Friday, 17 July 2015

Worshipping the Wicked + The Divine #12

Or a look at panel shape in WicDiv #12
by Kieron Gillen, Kate Brown, Jamie KcKelvie, Matt Wilson, and Clayton Cowles; Marvel Comics

The newest issue of WicDiv represents a change in The Wicked + The Divine. Instead of the familiar artwork of Jamie McKelvie, the series is now going through a cycle where a number of group artists are joining the comic for a series of character focused issues. WicDiv #12 represents the first issue and is drawn by Kate Brown, and continues the WicDiv tradition of being formally interesting comics.

There will be *SPOILERS* for WicDiv #12 below.

Sometimes the smallest things in a comic end up being really effective story telling tools. In the case of WicDiv #12, the small but important tool is panel shape. WicDiv #13 follows a team of Cassandra's former documentarian assistants as they make a film about the gods. It is established very early in the comic that these rounded edge panels are filmed segments of the comic. This was done in a clever way by showing a deceased character in the frames with a date-stamp and with film symbols like fast-forward and pause to cement the technique.

On a surface level this choice allows the reader to easily distinguish the filmed sections of the comic from the real time parts of the comic. This way the comic can intersperse the different threads of the story effortlessly and without having to take the time to formally establish which is which. It's a tiny thing but it makes the issue work really well.

But I think this tool works on another, more subtle level as well. By using these rounded panels for quiet, static documentary shots, WicDiv #12 gets into a kind of rhythm: we get into a pattern of repetitive, dialogue shots that give sections of the issue a certain stillness. Which I think works like an anchor.

So that when the action breaks lose in WicDiv #12, everything looks different. Instead of the rounded edges of the quiet panels, there are the sharp, jagged lines of danger. Instead of the neat, orderly panels with clear celluloid margins, there is chaos, with events breaking through margins in a swirling vortex of wild violence. These amazing compositions would be effective regardless, but the contrasting styles, I think, really emphasize just how wild the action scenes in WicDiv #12 get. It's a tiny choice, but for me it results in some really great comics.

Also, I absolutely love how clinical and static the camera lens elements in the action scenes are. It's a fun commentary on the role of observer to events, which I think plays with the role of creator and audience in interesting ways. 

WicDiv #1 and popart head-splosions
WicDiv #2 and the use of black-space
WicDiv #3 and character design

WicDiv #4 and body language 

WicDiv#5 and facial acting

WicDiv #6 and possessions as character
WicDiv #7 and the power of lettering
WicDiv #8 and the disorienting layout
WicDiv #9 and the economics of design

WicDiv #10 and powers as character design

WicDiv #11 and stretching the moment

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