Overview: Wow, where to start. So, this issue we follow Laura–our narrative partner in this world–to a Amaterasu concert, where we find out that live musical performances in this world are a whole different experience. Afterwards, we meet some of the Pop star/Gods, and are immediately thrown for a loop when an attempted assassination leads to some fantastical happenings. The book begins with a prologue where a mysterious gathering of people in the 1920’s ends with a literal boom which I’m assuming has something to do with our modern day Pop Star/Gods, due to a finger-snapping connective thread. Got all that? Cool, because I think we just witnessed the beginning of the next book you’re going to force all your friends to borrow 🙂
Art: I come into this with a bit of a bias, because I think Jamie McKelvie’s work is fucking rad, but seriously the art in this book is fucking RAD. This is in large part due to the wonderful combo of McKelvie and colorist Matthew Wilson. McKelvie is a talented storyteller, and his character designs are always amazing. He has a real knack for making every character in his books look like the coolest person in the room–sometimes the universe, i.e Miss America Chavez. Wilson compliments these designs with appropriate shading and colors; whether they are bright and loud, as with the make-up of pop princess Amaterasu, or more subdued chic like the killer white pantsuit Luci rocks, it all works perfectly to make you want to know more about these characters. As humans we are naturally drawn to what pleases us visually, so this knack that the art team has, especially on a book about Pop Stars, is crucial to the investment of the reader in the story. It allows Kieron Gillen to withhold information, or begin a book with strange unexplained happenings, and not lose a single ounce of interest, because right away Laura is so damn beautiful and engaging that we just turn the page, and follow her no matter what.
I do have one minor complaint, and it’s a tad nit-picky, but I noticed when Luci snaps her fingers, she used her index finger and too me that seemed weird. I tried it after noticing and I can’t do it, I’ve always used my middle finger, and I assumed that’s what everyone else does, am I wrong? Aside from that minor instance the rest of the book is lovely to look at; McKelvie’s style is rather static, but his facial expressions are perfection, and he understands the beats to hit when depicting action so that the static figures actually do move in our mind’s eye. Without spoiling anything, I loved what Wilson did with the books main scenes of explicit violence, it really fit with the overall tone and established aesthetic of the issue, and was inventive in a “why haven’t we seen that before” kind of way, which is awesome to see.
I’m sure everyone has already started to be drawn to one character or another, and for me that was Luci. From the pompadour, to the white suit, to her attitude–which I’ll touch on later–I was smitten from the very first page she appeared; quoting Beatles songs and Phillip Larkin poems to a hopelessly ignorant teenager–admittedly, I had to look up the latter, so a bit of kettle calling the pot there, but whatever. The rest of the issue only served to confirm my initial instincts–especially her being the Devil, which is right up my demonic alley–but also introduced other equally intriguing people and developments along the way.
Story: I’ve already touched on the story a little, but I’d like to elaborate some, because this was an excellent issue by one of my current favorite writers. To start I’d like to discuss the choice behind using Pop Stars as modern-day deities, which is genius. Gillen has an incredible ability to tap into the zeitgeist and use it as a basis for wonderful stories. With The Wicked + Divine he is providing a commentary on the obsessive levels of fandom, while at the same time feeding it by being so awesome 🙂 He is one of the most accessible creators out there, and very active in reaching out to his fanbase, which just makes us all like him even more. This book is everything a fan of the Gillen/McKelvie/Wilson team could ask for; and I’m sure it will even work to convert some who haven’t discovered them yet.
I’m very intrigued by the prologue as well, and I hope more light is shed on those happenings in issue two. We know that it was a meeting of the 20’s versions of the gods, but which ones, we don’t know yet. Also interesting was the apparent death of some–I’m assuming here–as evidenced by skulls representing them at the table. I wonder if this is Gillen hinting at the publics belief and devotion having sway on the longevity of any given deity on Earth. Maybe with trends or popularity going up and down through the years, certain gods are more “en vogue” so they are the ones who are allowed to wander the Earth amongst the living. I’m sure the rules will be explained in the future, but this is the internet, and if I predict something before it happens, I’m automatically cooler than everyone who didn’t and I get to brag about it; so bear with me, I’m just establishing precedence 😉
So far the Gods we’ve met are Luci/Lucifer, Amaterasu, and Sakhmet. We’re all familiar with Lucifer, so I’ll just skip her/him–I’m sure it’s ambiguous–and move on to the others. Amaterasu is a Shinto goddess whom the Emperor of Japan is a supposed descendent. In myth/dogma if you will, she is Goddess of the Sun and along with her sibilings created Japan. She ruled the Sun and with it daytime, while her brother Susanoo who ruled the Moon and night. I thought this was interesting, because that’s the opposite genders of Greek/Roman where Apollo rules the Sun and Selene/Luna the Moon; Japan being a misogynistic society in many ways, apparently is not when it comes to Shintoism. We don’t really get an idea of Amaterasu as a person, except that she is very young–17–and is taking her fame/ascension seriously as a responsibility and destiny. I’m guessing we’re going to get some elaboration on her next month, because it’s her face on the cover, should be very interesting and I can’t wait.
We know even less about
Rihanna Sakhmet. Sakhmet, or Sekhmet, according to Wikipedia—what, you thought I just knew this shit? Thanks!–is an Egyptian goddess with a lion’s head; which explains the mentioning of her character acting like a cat. She is the Goddess of fire, war, vengeance, menstration–more misogyny?–and medicine; apparently Egyptian deities are multi-taskers 🙂 She is a daughter of Ra–another Sun God, interesting–and is considered the arbiter of justice in the judgment hall of Osiris, the God of the underworld. So we do see a connection with these three at least, they all have something to do with death and/or the Sun. This could be seen as an allusion to the beginning and the end, Alpha and Omega, but again that might just be me trying to seem smart on the internet. The pieces are there, so it’s fun to speculate since it’s all we can do until Gillen fills us in.
The issue picks up towards the end when an attempt is made to assassinate all the lady-Gods we’ve met, by some masked men on a rooftop–atheists?–thankfully for the rest of them, Luci proves her awesomeness by handling it. That does lead into the issue’s cliffhanger, where we witness some pretty graphic courtroom shenanigans, and a possible framing of our lovely She-Devil. I found this part to be strange because Luci appeared to be overly concerned with proving herself innocent, when I was thinking she probably shouldn’t care less about our Earth-bound laws and justice system, but I don’t know the rules Gillen is playing by, so it’ll be interesting to see where this goes in subsequent issues. Will Luci be the first incarnation of the Devil to care about humans? Or is she just putting on a front to conceal her real identity?
Conclusion: Well, it’s safe to say I really enjoyed this first issue, the creative team is off to a wonderful start, and I’m more and more excited every time I start to think about the possibilities. Beautiful art and an intriguing premise make me so happy, and I urge anyone who’s on the fence about this title to give this first–extra big–issue a shot. It’s charming, smart, hip, and everything else you wished you were in High School 🙂 At the very least you’ll find out just how cool you really are–hint if you don’t like it, you’re less cool according to me and everyone on Tumblr 😉 So what did you all think of this first issue? Do you have a favorite character yet–Luci right?–do you have some insight that proves my predictions wrong?–of course not, that’s impossible. Let me know in the comments below. As always thanks for reading!
Bonus Pullist Playlist suggestions:The Flaming Lips- Yeah Yeah Yeah Song and Do You Realize Chvrches- Gun The Vaccines- Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)