Title: The Wicked + The Divine.
Story Arc: The Faust Act.
Writer(s): Kieron Gillen.
Artist(s): Jamie McKelvie.
Colourist(s): Matthew Wilson.
Letterer(s): Clayton Cowles.
Publisher: Image Comics.
Release Date: November 12th, 2014.
My Overall Rating:
Everyone has dreamt of becoming a divine entity at least once in their life. Imagine all the power that one could wield upon entering the domain of gods. Imagine how the mundane responsibilities of everyday life could be turned on their heads and shut behind a closet that you’ll never have to open again. Imagine what you’ll be able to achieve among mortals as others fear and show reverence upon your sight. That is until your obsession for godlike abilities leads you into a realm of drama that you never could’ve foreseen. Teamed up with artist Jamie McKelvie, writer Kieron Gillen (Star Wars: Darth Vader, Young Avengers) delivers a contemporary fantasy comic book series published by Image Comics with the first volume collecting the first five issues and introduces readers to Laura and her obsession with the Pantheon.
What is The Wicked + The Divine: The Faust Act? On January 1st, 2014, in Britain, the young Laura attends a musical performance by Amaterasu and is invited by Lucifer to meet members of the Pantheon backstage. A tragic incident, as Lucifer has fun with a couple of assassins who busted in uninvited, paves the way to a murder mystery where Laura finds herself entangled in a web of conspiracy and inner politics, having her team up with reporter Cassandra in hopes to elucidate the case before gods fall at the hands of human justice. As her journey allows her to meet several other members of the Pantheon, ordinary humans who are reincarnated as deities for two years in a 90-year cycle known as the Recurrence, she’s forced to believe that many of them hide secrets that she has yet to grasp.
“You will be loved. You will be hated. You will be brilliant. Within two years, you will be dead.”— Kieron Gillen
The premise is a goldmine for story-telling but writer Kieron Gillen barely notices its potential as he offers readers an uninteresting protagonist, presented as that innocent youngster who drools at the sight of these gods, serving as a vessel to follow along in this dull murder mystery. Page after page, readers watch as uncharismatic characters talk to each other, revealing some lore elements here and there, never properly fleshing out these ideas in a vain attempt to keep readers hooked. The monotony of the dialogue is ultimately what drags the story to its grave as readers must ponder ways to connect with these deities who are all annoying, despicable, and careless in their own ways. While diversity in these characters is all great, there’s no purpose to it, and clearly isn’t what was going to save this story arc in any way whatsoever.
Where the narrative’s forte might be in its high concept, it superficially dances with it. However, its artwork does keep things afloat. Artist Jamie McKelvie showcases his best stuff when panels only contain expressive and well-drawn faces or in dialogue-less splash pages where he unloads his artistic touch. Unfortunately, most of the time, the volume feels empty, lacking details, and too concerned about focusing on the ineffective story. Take the pages filled with heads talking, for example, and you’ll quickly notice that they’re all drawn over a blank monotone colour, further emphasizing the story’s one-dimensional nature. While the volume does end with a predictable plot twist that could potentially make for some great stories in future volumes, this will be my end of betting on this series’ potential to keep me going.
The Wicked + The Divine: The Faust Act is an underdeveloped and unconvincing tale with an intriguing premise of gods living among humans but suffers from its questionable execution.