Tag Archives: kieron gillen

Review: The Wicked + the Divine #30

WicDiv30CoverThe Wicked + the Divine #30 is definitely a setting up the pieces on the game board issue from Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson with unlikely allies Woden and Cassandra putting the finishing touches on their literal plot moving machine. However, most of WicDiv #30 is dedicated to Dionysus, Baphomet (finally), Morrigan, and other members of the Pantheon talking out their feelings. Gillen, McKelvie, and Wilson have built up these characters over several years, and it’s novel and nice to see new sides of them before all hell breaks loose.

One of the coolest parts of WicDiv #30 is that the entire power trio of the Morrigan appears, including the violent Badb and the underutilized Gentle Annie. The trade off between sweet and sad, harsh and loud, and something crazy in-between reminded me a lot of a three piece femme punk band I recently called The Coathangers where the lead guitarist does melodic vocals and the drummer does growls. (She would probably shoot off crows if she was a WicDiv character.) Even though Gentle Annie is the one who finally relents and let Dio and Baphomet chat, she is creepy as hell and basically predicts Dio’s death with a kind smile. He is the most decent member of a very corrupt Pantheon, is starting to have feelings for Urdr, and was torn to pieces by the Titans in classical mythology so it seems like his demise is imminent. Like Gentle Annie says, “Only so much of ickle Dio to go around.”

Luckily, before his possible death, Dionysus gets to be the most supportive friend ever and try to talk Baphomet through the fact that he is part of an abusive relationship although Baph wards off any serious talk with quips and bad puns about British political parties. His evasion is fleshed out visually by McKelvie, who draws him with sunglasses in stark contrast to Dio’s open, honest eyes in the midst of negative space. Baphomet is closed off and too bonded to Morrigan, who has been manipulating him ever since she made him into a member of the Pantheon instead of just a Goth fuckboy version of the Valkyries. The flashback to him joining the Pantheon is just plain tragic along with his almost nihilist resignation to his current fate. Gillen and McKelvie handle Baphomet’s relationship situation in a thoughtful manner and focus on his pain, how he is sadly deflecting it, and not the sexy Goth-ness of him and Morrigan.

IckleDio

While Dio and Baphomet are having a heart to heart in the Underground, McKelvie and Wilson make a two page sort of return to the superhero genre when Baal and Amaterasu accidentally “bust” Sakhmet, who is actually a fangirl. This little scene provides some comic relief in the middle of a pretty tough and foreboding WicDiv #30 with a close-up reaction shot of Minerva, who is the Oracle to Baal’s Batman, freaking out taking the cake. The sequence also show that the sky gods are still a little bit delusional and think that everything can be fixed by capturing Sakhmet and Woden’s big ol’ machine, which definitely has its red flags like being powered by a physically and emotionally wounded Dionysus and Woden installing high tech spy cams on the other Pantheon members’ bling.

WicDiv #30 shows that even right before an impending apocalyptic event, Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson still take time to have readers listen and empathize with the Pantheon members’ emotions and problems. They also continue to use the highly stylized trappings of the Pantheon to shed light on real world problems, like abusive relationships. Even though they’re fictional, I care about Dionysus and Baphomet like they are real people and hope for the best for them. But, knowing WicDiv‘s past approach to characters with softer edges (RIP Fangirl Laura and Inanna) that won’t likely be the case.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Jamie McKelvie Colors: Matthew Wilson
Story: 8.5 Art: 8 Overall: 8.2  Recommendation: Buy 

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Exclusive Preview: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #11

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #11

(W) Kieron Gillen (A) Kev Walker (CA) Karmome Shirahama
Rated T
In Shops: Aug 09, 2017
SRP: $3.99

• Aphra’s mission to make quick credits by auctioning off an ancient Jedi artifact is going to plan…
• That is, until it isn’t.
• Meanwhile, a dark figure from Aphra’s past decides to make an appearance…

Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larocca Unleash a New Story in Star Wars #38!

Fans were blown away by their work in Darth Vader, and we fell in love with a rogue archaeologist in Doctor Aphra. Marvel has announced that writer Kieron Gillen will continue to bring his exciting storytelling to a galaxy far, far away along with artist Salvador Larocca when Gillen takes over as the writer for Marvel’s ongoing Star Wars title this fall.

