COMIC REVIEW: The Wicked + The Divine: Commercial Suicide

Commercial Suicide is the third trade paperback for Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s ongoing The Wicked + The Divine series.

The Wicked + The Divine deals with the most recent incidence of The Recurrence, where twelve normal young people are revealed to be incarnations of deities. The Recurrence occurs every 90 years and the deities, once revealed, will only live for two years during which time they have the powers, influence and followers of gods. We see the first two arcs through the eyes of Laura, a super-fan of the Pantheon who gets involved in trying to clear Lucifer’s name when she apparently kills someone. Through the story we are introduced to more of the Pantheon (Amaterasu, Baal, Woden, the Morrigan, etc) as well as Ananke who is not of the Pantheon but seems to be their keeper, carer and catalyst. We are also introduced to their rivalries and intrigues, as well as a terrorist group who want to destroy them.

Commercial Suicide (which collects issues 12 to 17) picks up after the seismic events at the end of Fandemonium (the second trade). I will avoid spoilers for those who are still to catch up but suffice to say the latest collection continues the superlative run of what is rapidly turning out to be a modern classic.

Whilst concepts around fandom, hero worship and obsession have always been to the fore, the latest run delves a little deeper into the past lives of some of the Pantheon, particularly those who wear their divinity a little heavier than others. Whilst the first eleven issues seemed to revel in the high drama of fighting gods who are debauched, powerful rock stars, we now see how being worshiped is as much a burden as a gift. WicDiv plays neatly with ideas around celebrity, with pop and rockstars being the modern gods, but now we see the hard work behind that, the double edged sword of having a fan base that needs to be pleased, that will turn rabid at one misstep.

WicDiv also deal with issues outside the norm for speculative fiction. It has gay, bi and trans characters to the fore and also comments on its own cultural appropriation (Amaterasu, a Japanese shinto sun god, is reincarnated from Emily, a school girl from Exeter). It points out the ridiculousness in using cultural artefacts and concepts for entertainment even as they remain divine, and reveals the social privilege being played out even amongst deities.

The writing is as consistent as ever as Kieron Gillen rapidly becomes one of my favourite writers working in comics. For the first time over this arc different artists pick up the pencil from series co-creator Jamie McKelvie (though not permanently). This works well in most cases, with Tula Lotay’s depiction of Tara as a Rhianna/Lady Gaga hybrid a particular high point.

This arc is so strong that it has enticed me back into collecting single issues rather than trades as I don’t think I could wait until next year for the next collected edition. Issue 18 is scheduled for an April release.

GS Rating: 5/5

GS Blogger: Bobby Diabolus

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