The Wicked + The Divine is the story of Laura, a seventeen year old English teenager with aspirations that reach to the stars and beyond. She wants to be a god. This goal would of course be completely unattainable in any respect, but in Laura’s world, it actually happens. Every ninety years a very select group of young people start exhibiting incredible powers, and even physical traits relating to one of the twelve gods of the Pantheon (or multiple pantheons…). It leads to the ability to perform any task, succeed at any goal, fulfill any desire, and oh yeah you also have to die in two years. Yeah…die. Despite all of this, Laura is in love with the gods, who have all become musicians and pop stars, and has dedicated her life to becoming one of the them. She gets that chance when she attends a concert of the goddess Amaterasu, and passes out during the show. She’s awakened by a tall and beautiful young woman with piercing eyes that goes by the name of Luci (short for Lucifer), who offers to introduce Laura to Amaterasu. From there, things get complicated…but in the best way possible.
The Wicked and The Divine is very deliberate. The art is insanely sharp and crisp, making a welcome change from the usual excess of pointless lines for the purpose of “style”. Everything about the art is honest. The facial expressions fit with the attitudes, and seem completely exclusive to each person. All the characters are drawn with confidence in extremely clean and simplistic ways, but with insane amounts of detail, that show amazingly in the scenes involving miracles (spell effects) which are breathtakingly complex in their use of colors and tones. The colors jump right off the page, with each character having a palette unique to them, that lends itself to their incredibly off the wall personalities.
The story that volume one tells is very anti-intellectualism in it’s context, but considering the amount of anti-emotional/artistic stories with intellectual themes there are, I’d say it’s a reasonable jab (turnabout is fair play). The characters of the gods are incredibly varied in both style and attitude, and have appropriately extravagant personalities that fit within the context of the story. Laura constantly conveys her hero worship of the gods (which are living as pop stars) through her words as well as her actions, making her a well constructed and highly motivated character. Her monologues, as well as her dialogue in general, sounds exactly like the words of a seventeen year old girl, giving credence to her presence and place in the story. Her intense desire to change herself completely is also represented with the appropriate amount of clarity. Because of the near perfect portrayal of a seventeen year old girl, it’s a very young story at it’s heart. Laura’s teenage angst along with the fascination with beauty, fame, and fortune is an aspect of the story that any teenager (or adult willing to be honest with themselves) can relate to.
The mythology, as well as the incredible characterization in the writing and character design, combined with the vibrant variation of the colors in both the characters and the settings makes The Wicked and The Divine a compelling and incredibly rich visual story from start to finish. There are themes inside rife with philosophical food for thought, but beyond that, it’s a stylish and powerful science fiction/supernatural story with a unique perspective. If you don’t read anything else this week, pick up the Wicked and The Divine Volume One. If you’re interested in a modern fairytale, with hints of Neil Gaiman and a whole lot of classic pop appreciation, you’re not going to be disappointed.