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson and Clayton Cowles

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The Wicked and the Divine has never been shy about the fact that it’s as much about fans and fandom as is about death. I approve of this sort of examination from the creators’ perspective, as fandom is something rarely discussed in comics aside from the occasional cosplay joke, so to see it explored the way it has been in WicDiv makes the titles one of the most relevant books on the stands, and has made the creative teams a trio of darlings on social media platforms like Tumblr.

Tumblr is a platform that I use sparingly, but one I enjoy a lot. As someone who’s in his early 30s (#KILLME), I feel ancient on the platform, given the average user age is nearly a decade younger, and also the fact that my random dick jokes tend to go over better on Twitter. But I’m well aware that it’s generally the most progressive of all of the social media platform, even though some of those folks are well meaning but still “doing it wrong”. This particular issue of WicDiv touches upon that, making for a fantastic comic featuring a fan favorite character while discussing appreciation vs appropriation.

tumblr_nw81rrxqfQ1rn4nneo3_500Amaterasu was the first goddess we met in WicDiv, yet she’s barely had much exposure since her appearance in that debut issue. Drawing the red-headed goddesses’ tale is Stephanie Hans, who’s worked with writer  Kieron Gillen over on Marvel’s Journey Into Mystery and Angela in the past. She’s a great choice, as there’s something that screams “epic” about Hans’ painted style. Of course I mean epic in the sense of Homer’s Iliad, not as an overused buzzword. It’s a fitting description in my opinion, and a fitting choice of artist, given the fact that it’s about Amaterasu, a goddess who was also featured in a video game Okami, which also had a painted, water brush style as the basis for it’s graphic engine. And since Kieron Gillen use to be a video game journalist for a number of publications, I doubt it’s much of a coincidence! Origins aside, I like how Hans uses the color red in this comic well, as it’s striking when used property. Her character acting is superb, show the cast portraying a number of emotions and looking great while doing so. Hans was the first artist that came to mind when McKelvie’s temporary departure was announced, and seeing her slay on this issue was an absolute treat.

the-wicked-and-the-divine-15-hospitalGillen and Hans have made a really clever comic with this issue of WicDiv. There’s a internet flame war played out as a stereotypical super hero fight that looks great, and gives Amaterasu some need depth Hans’ use of color mixed with Gillen’s sharp dialogue is great here, and it’s Clayton Cowles lettering that really brings the whole thing together. The entire scene is so bombastic and over the top it’s hard not to laugh when you realize why what Amaterasu is doing is so wrong, and the follow up conversation and ending make you incredibly sympathetic towards her.

There’s so much to enjoy with this issue of WicDiv. For starters it’s the first issue in a while that didn’t devastate me emotionally, so that’s cool. But more importantly Gillen and Hans give Amaterasu a some depth, while showing the reader that’s she’s far from perfect but still likeable. It’s a book that’s visually stunning, really smart, and isn’t afraid to have some fun at the audience’s expense. Stephanie Hans is a welcomed addition to this arc of rotating artists, and I hope to see her revisit the title again down line. But as it stands, this is a perfect done in one issue of WicDiv, and one that should be read immediately based on the level of talent exhibited by the creators alone.

 

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Chris’ Comics: The Wicked and the Divine #14

tumblr_inline_nueywojFWZ1r77eon_540The Wicked and the Divine #14

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson

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If team WicDiv were dinosaurs, they would all be Raptors, because this team is all a bunch of clever girls.

…somewhere out there, a version of this joke that actually works exists, and I really wish I had access to it.

 The Wicked and the Divine #14 is part TV clip show, part remix album, all Saga-levels of shock, heartbeat and revelations. Using the Tron/Daft Punk inspired demigod Woden as a lead, we finally learn who set up Lucifer back at the end of the 1st issue, and that this particular dem-god is a bit of a scumbag. He’s aware of that fact by the way, but Woden does not particularly care of what others think of him.

The-Wicked-and-The-Divine-14-2-940x1442WicDiv artist and co-creator Jamie McKelvie is the credited penciler for this issue, and while that’s technically correct, it’s also a tad misleading. While every page of this book is in fact drawn by McKelvie, the vast majority of the content is recycled. A lot of it is actually old art from previous issues remixed by colorist Matthew Wilson, with some retouches by him and McKelvie. It sounds lazy, but seeing it in action will make you realize that it’s actually really freaking clever, as the new colors and words by Kieron Gillen give these scenes entirely new meanings. It’s actually brilliant, and explained how McKelvie managed to work on WicDiv and a new issue of Phonograms Volume 3 in the same month. And while McKevlie isn’t exactly the first artist to attempt this, he’s the first one to pull it off in quite some time.

