Breaking the Cycle in The Wicked + The Divine 36

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

It’s happening now. It’s happening again.

The Wicked + The Divine

Endless cycles are a motif that runs deep throughout The Wicked + The Divine, from the unending dysfunction and madness of the Pantheon, to the circle that makes up their logo and meeting table, to the very nature of their perpetual rise and fall, a neverending cycle of death and rebirth. In fact — if anything she’s said can ever be believed — one of Ananke’s greatest fears seemed to be the idea that this cycle could somehow be broken.

These are both ideas that Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson, and Clayton Cowles dig into in The Wicked + The Divine 36, an issue that spends a shocking amount of space detailing yet another endless cycle, and the rest of the issue breaking an entirely different one. Continue reading

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Secrets as a Weapon in The Wicked + The Divine 35

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

It should be no surprise that almost every character in Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s The Wicked + The Divine are hiding major secrets, nor that, as the series enters its final year, more and more of those secrets are coming to light. What might be a bit surprising, though, is how well the cast leverages these secrets — both their own and others’ — in order to get what they want. Secrets can be a liability, but in the world of WicDiv, they’re just as often an asset, a weapon just waiting to be fired. Continue reading

The Art of Doling Out Answers in The Wicked + The Divine 34

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

There are some stories that fall apart once they start giving out answers. Maybe all it had going for it was its mysteries, or maybe the mythology ended up dull or nonsensical, or maybe they spelled everything out in a long, listless exposition drop — the point is, the spark’s gone once the story reveals its secrets. Thankfully, The Wicked + The Divine is not one of those stories. Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie turn doling out answers into an art-form, finding ways to fascinate even when revealing truths to their cast that readers already know. Continue reading

“High” and “Low” Art Collide in The Wicked + The Divine 1923AD

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

The difference between “high” and “low” art has always seemed rather arbitrary and elitist to me, but that hasn’t stopped debates about the two from raging in one way or another for centuries. That conflict is the heart of The Wicked + The Divine 1923AD, manifesting both in the actual plot and in the format in which Kieron Gillen chooses to tell his story, a tale and a format that can really only serve as celebrations of all kinds of art: “high,” “low,” or otherwise. Continue reading

Best of 2017: Best Series

Series

We all love a good one-off or anthology, but it’s the thrill of a series that keeps us coming back to our comic shop week-in, week-out. Whether it’s a brand new creator-owned series or a staple of the big two, serialized storytelling allows for bigger casts, bigger worlds, and bigger adventures. That bigness was on full display this year, as series made grand statement after grand statement about what they were all about. These are our top 10 series of 2017.  Continue reading

Best of 2017: Best Issues

Best Issues of 2017

Episodic storytelling is the name of the game in monthly comics. Month- or even multi-year-long arcs are fine, but a series lives and dies by its individual chapters. From self-contained one-offs to issues that recontextualize their respective series, this year had a ton of great issues. Whittling down those issues to a list was no easy task (and we look forward to hearing how your lists differ in the comments), but we would gladly recommend any (and all) of these issues without hesitation. These are our top 10 issues of 2017. Continue reading

The Wicked + The Divine Christmas Annual 1: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Drew Baumgartner

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Spencer: One of the most common complaints about prequels is that everyone “already knows the ending,” but sometimes that inevitability can be an asset. Take The Wicked + The Divine Christmas Annual 1, for example. Writer Kieron Gillen and a bevy of talented guest artists fill the special with tales from the early days of the Pantheon. Most are fairly sweet and upbeat in isolation, but when viewed in context with the events that follow, suddenly become much more bittersweet. The inevitable history these characters must someday face creates extra layers of meaning for each story, making the special as a whole that much richer. Continue reading

It’s the Old vs. the Young in The Wicked + The Divine 33

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

The Wicked + The Divine 33 is an absolute gamechanger of an issue (I know we put a spoiler warning before every article, but I just want to reiterate — you do not want this issue spoiled), one that made me rethink everything I thought I knew about the series, and which has me eager to go back and reread it from the beginning. Writer Kieron Gillen addresses this in his letter that closes the issue, stating that he and artist Jamie McKelvie have been unable to even disclose one of the three major themes of the series before because it would have spoiled issue 33’s big reveals. With so much out in the open now, though, I think I have a solid idea what that theme might be. Continue reading

The Futility of Action in The Wicked + The Divine 32

by Spencer Irwin

The Wicked + The Divine 32

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Something Amateratsu said way back in the first issue of The Wicked + The Divine has always stuck with me — she said that the Pantheon exist to inspire. This implies that their direct ability to change the world, for better or for worse, is limited; like most creators and performers, their true strength is (or at least should be) their ability to move others through their art. This seems an especially significant point to keep in mind while reading issue 32, which finds the futility in all of its characters’ attempts at grand gestures or plans — but especially Dionysus’. Continue reading

The Wicked + The Divine 31: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Spencer Irwin

Wicked + The Divine 31

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

In order to increase the likelihood that students will call for medical assistance in an alcohol-related emergency, some colleges and universities have instituted “Good Samaritan” or medical amnesty policies that eliminate or reduce judicial consequences for students involved in alcohol-related medical emergencies. Other schools may reject this type of strategy based on arguments such as the need to “avoid sending the wrong message” about the seriousness of underage drinking.

Doborah K. Lewis & Timothy C. Marchell,
Safety first: a medical amnesty approach
to alcohol poisoning at a U.S. university”

Drew: I first encountered the notion of a medical amnesty policy in college, though I can’t say I gave it much thought at the time. Indeed, it wasn’t until I was in a position to be worried about dangerously drunk/overdosing students not coming forward (I worked for several years at a summer camp for high-school students) that I started to appreciate how boneheaded the “avoid sending the wrong message” camp truly is. Mostly, it just forgets that the rules against drinking and alcohol use are there for the safety of the students in the first place, somehow valuing the sanctimonious tut-tutting of saying “you shouldn’t drink” over, you know, saving the life of a kid who broke the rules. It’s such an obviously flawed attitude, I was honestly taken aback when I saw reports that some sheriff in Florida was explicitly not offering amnesty to folks with warrants seeking shelter from Hurricane Irma. Or, more specifically, he was insisting on conducting unconstitutional ID checks in order to deter anyone with a warrant from seeking the refuge of a hurricane shelter, endangering their lives because he somehow values laws — the things society makes in order to protect people — more than actually protecting people.

Before I get too off topic, my point is that we’re often too preoccupied with the letter of the law to really parse its spirit. Certain things may be illegal because they’re dangerous, but if coming forward about illegal activity makes things objectively less dangerous, we should encourage that behavior. The article I quoted at the top of this piece offers objective data in support of that idea after studying a medical amnesty policy at Cornell, but I think it’s crucial to note that this type of thinking doesn’t just operate at the institutional level. Even in our daily lives we often react badly to honesty simply because we dislike the truths being revealed, but like the researchers at Cornell, we must recognize how that attitude only makes the situation worse. I found myself thinking about this phenomenon a great deal as I read The Wicked + The Divine 31, as issues of amnesty (and lack thereof) cropped up throughout the issue. Continue reading