I found this at Books-A-Million for a few bucks, and knew I had to pick it up. The art style is beautifully soft and the characters so far are adorablI found this at Books-A-Million for a few bucks, and knew I had to pick it up. The art style is beautifully soft and the characters so far are adorable. I cannot wait to read more....more
Okay, here I am up with an actual review. Probably a little long, FYI. I think I want to break this review down in a few different parts: graphic illuOkay, here I am up with an actual review. Probably a little long, FYI. I think I want to break this review down in a few different parts: graphic illustration; characters; allusions, parallels and plot.
Graphic Illustration The artistic style of this particular graphic novel is what I typically gravitate towards: sharp but not too-bold lines; engaging use of palette to emphasize action, shadowing and emotion; and characters with an awesome sense of style. Which leads me directly into my next point.
Characters I don't think there is a character in this I don't love, for now. Even if I'm mildly indifferent to them, I don't find myself wishing they weren't in the scene. My two favorites, after finishing "The Faust Act", are Luci and Sakhmet. I do believe this to be for selfish reasons, as I'm very heavily drawn to Luci in particular. She is the focus of the story's momentum, whereas Sakhmet I'm still understanding. But they both have such presence in each panel, it's hard to ignore them.
Next to them, I do actually quite love and enjoy Laura. She's an impulsive young adult (and a little reckless) who takes fandom to a completely new level that turns itself into activism. But she was written in a way that didn't make her a token or trope in the story. She wasn't a brainless worshiper of the gods, she did what she did because she herself seemed to truly believe in what she was trying to accomplish. And she did it with or without support from others. I also found her quite funny; at no point did the writer overdo the "fandom" humor she had about meeting all of the gods for the first time.
I felt warmth from the other characters, and intrigue from the stoicism of others. It makes me hope that in future volumes I'll see more of their motivations outside of Luci's case.
Allusions, Parallels and Plot I'm not totally in a humor right now to do a complete breakdown of how each god truly mirrors - in plot and development - the allusions drawn on from mythology and religion. Here is what I can say, though...
(view spoiler)[I enjoyed how this act was truly about the fall of Lucifer, but instead of Lucifer's rebranding, Luci lost her life at the end of the first volume. Having said that, I'm interested to see what that means for the next volume - I'm not counting on Luci's return, but it would be interesting if this "Fallen Angel" story carried over in some capacity.
I appreciated this bastardization of traditional gods in lieu of divine celebrity. It would make sense that with a lens to our world, gods and goddesses would appear to us in a way that resonates with us onstage and in front of bright lights. It's an easy plot device to gravitate towards as a writer - which isn't to belittle the efforts of Gillen. I enjoyed it very much. It also makes for the experience of being a "believer" more about falling for the experience of their stage presence, and less so completely falling for their miracles. If there is a commentary there Gillen intended to lace into the plot, it's certainly clever and fun to find on my own.
The world was very much split, experiencing the gods' performances on different levels I've seen in real-world church experiences - as someone raised in both Southern Baptist and non-denominational Christian church environments:
There are the "charismatic" church experiences that focus on high-impact, high-energy praise and worship - sweating, speaking in tongues, fainting, dancing like no one's watching, and otherwise being filled by the Holy Spirit. The just-as-devout-but-more-introverted spectators of the onstage experience of worship - awestruck at the performers, participating in song, experiencing a quiet religion of their own. The fans crawling for the lights and experience but still fumbling with the religion - not quite "believers" but fans of the empowerment of the experience. And the skeptics - not here for the worship, hardly interested in the fanaticism or fantastical claims of those preaching and singing onstage, scoffing and either quietly or loudly bitter about the entire thing.
Laura fell into what I would consider the introverted worshiper. Based on her narrative alone in the beginning, she could tell there was something that was being tapped into by Amaterasu's performance, but it seemed that hers was a slow burning religion that she felt as the music played and heightened because Amaterasu was there. It didn't just exist when Amaterasu was there. Meanwhile, there were men beside themselves, fainting and experience physical orgasms from the sheer power of Amaterasu's siren-esque abilities. Each god has a Messiah complex. The world loved them, feared them and hated them for their propaganda. It makes me wonder what will be their Last Supper.
The Faustian theme of this volume had an appreciated double-meaning. It did embody Laura's deal with Luci in order to get her out of trouble - which I never believed for a moment power was Laura's only motivation. But "The Faust Act" was just as much a blunt mark on each gods' lives. Each one would live in divinity and success, but with the knowledge that death crept around the corner. The "Mephistopheles" in this story is less Luci(fer) to Laura than it is Ananke to everyone else, who curses these young adults with this life set to end before they can live it. (hide spoiler)]
My only "complaint" with this story, and really it's not a complaint because I'm not sure if it's just a personal preference that could be easily rectified, is that I'm not totally told why the Recurrence happens or anything about it other than the base definition. In fact, the first few pages had me utterly confused when we never flipped back to those characters again. It wasn't until the Recurrence came up that I understood what was happening.
This is actually something I've struggled with lately in a lot of content I've been reading. Authors have dropped me into a world where I'm just supposed to accept the faults and qualities of it without any real explanation. On the one hand, I don't like being spoon-fed something as if I can't figure it out for myself. But as a curious person, I do enjoy getting a better understanding of how malleable the world - or rules of the land - are.
I had the same issue with This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab (of which I also enjoyed). I felt as if some of the world building and explanation was lacking - I don't know if this is a "bury the lede" type of tactic, and I'll learn more as the story progresses, but hopefully I do. My favorite thing about stories like these - especially if they play off of mythology - is falling headfirst into its lore (parodied or otherwise).
But I do truly believe if you're a fan of re-appropriations of mythology/religion, and you enjoy graphic novels, you'll love The Wicked + the Divine.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more