The definitive proof of this issue comes from another comic that had some fun at this comic expense, and completely reworking it to Wid Div #14’s advantage. For all of you not reading Sex Criminals, there was a bit in the 2nd volume which poked fun at 2 of the WicDiv characters in that special Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky way. Kieron, Jamie and Matt fire back at the SexCrimz team buy making that joke canon, taking Chip’s art and reworking it, stripping away any relation it had to the event in Sex Criminals, and giving it a completely haunting narrative delivered by Woden. In a way the team is taking the hide road with it’s use, but it’s also a testament to the team that they managed to rework a joke a like that.

tumblr_nufxm5M9v71qhppfvo1_1280Speaking of haunting, Kieron Gillen’s voice for Woden is down right creepy. While his ambitions are relatively low key, he’s written as SUCH a scumbag you’ll love to hate him real quick. Gillen had some impressive work on super villains over at Marvel, so what he does with Woden isn’t exactly the biggest surprise, but with Woden we have a different type of villain. His goals and motives are very realistic, so while there’s some degree of reliability with the character, he’s also a massive scum lord when it comes to his actions and logic. It makes for an incredibly  compelling character to read, even if you’re rooting for him to fail.

Wicked and the Divine #14 will have fans talking feverishly for the next 30 days. Between the big reveal and the experimental story telling, there’s a lot to take in with this very satisfying installment.

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Chris’ Comics: The Wicked and the Divine #13

tumblr_noly220GkL1tuoa2wo1_500The Wicked + The Divine #13

Kieron Gillen, Tula Lotay, Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson

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Here Kieron Gillen returns to bad bad devil 666 man status.

Wick Div #13, drawn by the wonderful Tula Lotay, is a harsh reminder that this book is a tragedy. When the premise for this issue was first announced, I thought to myself “Oh cool, we’re going to have something fun and fanservice-ly, because the F%#$ing Tara running gag will get explained”. NOPE, turns out I was wrong about my initial theory and apparently forget that Gillen is capable of making me feel things that hurt so good.

WicDiv13_Preview_PagePeople who are triggered by harassment, bullying  and behavior related to those things should be warned going into this issue.  Tara, the never seen before goddess, is a beautiful woman who has been sexually harassed since the age of 11, and continues to catch guff from awful people even today. Seeing her face in person will make you adores her, but she’s feels it’s a bit of a cheat, and the love she gets isn’t truly deserved. She’s tired of skating by on looks alone, but any attempt to cover up her face only ends poorly for the character. Tara’s tale is a sad one, and  Gillen/McKelive/Wilson add insult to injury by ending this issue a pretty grim joke. Needless to say, I loved this issue, but it’s a bit of a bummer.

Lotay’s art is gorgeous, and is drawn in a style completely different than anything that comes before her on this book. She’s more traditional comics, channeling Michael Gaydos and Alex Maleev in her art, but also giving us a bright color palette which we’re used to from usual series colorist Matthew Wilson. The art feels dirtier and sketchier than what we’re used to, but it works for this issue, serving as a reflection of the brutality we witness in this issue.

WD13_guitarThere’s 2 things that Kieron Gillen does in this issue that I absolutely adore, despite it also being the worst. First and foremost is the narration style. The issue is narrated by Tara via a letter, and I thought it was a really cool way of telling a story. Kieron’s dialogue is very fresh and natural, and this narration technique made me really sympathetic towards the character. The other thing that I like that’s quite terrible is the use from Twitter harassment in this issue. As someone who witnessed Twitter being awful first hand when Gamergame went live (in before a parade of UM actually), the stuff Kieron writes in this issue is the worst, but rings true. And that stuff of authenticity does wonders for me, even though, again, it’s terrible.

The Wicked + The Divine highlights the tragedy of fame while deepening the mystery surrounding one of the character’s actions. It pulls no punches, and it’s a harsh reminder that fame doesn’t solve all problems. Kieron Gillen and Tula Lotay managed to tell a heart breaking tale for a character we just met, and made it hurt me like she was around the previous 12 issues. It’s a testament to both these creators talents, and it really made me thing on how to interact with people on the internet in the future.

 

 

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