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Article by Enrique Varona. Art by Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson.

The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie is the best comic you aren’t reading yet. And if you’re already reading it, you know why everybody else should be. The series focuses on a pantheon of twelve gods that are brought together every ninety years, blessed with supernatural abilities and incredible fame. However, the glory comes at a steep price; they die after two years. And once again, they return, to start the cycle for a new generation.  As the young Laura finds herself roped into this world of intrigue and glamor, she finds that not all gods are good and that fame isn’t everything you want it to be. Oh, and did I mention that the gods are based on pop culture icons such as Rihanna, Kanye West, Daft Punk, David Bowie, and Prince? Now we’re talking.

Laura is immediately relatable as a young teenager flocking to the concerts of these larger than life icons that dominate culture. In many ways, she represents us, and our own draw towards celebrity culture. In the first issue of the series, we meet Laura as she’s getting ready in the bathroom of an Amaterasu concert. She looks in the mirror, puts on makeup to look like her idol, and the reality of the moment sinks in. She wants to be like the gods, the same way that we want to be like the celebrities we idolize.


The Wicked + The Divine #1 by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, and Clayton Cowles.

As the story unfolds, Laura finds herself more and more immersed in the culture of the gods. A chance meeting with Lucifer makes her witness to a mysterious crime, which in turn brings her front and center to the greater conflict unfolding. As she tries to dig deeper to the core of the issue, she finds herself meeting the gods one by one. Baphomet. The Morrigan. Baal. Each god reveals themselves to be a person underneath the glamour of fame. Sometimes welcoming and other times immensely combative, we can’t help but fall in love with the world of adventure that the gods bring. Which of course leads to Ragnarock, the self-aware convention within the world of our story that is equal parts Lollapalooza and Comic-Con. That’s where the real fun emerges.

It’s impossible to look at The Wicked + The Divine and not find ourselves somewhere in the story. Maybe you relate to Laura, who feels the constant draw of fame, and longs to find meaning in it. Her quest to be a god, to outgrow the person she is and become something more, is endearing to many. But maybe you’re Cassandra, who is critical of the world of the gods and wants to expose the frauds that dominate pop culture. Who hasn’t been skeptical of the super-famous? And of course, you have to see the obvious references to pop-culture that the series constantly drops. Lucifer is a loving homage to David Bowie. Simultaneously classic and risque, she challenges our perception of the devil. After all, it’s important to remember that Lucifer was once one of God’s angels. Baal is a commentary on Kanye West. Vain and brash, he constantly inflates his own ego to become the biggest presence in the room. It’s Baal’s world, and we’re just lucky enough to bear witness to him. And of course, there’s Inanna. Sweet Inanna, who challenges all convention to become one of the most lovable characters of the series. Endearing and supportive of those around him, but absolutely dazzling in his own right. He is Prince, through and through.


Baal by Jamie McKelvie and Nathan Fairbairn.

The series was nominated in three different categories in its freshman year at the Eisner Awards, for best new series, best cover artist (Jamie McKelvie/Matthew Wilson), and best colorist (Matthew Wilson). It even won best comic at the 2014 British Comic Awards. This year, it was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for being a positive representation of the LGBT community. One needs only to look at the extremely expansive and dedicated following the book has on social media to see how well-received the series has been. Go to a con featuring any of the creators and you’ll see the waves of cosplays inspired by the series. It is a phenomenon in itself. The book frequently appears on lists of the top comics today (It made it to the Top Ten of Midtown Comics own list of best comics in 2015), and Heavy Metal magazine revealed that it actually made more Top 10 appearances than any other book for 2015. I can go on and on about this, but I genuinely believe that the best way to believe the hype is to stop by and pick up the book itself. It’s quality speaks volumes about it’s success.

To close, I would be a fool not to mention that this book is a great comfort in the wake of the loss of many celebrity icons. As I mentioned, Gillen and McKelvie based many characters on celebrities from pop culture. When David Bowie passed away in January, Gillen reflected on the moment, telling a short story between Lucifer and Bowie. Young and afraid, Lucifer approaches Bowie and asks him for advice. She says “There’s so little time, and so much work I want to do. I’m going to die but I want to be immortal.” Bowie comforts her, and Lucifer leaves, rushing into the night. As he looks on, he sighs at the situation, realizing how much of an inspiration he has been to the girl. Gillen concludes the matter, writing simply “Immortality, of a kind.” So take comfort in the loss of our icons, for they live on in the great works around us, and forever so in The Wicked + The Divine.


The Wicked + The Divine #1 by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, and Clayton Cowles.


You can pick up The Wicked + The Divine at any of our three retail locations or online HERE. The series has been collected into three paperback collections and a deluxe edition hardcover.

The views expressed herein are solely those of the writer, and not Midtown Comics. Additionally, Midtown Comics makes no representations as to the accuracy of any of the information expressed herein.

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