I have been waiting since the initial announcement of Wicked + Divine to read the first issue. I am a huge fan of both Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, and an even bigger fan of their collaborations (If you haven’t read their work on Young Avengers stop reading this and order the trade paperbacks immediately. Seriously, it will be the best comics purchase you have ever made). Anyway, I was jonesing for this book in the same way Tyrone Shoelaces does for his basketball (hey man, there are far too few references to Cheech and Chong in comics reviews !) and with each pic on the Tumblr, press release and interview I became more excited. With this book I committed the cardinal sin – I DID believe the hype (sorry Flava Flav)
So, when I grabbed my copy of Wicked + Divine #1 I was scared to read it. I had built this thing up so much in my mind that I felt I could only be disappointed by what actually lay between the covers. So it is that despite having the issue for a couple of weeks I have only just read it today. Man, what a fool in love I was ! This is a perfect comic, with incredible images and clever dialogue and a plot that as well paced as a Ramones song, saying all that needs to be said but leaving a tantalising vision of something bigger underneath.
Here are my initial thoughts on the issue mere minutes after I read it:
* Jamie’s art is incredible, making the characters both glamorous and vulnerable (funny given they are gods)
* The Beatles references were awesome
* So was “didn’t get past Bowie in her parent’s retro record collection”. I have happily “inflicted” (as my wife puts it) Bowie on all my kids, so it is not unusual to see both my 15 year old daughter and 5 year old son happily rocking out to Let’s Dance. Oh, and the aforementioned 5 year old’s favourite song EVER is Modern Love.
* I DID feel the Phonogram vibe, especially in the concert sequence which reminded me of the Pull Shapes issue (Oh yeah, if you haven’t read Phonogram again stop reading and grab it. Especially the Singles Club issues making up the second volume, of which the Pull Shapes issue is my favourite and led me to the intoxicating Pipettes).
* I could tell there is so much back story to be revealed – why only four gods in 1923 ? Who was the sophisticated old “owl” lady ? Am I right to call her the owl lady ? Was Lucifer one of the four we saw in 1923 ? I am guessing he/she was the girl with the “Pris from Blade Runner” make up. Where are the other gods shown in the mandala for Chapter 2 ?
* The cliff hanger was unexpected, as we don’t usually see them in Gillen/McKelvie stuff (though I am probably forgetting a million from the Young Avengers run). Usually there is a climax three-quarters of the way through the issue and a denouement following, allowing one to light up a cigarette and enjoy the afterglow.
* Speaking of YA, can very much see the influence of that comic in the design of the pages – the chapter breaks, the title of the story being incorporated into the panels themselves, the banter between the characters (especially the sequence with Sekhmet chasing the “red dot” and Luci’s commentary on such).
* A-Ha ! You didn’t fool me though, I realised the red dots on Luci were from sniper rifle scopes, so I was waiting for the shots to be fired.
* Was it wrong of me to laugh when I later turned the page and saw the panel of the judge’s head explode ? If so, I say in my defence that it was nervous laughter, of the kind that is a release from the incredible tension of the previous pages focussing on the “finger click”
So there it is. Wicked + Divine #1 was even better than I expected it to be. I thought I had hyped myself to the point where reading it could only be a Highway to Hell, but the experience was ultimately a Stairway to Heaven !
PS: Yep, there were a few music references in there, how many can YOU spot ?