Following the events of The Screaming Citadel, Luke and Leia have faced their own set of challenges, crash-landing on a remote island after being pursued by the Empire. Now, Team Skywalker is gearing up to fight again – in the name of the Rebellion!

It’s a new day for the Star Wars universe, when Gillen and Larocca team up to take the reins on Star Wars #38!

Preview: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #10

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #10

(W) Kieron Gillen (A) Kev Walker (CA) Kamome Kamiyama
Rated T
In Shops: Jul 26, 2017
SRP: $3.99

• Aphra’s back with a brand-new plan that’s guaranteed to pay!
• There’s just one teensy problem…
• It involves surrounding herself by some of the galaxy’s biggest baddies.
• And they don’t like Aphra’s tricks!

Preview: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #9

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #9

(W) Kieron Gillen (A) Kev Walker (CA) Kamome Kamiyama
Rated T
In Shops: Jul 12, 2017
SRP: $3.99

• Aphra’s back with a brand-new plan that’s guaranteed to pay!
• There’s just one teensy problem…
• It involves surrounding herself by some of the galaxy’s biggest baddies.
• And they don’t like Aphra’s tricks!

Review: The Wicked + the Divine #29

WicDiv29CoverDysfunctional relationships are the bread and butter of The Wicked + The Div ine#29, which kicks off “Imperial Phase Part 2” in cringeworthy fashion with Persephone waking up next to a Luci look-alike. Jamie McKelvie‘s art is sultry, and colorist Matthew Wilson trots out a dusky palette for the underworld goddess, but then writer Kieron Gillen’s dialogue fills in the awkwardness that Persephone feels and the total embarrassment of the moment. It’s also a little tragic and toxic too, which is the tone of WicDiv as a series and much of issue 29, which manages to be relationship driven while driving the arc’s plot ahead in the hunt for Sakhmet.

The most intoxicating thing about WicDiv #29 are the pairings and groupings of Pantheon members that Gillen and McKelvie put on display throughout the issue that evoke various emotions. There’s the cut from Laura fangirling at a Baal gig back in the halcyon days of 2013 (or the first arc of WicDiv) to Baal training Minerva to be a killer. He fits into the Pantheon dad role very well giving everyone (Except Persephone) nicknames and coordinating everyone from Persephone to Woden. Baal seems like more of a general than a pop star, and his regimented training exercises and walk and talk style are the complete opposite of the raw energy of the flashback with its pixelated colors from Matthew Wilson and the easy swagger of his movements drawn by Jamie McKelvie. However, no one can really control Persephone as a London cop remarks after he asks her some questions about Sakhmet’s disappearance.

BaalPersephoneFail

Persephone slinks into her destined Destroyer role throughout WicDiv #29 mostly through lying to everyone and using her abilities to presumably cover up these lies. The big reveal of the issue is that Sakhmet is holed up in Persephone’s flat yet she lies to the police, Baal, and Urdr about the kitten themed murderer’s whereabouts and throws in yet another deception to Urdr when she says she’s going home, but then gets a sad club montage. The reason for sheltering Sakhmet is pretty evident: Persephone loves her. In a conversation with Urdr, she even says that Sakhmet was her girlfriend. In this panel, McKelvie lifts the hard, chthonic goddess facade, and Persephone is Laura again pining over the woman she cares about and happens to make terrible decisions. Love definitely makes you do the wacky, including harboring fugitives, and Gillen gets this out in some of the dialogue where Persephone flat out tells Baal that she can’t fight Sakhmet.

Visually, the scene stealer of WicDiv #29 is Morrigan as Persephone, Urdr, and Dionysus return to the Underground. Because of Baphomet’s affair with Persephone, Dionysus ends up taking point and getting an audience with the goddess, who McKelvie and Wilson imbue with a dark majesty. There is only light in the Underground because Morrigan wills it, and McKelvie and Wilson obscure a lot of the characters’ faces and bodies in this scene. With Persephone taking more of an antagonistic role by helping Sakhmet, Morrigan is the new wild card. She knows that Sakhmet is a threat to everyone, including herself, and says so in her usual, flowery dialogue. However, she isn’t a fan of the Pantheon prying into her abusive relationship with Baphomet, especially Dionysus, who stays in the Underground until he sees Baphomet. Dionysus using his empathy and kind heart more actively has been one of the highlights of both parts of “Imperial Phase” although I fear that Badb may rip the dance floor god to pieces down the road.

morrigan

Toxic relationships are the main theme of WicDiv #29, and “Imperial Phase 2” starting out. At this point, Persephone isn’t a physical Destroyer, but a metaphorical one to her former friendships. Baal can barely look at her and walks away after he’s sent her on a mission to the Underground. She is dealing with Sakhmet’s actions by sleeping with someone who looks like her first “bad girl” crush Luci and lying to everyone. It’s tough to see this bright eyed fangirl become such a trainwreck, and Gillen, McKelvie, and Wilson rub salt in the wound by including that flashback of her at Baal and Sakhmet’s first gig.

