Sunday 31 December 2017

#CBR9 Book 128: "The Wicked + The Divine, vol 1: The Faust Act" by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie

Page count: 144 pages
Rating: 4 stars

Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They appear as rock stars and are loved and hated in equal measure. In two years, they are all dead. The lesson they need to learn is: just because you're immortal, doesn't mean you're going to live forever.

In the first volume of The Wicked + The Divine we are introduced to Laura, a seventeen-year-old from London who is utterly devoted to the various recently incarnated gods, who appear as rock stars of various genres all over the city. After she passes out at one of Amaterasu's concerts, she is introduced to "Luci", the current incarnation of Lucifer and taken backstage to spend more time with some of the gods. Just as countless people adore the new godlings, there are those who hate them too. When armed gunmen open fire on the people in the room, Luci gets carried away, snaps her fingers and has their heads explode. During her trial, where she's adamant that they can't prove an actual link between her fingers and the dead bodies, the judge is spectacularly killed in the same way, and Luci finds herself in prison.

Laura is convinced that for all that she is scary and seems a bit unhinged, Luci didn't actually kill the judge. Someone is trying to frame her, and she wants to do whatever she can to help. She is sent to look for the mysterious Ananke, and comes into contact with even more of the twelve deities as a result. There is clearly more here than Laura understands and she knows she's neglecting her schoolwork and future by throwing herself wholeheartedly into the quest to free Luci, but she can't seem to help herself.

I didn't know a lot about this comic before I started reading it, and having finished the first five issues, collected in The Faust Act, I'm not entirely sure I know all that much more. As the description says, twelve gods get incarnated every ninety years. It's not always the same gods, but Ananke seems to be part of the group no matter what. In 2014, at least, they all appear as famous rock stars, utterly adored by their fans. Most people seem deeply sceptical to their claims of actually being divine, and it seems that Luci breaks a lot of unspoken rules when she openly shows off some of her dangerous and unpredictable powers. This has consequences as the issues go on.

As this is only the first trade, it does the job of introducing us to a large cast of characters. There's Laura, who's our entry-point into the comic, and a whole bunch of the different gods. Why are they reincarnated into the bodies of young, beautiful people? Why do they only live for two years? Who is setting up Luci for a murder charge? All of these questions will clearly be answered down the line.

I am very intrigued by the premise of this comic, and will absolutely be reading more of it. The fact that my husband "knows" both the writer and artist from an internet forum from many years ago is an added bonus. It's always good to support friends.

Judging a book by its cover: Jamie McKelvie's art is so gorgeous throughout this comic, and the monthly covers for the various issues feature beautiful facial portraits of the various deities. So it was a bit of a disappointment to me when the trade had this cover which is so simple, even though it is rather evocative.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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