BY GRETCHEN GALES
My recent obsession with comic books may inconvenience my wallet but has visually opened colorful, grandiloquent worlds for me. Already one of my favorite comic book publishers—Image Comics—recently released their collection of "Image Firsts" comics, reprints of popular and iconic comics for only $1 each. Among these is the first issue of my latest obsession: The Wicked + The Divine.
The story (created by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson, and Clayton Cowles) follows the incarnation of 12 gods, each becoming pop music sensations damned to death after two years of stardom. We first have some context of what’s happening with a brief flashback to 1923, with several nervous and forlorn looking men and women at a candlelit table. With a quick click of their fingers, the house explodes, marking their deaths. That is until 90 years later, known as the Recurrence.
Almost immediately we meet the Devil herself: Luci (short for Lucifer). Luci is sexy and alluring, with just the right amount of bad girl charm. She dons cropped platinum blonde hair with a black streak. Her blue eyes turn red when performing her fiery magic, either when lighting a cigarette or causing chaos. She easily seduces anyone she meets, and you can’t help but envy the seemingly pristine white pantsuit she rocks. Within seconds, you’re drawn into her salacious glare, either with lust or (like me) envy that you can’t pull off the perfect short haircut. In these and many more ways portrays a more accurate depiction of the Devil than the lobster-red, cloven-hoofed demon paired with the classic imagery of hellfire and brimstone we’re accustomed to from the Looney Tunes.
Luci rapidly attracts the attention of Laura Wilson, a fangirl sucked into the drama of the Pantheon by will and desire to become divine herself. Laura soon meets Sakhmet, Baphomet, Amaterasu, Baal, Minerva, among other gods and goddesses. She witnesses that life in the Pantheon isn’t as fabulous as she perceives it but still keeps coming back to it. Laura’s desire of wanting to be adored and inhumanly gorgeous reflects most people’s unrealistic expectations of fame. It also illustrates how fame, while supplying constant ecstasy, also doles out drama, addiction, criticism, and mortality.
The Wicked + The Divine, like many Image comics, does a phenomenal job with introducing diverse characters, something rivals DC and Marvel tend to have trouble with. Laura, a primary protagonist, is a biracial London teen. Cassandra Igarashi, a local news reporter, is an Asian transgender woman. All members of the Pantheon are drawn from many religious and cultural traditions, including Egyptian, Christian, Irish, Shinto, Greek, Babylonian, Sumerian, Buddhist, and Norse. Regardless of how the deities are viewed in a traditional sense, most of them are from completely different ethnic backgrounds or reversed gender. For example, Inanna is traditionally seen as the Sumerian female goddess of love, warfare, and fertility. In the series, Inanna is an Asian bisexual male. Additionally, the characters are all of differing sexual orientation.
Next question: Where can you find The Wicked + The Divine? So far there are 2 collections: The Faust Act and Fandemonium. The third collection will be called Commercial Suicide, but all issues it will contain (#12-#17) are still being circulated as single issues. As mentioned earlier, a reprint of the first issue is currently available at local comic book stores alongside Phonogram, the creators’ other music-centered comic. So what’re you waiting for? Whether you’re new to comics or a veteran, The Wicked + The Divine is worth getting into, just in time for the upcoming television show premiering in 2016 on Universal TV. Just don’t let it get to your head.
Gretchen Gales is an assistant editor and staff writer for Quail Bell Magazine. Her work has also appeared in Life In 10 Minutes, Sleeve Lit Magazine, Pencil Marks, Typewrite Magazine, Lipstick Party Mag, Some Talk of You and Me, Amendment Literary and Art Magazine, and the BorderSenses ForWord Chapbook Volume III. See more of her work at www.writinggales.wordpress.com.