With a dollop of dark energy and pinch of sadness in Jamie McKelvie’s art and Matthew Wilson’s colors, WicDiv #29 continues to chronicle Persephone’s development into the Destroyer as Kieron Gillen throws away the seemingly beautiful apple that was the Pantheon’s relationships and exposes its rotten core, black as Morrigan’s wardrobe.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Jamie McKelvie Colors: Matthew Wilson
Story: 9 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.8  Recommendation: Buy 

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #8

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #8

(W) Kieron Gillen (A) Andrea Broccardo (CA) Marco Checchetto
Rated T
In Shops: Jun 28, 2017
SRP: $3.99

“THE SCREAMING CITADEL” – PART 5
• Jedi! Symbiotes! Rebels! Murderbots! Smugglers! Archaeologists! This one has it all!
• But can any survive the horrors of the Screaming Citadel?

Preview: James Bond: Service (Special)

James Bond: Service (Special)

writer: Kieron Gillen
artist: Antonio Fuso
cover: Jamie McKelvie
FC • 48 pages • $7.99 • Teen+

In contemporary politics, where Britain’s world standing is often more zero than 007, an assassin plans to exterminate the “special relationship,” and lead Britain and the United States into a very dark place…especially when he does so by aiming down the sights of an ancient Enfield rifle! It’ll test Bond’s deadly talents to their limits, in order to defeat the assassin and avert certain geopolitical disaster…

A stand-alone, oversized special written by Kieron Gillen (The Wicked + The Divine, Darth Vader) and drawn by Antonio Fuso (Torchwood, Drive) with their thrilling take on the icon of espionage. Featuring a cover by Jamie McKelvie (The Wicked + The Divine)

Review: The Wicked + the Divine 455 AD

Using an even more twisted version of Lucifer from the Pantheon as an object lesson, writer Kieron Gillen, guest artist Andre Araujo (Avengers A.I.), and colorist Matthew Wilson tell the story of Rome in a single narrative that begins with a glorious literal burst of triumph before denigrating into senseless, violence, hubris, and death. The story is set in 455 AD, and the Roman Empire is on its last legs as Geiseric and the Vandals threaten to destroy Rome once and for all. But Lucifer casts aside his name and takes on the mantle of “Julius Caesar” because he thinks he can save the Roman Empire all by himself and not be the 5th century version of Caligula or Nero. He and his boyfriend, Bacchus (The Roman version of Dionysus) get decidedly mixed results from this little escapade.

Andre Araujo and Matthew Wilson are the perfect art team for capturing the gorgeous heights and the farcical lows of the Roman Empire in WicDiv #455. Araujo can handle the detailed crowd shots like Lucifer’s “triumph” and the flame and gore filled environs of his fall into becoming an imitation of Nero, but he also is a wonderful artist of gestures and facial expressions. Ananke is a hated character in the main WicDiv series, but Araujo makes her a vulnerable, almost pathetic figure, who pleads for her life before a power hungry Lucifer. She’s not necessity or the creator of the Pantheon in that situation, but just an old woman. However, there’s a glimpse of the Ananke we know and hate at the end as she makes jokes about Vandals and covers world history’s collective asses. Wilson’s colors accents Lucifer’s powers with red and golds worthy of an emperor as he shuns the slave saying “Memento mori” and rides into the Forum like a wannabe Julius Caesar even though he’s just won a relatively minor victory.

