Issue 8 is definitely Matt Wilson’s showcase. It’s a glowing, kaleidoscope of colours. If the spectrum of light ever had tantric sex with a laser this would be the 72 hour orgasm. It’s being lost, high and in love in Fabric on a Friday night with all your best friends. It’s that long weekend drinking binge, before you hit 21, where hangovers were a threat old people made, and every second made you laugh so much the Mad Dog 2020 came out through your nose. It’s also an issue of cleverly veiled revelations and teases.
Laura, Cassandra and Inanna are still searching for the truth behind Lucifer’s death. In doing so they find themselves at a very select event, an underground party hosted by Dionysus, at a secret location. Dionysus (or Bacchus as he is otherwise known) is the god of good times, drinking, craziness and fertility. He’s a potent sort, with plenty of influence over his fans, and this is very much evident in this issue. His power scares Laura.
The party is presented in a very familiar point of view. Anyone who has seen Human Traffic, that wonderful film about drug culture and music, set in Cardiff, will recognise what is being conveyed. Apart from being Danny Dyer’s first and last greatest piece of acting, Human Traffic has one of the most realistic portrayals of the effects of mind altering substances shown in celluloid. Dionysus’s party is one such example. We see, initially confusing, snippets of conversations, reactions to questions, and hypnotic movements and dancing all placed within the eponymous ‘1,2,3,4’ tagline. I imagine that the music playing is ‘Fuck the Pain Away’ by Peaches. It suits the colour, setting and style of this dangerous, intoxicating, industrial, psychedelic overdose. In this case the drug of choice is Dionysus himself.
McKelvie has sacrificed precious panel space with this ‘1,2,3,4’ theme, and it is evident, therefore, how important these numbers are. Every panel alternates with these numbers, with the layout and design changing page, by page, in neon, glowing shades, hues and lines. And the colours. Wow. Wilson has squeezed every combination of colour contrast, with not a single pencil line of black in site. It’s like an outpatient from a lunatic asylum has gone mental with the flood fill tool in Photoshop. Nevertheless, it all works. the varying tones sit together perfectly, and it is evident Wilson has researched and experimented with these until they complimented each other, with each shade bursting in mad blooms from every panel, like holding old film negatives up to a lamp and viewing the crazy inverse images that were created by the light shining through.
When the colours stop, you feel the come down just as if your own body had finally soaked up the toxicants of the weekend. You will also remember a feeling of unease as you read. Despite the euphoria portrayed, something terrible is imminent. Plenty happens in this issue, despite the setting being fairly static. A lot is revealed very concisely and, if you have been following this series from the start, you will be happy and annoyed in equal doses with the clues and hints that are being made. This is Gillen’s power; the ability to tease you right to the next issue. Trades are great, but you owe it to yourself to read these comics issue by issue. The time between is exquisite bitter-sweet torture.
The Wicked + The Divine #8 can be bought in print and digital from from Image Comics from the 25th of February