Monday, 17 August 2015

Worshipping The Wicked + The Divine #13

Or a look at the use of active narration in WicDiv #13
by Kieron Gillen, Tula Lotay, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, and Clayton Cowles; Marvel Comics

Despite a rotating cast of creators, The Wicked + The Divine continues to be a comic worth examining for creative flair. WicDiv #13 features the addition of Tula Lotay to the team, and honestly I'd write in depth about it, but it would mostly be a series of superlatives about how much I like it. Since I think it might be more interesting and instructive, I'll just take for granted that the art in WicDiv #13 is really great, and instead focus on the narration in the comic, which pulls a very interesting trick.

A trick that is made of *SPOILERS*, so this post is going to be quite *SPOILER* heavy.

The Wicked + The Divine has established itself as a comic with an active narrator, a character within the story who relates some amount of the events and glimpses of their inner lives. At first glance WicDiv #13 operates by the same rules, with Tara playing the role of narrator. With this we get a glimpse of "fucking Tara", the immensely popular pop idol goddess who the rest of the pantheon views with a certain jealousy and disdain. What we see initially is a pretty sympathetic portrait of a woman struggling with being respected as an artist in the face of her glamorous image and divine powers. As a purely surface narration device, this inner monologue is an arresting look into the fraught relationship between beauty and fame, and the toxic environment that can exist there.

That is until you reach the climax of the comic and realize that the active narration in WicDiv #13 is the contents of a suicide note written by Tara. Which, after being lulled into complacently by the familiar seeming narrative structure, leads to a shocking reframing of the entire comic. Instead of being a story about a woman struggling with the costs of beauty and fame, or a cautionary story of about how even the most shallow seeming star is a complex human being, it's the last testament of someone who has already given up, already been destroyed. This of course, adds a serious weight of gravitas to the end of the comic. But, more interestingly, the narration reveal allows WicDiv #13 to be experienced twice, once as a complex character study and again as a darker tragedy. Which is really cool comics.

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

WicDiv #12 and layout encoding

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