I’m a bit late to the party in reviewing the first issue of “The Wicked + The Divine,” partially because there isn’t that much to say about it. Pretty much everyone new from day one what they would think of this series, and the reviews only serve to reaffirm those opinions.
Let’s start with the obligatory positives before getting into the nitty-gritty. Kieron Gillen’s dialogue is sharp and the plot is paced evenly enough to hold one’s interest. There’s little to no exposition given, just enough details to piece together the central premise. This allows for the story to toy around with the basic concept of the series while the finer world-building details are dispersed over time. Jamie McKelvie’s artwork is solid, if a bit flat at times. Nothing truly eye-catching until the final few pages. The design of all the characters is good, and time will tell what elements of them become more distinctive.
All in all, the issue is good. Everybody knew it would be good and it is good. Good?
So here’s why it’s bad.
In her review of the comic, Marykate Jasper called it “a child of ‘90s Vertigo,” an description I think is a little off the mark. After all, a child only contains 50% of a parent’s DNA, but this is something more along the lines of cloning. Upon opening the book I was immediately struck by the feeling that I had seen this before. A collection of Gods sat around a table making vague and foreboding remarks, does that sound familiar to anyone else? I shrugged it off at first, but the very next scene hit me with the same feeling. A Goddess, Amaterasu specifically, performing in front of a crowd while the narration describes how enraptured they are by her? That solved it! These are both scenes from Sandman! Specifically “Season of Mists” and “Brief Lives.” The similarities don’t end there either, as in the next scene we are introduced to Luci (try and guess who that is) and I challenge anyone to distinguish Luci from Desire.
Now I’m not trying to call the piece a rip-off, or anything of the sort. The similarities are really only on a surface level, and individually I wouldn’t have picked up on either of the first two. But the question remains, is Sandman merely an inspiration for the series (of which there can be little doubt), or is it something more. Just a year ago, I would have been quite happy for a new “Sandman-lite” series on the shelves, but seeing as there is a new Sandman miniseries being published (so they say) I can’t help but feel that “The Wicked + The Divine” is a little poorly timed.
I mentioned above that much of the details surrounding the series’ premise is kept vague for the course of the issue. This is probably for the best, but I do hope that questions are answered sooner rather than later. Ambiguity is good to keep the reader interested, but there’s a point where some basic grounding is needed. For example, in the scene I mentioned which reminded me of “Season of Mists” I have absolutely no idea what was supposed to be happening other than something big and mysterious and, dare I say it, ominous.
I’ll read the next few issues of “The Wicked + The Divine,” but I do hope that it can come into it’s own soon and really wow me.