Issue Rating; 4.5/5
The Comic is available in both print and digital from Image comics. Follow this link for more details.
If you've already started reading The Wicked + The Divine, you've probably started scratching your head to figure out all the gothic symbology floating around. If you haven't, do pop over to Paul's review of #1 to start the mythological ball rolling. Kieron Gillen's mysterious gods-as-pop-stars opus is a story with lashings of modern cultural references and it is good. Let's get that clear, straight away, it's very good. Nothing is clear, but the reek of hidden meaning draws the reader in with a sense of cosy expectancy. Everything has meaning, and if you don't understand it, you'll certainly be reaching for your nearest internet-enabled device to check out Wikipedia. This is funny, as Gillen knows this; in #2 there is an amusing reference to this particular default response to lack of understanding to the point that even the hand-drawn wikipedia page is accurate in all it's iphony glory. Keep an eye on the style and costumes of the characters too, they are all subtle clues to the nature of the gods they are portraying. Everything has meaning.
By now the iconic openers to each chapter are starting to make sense, especially after several re-reads. It is clear that Gillen respects the reader, and offers little giveaway clues as to who or what will be revealed in the following scenes. With his background in gaming, these little 'mini games' bookmarking each chapter not only compliment the overall beauty and style of the comics but offer a space-solving method to explore the mythology of the characters. This mythology is explored further in #2.
So 1..2..3..4.. onto the plot. Luci(fer) is in jail and Laura, the girls on the bus god-groupie, is trying to help, more out of adulation than altruism, I fear, by connecting Luci with another being who can help her. The cliff-hanger at the end of #1 that Luci was, allegedly, framed for the murder of the judge trying her. A difficult situation for Luci, who loves showing off and has to choose between her own seductive notoriety of being an all powerful being, guilty of exploding the head of a judge, or admitting she is some unknown Thin Duke-era Bowie impersonator nobody. More backstory is revealed here and things become clearer when we understand who Luci is searching for and why. It also leads into a Faustian bargain of worrying proportion and yet another cliff-hanger.
What really sells this series to me is the utter depth of detail and love of the medium that is shown in the artwork. Gillen has worked closely with McKelvie and Wilson to give the reader clues to the mood of the story. The shift from large blocks of darkness to inverted-colour pop art to indicate the gods using their powers, to the gorgeous and heart-rendering silent panels with a single expression that speaks more than a hundred talking head panels, shows both remarkable economy of space, but also a great understanding of the characters that they are creating. Add to that the refreshingly familiar setting for us Brits, it bodes well for future editions. Read this now.