Review - The Wicked + The Divine #1

"And once again, we return to this."

There's very little gods can't do; after all, they're typically all-powerful beings with a keen fascination with species considered to be beneath them (both figuratively and typically literally). It's not often though that they express any desire to walk among humans as something else those humans idolize. Sometimes though, you have to wonder if maybe Justin Bieber is actually a god and has an expiration date like the gods in The Wicked + The Divine #1 from Image Comics. The issue is written by Kieron Gillen, illustrated by Jamie McKelvie, colored by Matthew Wilson and lettered by Clayton Cowles.

Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as teenagers. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. It sounds like a pretty heady proposition and one that seems potentially ripe for all manner of madcap mayhem and swooning, especially when the latest incarnations are pop stars with rabid fanbases. They're still people in some regards and are subject to many of the same rules that the rest of us must follow.

If you've ever wondered what life would be like if gods really did walk among us, then The Wicked + The Divine #1 is the book for you. Gillen has started crafting a tale that's pretty intriguing in terms of how it addresses what a seemingly omnipotent being would do for fun in human form. The fact that the gods in the book have a two-year lifespan adds another interesting twist, because it presumably encourages them to live those couple of years to the fullest. In some ways, The Wicked + The Divine #1 feels a lot like Loki: Ragnarok and Roll and Thomas Alsop, both books that look at what an individual with great power would do when famous among humanity. Gillen seems much more ambitious in his work though, seeking to deconstruct that fame culture through the eyes of gods.

Illustrating pop artists, McKelvie imbues the book with very crisp lines and detail. In short, it's pretty breathtakingly beautiful honestly. McKelvie brings Gillen's script to life in a way that makes the illustrations pop quite boldly, presenting those gods truly enjoying their lives as pop stars. The visual appeal is further accentuated by Wilson's colors, which feel darkly muted in a way, despite the fact that many of the colors are still quite vibrant. The book feels like a photo album of a pop band at some point. Emotion manages to radiate from characters through their expressions as well, something which McKelvie really focuses on to help convey the deeper thoughts associated with being a god.

The Wicked + The Divine #1 is a very interesting book that most will benefit from reading more than once. Gillen and McKelvie have grand plans for where they want the story to go it seems and it's only the subsequent readings that those ambitions start to show. Gillen's script is very evenly paced and concise. McKelvie's illustrations are a perfect fit, offering characters full of pop sensibilities befitting of their current incarnations. This is a book that looks at society's obsession with youth through the guise of pop music, which is an industry that's in some ways a constant fountain of youth. The Wicked + The Divine #1 is a solid read that will build on some pretty heady philosophical debates further down the series.

The Wicked + The Divine #1 is in stores now with alternate covers below.