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Kieron Gillen – The Wicked and the Divine, Vols. 1 & 2

March 5, 2016

72 & 10. The Wicked and the Divine, Volume 1: The Faust Act and Volume 2: Fandemonium by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson, Clayton Cowles (2014, 2015)
The Wicked and the Divine, Volumes 1 & 2

Length: 144 & 168 pages
Genre: Graphic Novels, Fantasy

Started/Finished: 06 November 2015 / 16 February 2016
Where did it come from? Vol. 1 bought from Amazon; Vol. 2 checked out from the library.
Why do I have it? A friend mentioned it when we were talking about how much I liked mythology in my fiction, so of course I was all over that.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 18 October 2015.

When the gods return
to Earth, things can get more than
a little crazy.

Summary: In the world of The Wicked and the Divine, every 90 years ago, twelve gods return into the bodies of young people. They live for two years, idolized and feared by the public, and then at the end of that time, they die.

In Volume 1, seventeen-year-old Laura is a superfan of the gods. She’s seen them all – all of them that give public performances, anyways. So when she’s invited – by Lucifer! – to meet Amaterasu personally, she’s beside herself. But when the meeting turns into an assassination attempt, which then turns deadly for the assassins (it doesn’t pay to anger the gods, after all), Laura starts to wonder what she’s gotten in to. Especially when Luci’s trial goes awry, and she’s locked up for good. Laura wants to help her, but what can she do, against the combined powers of mortal justice and immortal anger?

In Volume 2, Laura is still reeling from the events of Volume 1, trying to figure out who’s behind them, and learning how to deal with the celebrity her proximity to those events has thrust upon her. The rest of the Pantheon is slowly being revealed to the world, with Laura still secretly hoping that one of the twelve will wind up being her… even if that revelation would cut her life expectancy down to just a few years. Meanwhile, there’s a dangerous rumor going around, about the Prometheus gambit – where if you kill a god, you get to become a god. And if there’s a thread of truth to the rumor, it could be catastrophic for everyone.

Review: I got interested in mythology in sixth grade, and since then it’s been a continuing interest. I absolutely love fiction that looks at mythology and how it intersects with life, or that has mythological figures interacting with real life. So The Wicked and the Divine was right square in the middle of my wheelhouse.

Or at least, it was, once I expanded my horizons a little bit. The first time I read Vol. 1, I liked the concept a lot, but I had absolutely no idea who most of the gods in that volume *were*. I knew Lucifer, of course, and had a decent idea about Sekhmet and Woden, and had heard of Ba’al and Morrigan, but Amaterasu? Baphomet? No clue. (And I couldn’t figure out what the deal was with The Morrigan’s three incarnations, and why they were separate but only counted as one of the 12.) So the first time through, I was pretty lost, not with the story per se, but certainly with a lot of the context and deeper meanings. The second time through, I had the Wikipedia app pulled up on my phone, and things went much more smoothly.

It’s a very complicated world that Gillen’s building, but he’s doing so at a very nice pace – some things are a little confusing, especially initially, but we get backstory and explanations not only at a good rate, but also in places that feel organic to the story (no infodumping!). There’s also plenty of things left hinted at but unexplained; plenty of room left to dig deeper into this world, which I really appreciate, and makes me want to keep reading.

The second volume does more of this explanation than the first, which makes sense – the first is there to hook your audience, then the second to reel them in. We get more info about the process of becoming a god – in the first volume, I’d largely assumed that the gods appear out of nowhere at the beginning of the Recurrance, not that they take over an until-then normal mortal life. I suspect we’ll get more of the gods’ backstories, and how they relate to their reincarnated selves, and how the whole process works, as we move further along in the series, but thus far, we’ve gotten enough to be satisfying while still leaving me curious to find out more. And the cliffhanger at the end of Volume 2 is one of the biggest I think I’ve ever encountered, so I’m dying to get to volume 3. (And kudos to Gillen for having the guts to flip his whole story 180˚ from where I think everyone was expecting it to go!)

The art is lovely throughout; lots of color and movement and supernatural effects that could look super-cheesy but don’t. Lots of cool paneling decisions, and the characters are drawn realistically and very detailed but still quite clean. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: If you like mythology – any kind of mythology, or all kinds of mythology – this is the series for you. If you’ve grown up on Rick Riordan books (or are a grown up who likes Rick Riordan books), then this book has a similar vibe of the world of the gods impinging on regular life. (But definitely grown-ups only; it’s not Saga but there’s definitely sex and drugs and violence and rock-and-roll and swearing.)

Vol. 1: This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon
Vol. 2: This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Check them out at the Book Blogs Search Engine.
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Lines: “And once again, we return to this.” / “What’s wrong?”

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 5, 2016 10:36 pm

    And now there is a Volume 3 for you to check out!!

  2. March 20, 2016 8:32 pm

    I’ve decided to continue with them but I didn’t like Vol. 1 much when I read it. I was a little confused by it but I loved the illustrations.

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