Friday, 4 July 2014

Worshipping The Wicked + The Divine #1

Or a roundup of my favourite aspects of The Wicked + The Divine #1
by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, and Clayton Cowles; Image Comics

You know what, I'm just going to lay this out: I am probably hugely biased here. Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matt Wilson are individually three of my favourite creators, and when working together, they have made some remarkable comics. Phonogram: The Singles Club is, and I will happily show you the work, one of the best made comics I've read. It's also really accessible in a way that has a fairly ungeeky coworker actively reading comics now. Young Avengers, the last time the band got together, was one of the most interesting and experimental comics being published by mainstream publishers. Having watched this team grow and develop, collectively and apart, how could I not be excited about their newest effort?

The Wicked + The Divine #1 is the second comic I've broken my tradewait for creator owned comics rule for. It is the first comic I have actually preordered properly.

So, yeah, I am an unrequited fanboy and this is going to be shaded by that.

(I feel you Laura, I feel you.)

But, I'm also going to try and be somewhat academic about this because The Wicked + The Divine #1 is also a comic which does some interesting things and some important things that I'd like to try and parse. 

There will be *SPOILERS* for the Wicked + The Divine #1.

This is a relatively small thing, but I really love the 1-2-3-4 on these pages as layout elements. I mean, it's a really clean, great way to integrate the title of the issue into the page and helps solidify the 1-2-3-4 (and indirectly snapping) as important motifs for the issue, but its also really smart reader guiding. Two pages with the same, regular panel layouts, especially without a direct narrative sequence of events (due to time jumps) risk being read accidentally as a single double page spread instead of two discrete pages. The 1-2-3-4 functions to inform the reader that the two pages are separate and provides the correct reading order. It also, in a less direct way, helps set the feel of time passing in the event montage. It's, in the grand scheme of things, a small choice that is really effective.

One of the my favourite things about Gillen/McKelvie/Wilson joints are how they play with the idea of magic in comic books. In Young Avengers they effectively broke the rules of comics to showcase the supernatural: the idea being that comics-as-usual represent reality and things that break the conventions of this represent the impossible happening. WicDiv continues this, but in a (and this is going to sound a bit crazy in a minute) more restrained and thoughtful way. I love this panel here as an example of this in WicDiv: Luci, who is kind of Satan, is about to reveal her wicked/divine nature and make some miraculous shit happen. The lighting has changed and critically, Luci's body breaks the comic rules and becomes spot coloured as the very fabric of the comic reality is being undone by her godly powers. It's a very smart visual cue. 

I am also in love with the way Luci's black forelock, askew, resembles a devil's horn. This is the kind of tiny, smart choice that I love about this creative team.

The showcase act of divine magic in WicDiv #1 are the exploding of heads. Again we see the rules of comics break down, replacing the modern colouring of the main narrative with a boiling cauldron of popart excess. Again we see spot colouring, a white background, and a colour scheme straight out of a Roy Lichtenstein explosion. (And, I strongly suspect some very cool 3D effects on the last head-plosion [right], although I lack the necessary spectacles to test this.) This is a visually impressive representation of magic. 

It's also so fucking thematically perfect it makes me spin. Luci the David Bowie-esque literal Devil makes people's heads explode in popart. 

Just chew on that for a bit.

All of that aside, I think the most important thing Team WicDiv accomplished in their first issue, even more than establishing the premise, is making Luci charismatic. For this series to work, especially given the cliffhanger, we, like Laura, have to BELIEVE in Luci. And for that to work Luci has to be everything we want in a cool, sexy, smooth Lucifer. We have to be convinced, seduced, and terrified. We must feel Sympathy For The Devil and be scared shitless by Satan. And The Wicked + The Divine fucking nails it.

And they do it with the perfect balance of character design, facial acting, and dialogue. For what it has to be, it's perfect.

I love Luci.

(I totally think she's lying.)

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