COMIC BOOK REVIEW: THE WICKED + THE DIVINE – THE FAUST ACT / AUTHOR: KIERON GILLEN / ARTIST: JAMIE MCKELVIE, MATTHEW WILSON / PUBLISHER: IMAGE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
When Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie get together to create a story about young people with remarkable talents being irresponsible, you’re pretty guaranteed to be in for a treat. The Wicked + The Divine is an ongoing series about exactly that, and it’s so good that we can even forgive the terrible pun in the first volume’s title (though seriously, The Faust Act? There ought to be a law).
The set-up for the series is pretty straight forward modern fantasy; every ninety years, a small number of young people get the chance to become the incarnations of gods. The world is sceptical of course, with many preferring to believe that these divinely-powered creatures are simply cleverly staged celebrity acts, but each god has a following none the less. Humans, it seems, need to see the gods, and the deities love to be adored in return. The bulk of these followers are young as well, and the narrative draws us into this very strange subculture.
The bulk of the story focuses around a fan called Laura, who is drawn toward the Bowie-like Luci; the incarnation of Lucifer, the very devil itself. We learn about this very dangerous creature and the world it dwells in through Laura’s eyes. As the gods begin to misbehave and squabble, we see the drama and tragedy of the gods unfold. Gillen’s writing brings a cultural cool to the entire affair, mixing the classic stories of ancient myth with the savvier storytelling style of the pop song. The result feels like a perfectly remixed Motown classic, with each plot element practically snapping its fingers as it goes.
Jamie McKelvie’s art work is its usual clean and colourful self, and the individual character design is superb, from the bright white clothing of Lucifer to the muted tones of the more mundane. Crisp yet instantly recognisable, its McKelvie’s perfect blend of classic comic book art, informed by a truly independent style and sensibility, that brings the story to life. Matthew Wilson’s cool yet vibrant colours are magnificent, making each page a treasure.Super-humans with short lifespans are nothing new, of course. Marvel did it years ago with Strikeforce: Morituri and Monty Nero covered similar ground very recently in his Death Sentence work. Unlike those works, however, Gillen’s story does not mope around the edges of impending mortality; the young people in The Wicked + The Divine embrace their possibly all-too-short lives with the expectations and passion that only the truly young and the truly ancient can comprehend. The Wicked + The Divine – The Faust Act is an amazing start to what we hope will be a truly remarkable on-going series.
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