‘The Wicked + the Divine: the Faust Act’ by Kieron Gillen

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Genres: Graphic Novel, Fantasy, Mythology, The Wicked + the Divine, Image Comics, Mystery

Similar books: Iron Druid, Sandman

Previous books in the series/by the author reviewed:

Rating: Recommended

Here’s the TL;DR for my review:

  • Pros
    • Spectacular, vibrant art
    • Kitchen Sink Urban Fantasy, where all the pantheons of gods are true
    • Mystery story
    • Excellent characterization on a conceptual level as well as art level
  • Mixed
    • Doesn’t do a great job of introducing audience to the setting. Adds suspense and intrigue by making the reader question everything, but also adds unnecessary confusion.
    • Most of the gods were mysterious. On one hand it was good because they seemed cosmically weird, on the other hand they just seemed erratic and not in a good way.
  • Cons
    • Plot holes, plot holes as far as the eye can see

Spoiler-tastic Review

Every ninety years twelve gods are reborn. Those gods live for two brief, spectacular years. Then they die.

The year is 2014, and Laura is going to go see the god Amaterasu perform live in concert. Amaterasu reincarnated into a white, red-headed British girl with one hell of a singing voice, and Laura is her biggest fan. In the aftermath of the concert Luci, aka Lucifer Morningstar, invites Laura backstage to meet her idol.

But when backstage there’s an assassination attempt on the gods present. Luci kills the assassins using a miracle, and promptly is promptly arrested for manslaughter. Lucifer, being an asshole, refuses to cooperate- and kills the judge at her trial using another miracle.

Only Laura goes to visit Luci in prison and get her side of the story. Lucifer claims innocence. Lucifer claims that another god killed the judge, to publicly frame her of the murder. Thus begins the story of The Wicked + the Divine.

The gods have basically taken on the role of rock stars, accruing groupies and going to give public performances to make people worship them.

Characters: I liked Luci, the female incarnation of Lucifer. At times helpful, at times exceedingly dangerous, she just wants to live more than her appointed two years. Laura is the little fangirl who’s gotten in way over her head with gods of life and death. Ananke is the mysterious old woman who turns people into gods. Cassandra is the athiest reporter who believes the gods are frauds. Baal is a lightning god who acts like a rap star. Woden is a sexist, racist man in a mask who dresses like he’s from Tron.

That said, none of the characters beyond Laura and Luci seem particularly 2D. We only see one aspect of their personalities- and since most of the introduced characters are gods they’re all bonkers.

Pacing: this book reminds me of ‘Malazan,’ in that we know nothing going into it, are thrown in cold and forced to put together the details from the little we are given. This strategy can work, but I’m not sure it worked here.

Constructive Criticisms:

Plot holes.

We’re told by the characters that the gods like to keep themselves to themselves and don’t care about humans… but the gods literally act like rock stars who demand the adoration of their worshipers.

We’re told that the gods shouldn’t use their miracles in front of mankind because it might scare mankind… but they literally throw magic around like it’s candy.

Why don’t they rule the world? Why are they satisfied being superstars instead? They have literal magic powers and can make people’s heads explode. Why are they afraid of mankind? Why don’t they take what they want? Why did Lucifer allow herself to go to jail?

My final criticism is that the gods seemed erratic, behaving in ways I just didn’t understand. Why is The Morrigain so weird? Why is she in a weird relationship with Baphomet? Why dud Luci allow herself to go to jail? Who is Ananke?

These questions were not answered in this story, but they might be answered in future ones. I’m holding this criticism in abeyance while I wait for future graphic novels.

I really wanted to love this book. It’s an Urban Fantasy graphic novel with fantastic art which focuses on mythology- it’s so my jazz. But the graphic novel’s implementation just isn’t quite there. I liked it enough to read more in the series (I already have the next novel requested from the library) but I have to be honest with you that this wasn’t perfect.

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