Published by Image Comics on November 12th 2014
Genres: Comics and Graphic Novels, LGBTQ, Mythology, Urban Fantasy
Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. The team behind critical tongue-attractors like Young Avengers and PHONOGRAM reunite to create a world where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever. Collects THE WICKED + THE DIVINE #1-5
The Wicked and The Divine is one of the first graphic novels I added to my want-to-read list, because I heard so many amazing things about it and I loved the cover and look of the artwork based on a quick flick through. One thing that really appealed to me is that there’s enough to get stuck into without feeling impossible to catch up with, or like I needed to have a huge amount of background info to get started (looking at Marvel & DC here!). Despite all that, it took me ages to finally start the series, because I very rarely buy graphic novels, and I just couldn’t get hold of a copy through the library. I finally got around to starting it this year, and unsurprisingly, flew through it in a day.
There’s a lot about The Wicked & The Divine to attract, starting with that gorgeous cover, which despite being gorgeous doesn’t even begin to accurately set you up for how lovely the artwork inside is. The colourist, Wilson, and the illustrator, McKelvie, are actually both artists I’ve come across and liked before – Wilson on Paper Girls, and McKelvie on Ms Marvel – but the art in The Wicked & The Divine is on another level, and I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say it’s the most beautiful graphic novel I’ve read so far.
The premise is also intriguing – the Gods are reincarnated every 90 years, and get only 2 years to live. I was expecting an urban fantasy feel, perhaps along the lines of Percy Jackson or City of Bones and while the underlying ideas are a bit like that, it’s definitely an adult title! The cast, both human and God, are great, with lots of diversity representation which is nice; from a biracial MC to pansexual and trans characters, the diversity is just scattered throughout as though not a big deal, just one facet of the characters, rather than being the driving factor behind motivations or issues etc, which is something I really like. The same is true of Saga, another series from the same publisher – I haven’t read enough Image titles to know whether that’s just a coincidence or whether it’s a conscious effort, but so far I’m really enjoying the titles from this publisher.
Unfortunately, while I really liked the background of the cast, the cast themselves were predominantly unlikable. The Gods read like normal people, and while that makes them very relatable, I want more fantasy! As a first volume, there’s also huge amounts left unexplained and mysterious, which obviously serves to hook you in so you read the rest of the series, but mostly just frustrated me to be honest. Most of the reviews I’ve read online seem to suggest this is a bit of a marmite title, with people either adoring it or hating it, and I think a lot of that probably comes down to how much is (and isn’t!) explained. While I found it frustrating, I do want to know what’s going to happen next, so I’m definitely not writing off the series just yet, and want to read the next volume to get a better idea of the series, rather than just judging based on the first volume. I feel like at the moment it could go either way; easily blossoming into a new favourite, or just as easily fizzling out into something that feels like too much work without enough payoff.
Buy it? This is one I have purchased for my shelves because it’s so gorgeous and I think I could lend to a lot of people who will love it, but I’d maybe read the first couple of volumes through the library before deciding to commit.
In a nutshell: Spectacular artwork, diverse cast, interesting premise, but at the moment not 100% sold on the execution.