The Wicked + The Divine #41
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Jamie McKelvie
Colorist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Flatter: Dee Cunniffe
Review by Christoph Staffl
What do you get when you put together a rescue mission, a tragic love story, four heads, three bodies, two vocal performances and one not-so-powerless god walking with purpose?
In God We Trust!
The usefulness of the first page of every new installation in the mythos that is The Wicked + The Divine proves itself time and again. Seeing all the faces, their powersets, the basics of what they went through so far, and their current status serve as a wiki page. Someone mentions a name you can’t remember? Look it up! What were her powers again? Look it up! But to be honest, the sarcastic undertone of all the words on this one page alone is worth every new issue: “Actually living head.,” “Still has powers. Huh?”, “Thinks he’s the big daddy.” — just a few examples that make it easy to come back to this series every month. And the rest of it too, of course.
Divided We Fall!
The cold open may be composed of only one page with seven panels, but with everything we have seen and read so far — with everything that has happened — this one page contains a whole lot of history. Even without reading the dialogue, merely by scanning over the panels, soaking in the beautiful artwork — Baal’s facial expressions, which tell a story by themselves, the coloring of the scene, and the unique lettering of Woden’s words — everything pulls you right back into the narrative. What is Baal’s ultimate goal? Is it just beating The Great Darkness? There must be something else that brings him to the point of being able to sacrifice 20,000 people. And by the way: who’s side is Woden on?
United We Stand!
Isn’t it remarkable how fast one can get used to the idea and concept that goes into the living heads? This phenomenon alone seems so thought out, well planned and just ridiculously funny. Everything that happened and will happen can be centered around those heads. They are not just there but talking, being talked to, dragged around, abused, and still manage to keep the core personalities they once were. Which is hard! I would be furious if someone put my head in a wall and stitched my mouth shut. At least let me talk. And that is the point it comes back to: without Lucifer, the book would not be half as fun and exciting. Everything she does and says, her behavior, and her reactions always seem on point and in tune with the basics of her character.
However, staying true to your characters does not mean they cannot grow and learn. Laura Wilson might be the best example of it — especially in this issue. She and Cass stood on various sides throughout the story, but are still able to come together to fight a common threat.
Speaking of Cass: the idea behind the Norns always fascinated me. Their style is so unique and fresh. It starts with the design of the characters themselves — hair, make-up, and clothes and goes into such details as their lettering, which seems ancient and modern at the same time. There is wisdom in their words, always looking for the bigger picture. Then we have the powerset, which can sound hard to visualize, but in the hands of this creative team, it becomes something tangible.
One thing the creative team of The Wicked + The Divine also does perfectly is letting the artwork breath, filling up all the space and panels it needs to unfold its full potential. We have seen it before, but in this issue one prominent feature of the artwork is the reaction shots. Sometimes a scene needs one or two additional panels, so that not just we as the readers have time to react and consider what occurred, but also the characters. Especially in tricky dialogue scenes, such attention to detail slows the scene down and every beat hits.
Acting might not be a word one associates with comics, but when the characters get enough room, it is hard to miss and ignore. In addition to that, if the pages were stacked with dialogue upon dialogue, the eyes would not register the beautiful details that come with every new panel. And the acting in this issue is to die for.
The Verdict: Buy it!
You might have guessed the answer to the question I asked above, but what you get when you put all those things together and mix it up with the artwork, style, and creativity of all those brilliant people is yet another magnificent addition to The Wicked + The Divine. It might seem obvious or boring to talk about the greatness of a series time and again, but when the creative team does it every month for over 40 issues in a row, it’s a statement. An accomplishment by itself that is worth analyzing. Read The Wicked + The Divine.