On a deeper level, Gillen and Araujo show that the Pantheon being their era’s version of pop stars might not lead to them being worshiped and treated like celebrities In Rome, actors were seen as immoral, and homophobic slurs were often hurled at them. (There was a reason that Ovid was exiled, and Augustus was deified.) Sure, everyone went to see Plautus’ comedies, occasionally Seneca’s dark tragedies, and of course, the gladiator games, but these people didn’t have the greatest reputations. Gillen and Araujo riff off on this idea through speeches about Nero being ridiculed for being interested in music and poetry instead of being a statesman, and then images of Lucifer literally playing the bodies of senators like a harp instead of using them to help him rule Rome. But there are even more layers to this provocative image, like the inevitability of the Roman republic’s turn to authoritarianism or the parade of weak, adolescent emperors from Caligula to Elagabalus and beyond. Lucifer should be a metaphorical intern or have an entry level position at the most and not be the “CEO” of one of the world’s greatest empires.

Lucifer/Caesar’s key character trait in WicDiv 455 is childishness, which is honestly one she shared with her present day Pantheon counterpart, who enjoyed mouthing off to government officials and chain smoking. (She would have mocked the actual Chainsmokers though if she was alive to see them.) The 455 version of Lucifer is pretty fucking petulant and doesn’t have 2014’s gift for song quote or barbed one-liners. Gillen and Araujo get the macabre humor beneath his classic Rome fanboy veneer from the opening pages where the genre quickly switches from pastoral to epic, and Wilson’s palette goes from green to red. Lucifer could have had a nice life cuddling with his boyfriend Dionysus and playing songs in fields, but that would be a pretty dull story. Lucifer sees himself as the hero of an epic, but he’s really just a fifth act victim in one of Seneca’s overlong tragedies that Shakespeare and Marlowe added more wordplay and energy to while keeping the body count. And Andre Araujo makes him pull the silliest of faces while attempting to kill Ananke or lecturing to the Senate that wouldn’t be out of place in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Or a grim and gritty reboot of Asterix and Obelix.) if it wasn’t for the serious tone of the story and the general use of red in the background.

WicDiv 455 melds the trashy, lavish, and violent aesthetic of the late period Roman Empire with the thought and creativity of the Augustan Age, and there’s (maybe) no possibility of it being used as propaganda like the Aeneid. Like a passage from the Satyricon, Kieron Gillen, Andre Araujo, and Matthew Wilson meld humanity’s basest desires for sex and violence with our highest urges for glory and legacy into a comic book feast that will have you begging for seconds and looking up Emperor Tiberius’ recipe for roasted dormouse on Pinterest between rereads.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Andre Araujo Colors: Matthew Wilson
Story: 9.5  Art: 10 Overall: 9.8  Recommendation: Buy 

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Star Wars: Screaming Citadel #1

Rebel pilot and rogue archaeologist wander side by side into the darkest shadows of the galaxy as Luke Skywalker reluctantly teams up with Doctor Aphra! The Doctor makes Luke an offer he can’t afford to pass up…one that leads him to a very rare gathering at the heart of the infamous Screaming Citadel. Will Luke find what he’s looking for? Can Aphra be trusted? Or will they both wind up victims of the Citadel’s Queen?

When it comes to Marvel, Star Wars has been a bright spot for pretty much everything released. Nothing has stumbled, even the few crossovers we’ve seen. That’s why with each new release I find myself so excited to see what’s coming next and where things are going. It’s all perfectly fleshed out and expanded upon the movies and television shows delivering things that feel new with each release. Star Wars: Screaming Citadel #1 kicks off the next “event” that will eventually move to Star Wars and Star Wars: Doctor Aphra. And it does so by giving us a lot to chew on and explore.

Spinning out of the recent story arc, Aphra finds herself with a crystal that contains the artificial intelligence of a Jedi and she needs Luke’s help to unlock it. That leads the two to a mysterious citadel and world where they must find favor with the Queen.

Written by Kieron Gillen, the first issue drops us into the action playing off of the character’s personalities and more importantly acknowledging the history between everyone. Luke is maybe a bit naive and at this point in his life he still might be, that’d be my only knock, but Aphra is such a good bullshitter it still makes sense. What’s impressive to me is Gillen’s ability to add so much that feels new and intriguing. There’s at least a dozen (if not more) things just in this issue that I want to learn more about. There’s new races, things mentioned, characters presented, worlds explored, all of it feels new and fresh and when it is a nod to what we’ve seen before there’s still something new there. 40 years to work with, that’s impressive.

The art by Marco Checchetto is absolutely fantastic and that’s helped by the colors of Andres Mossa who continues to deliver on the Star Wars style Marvel has built. The worlds all jump off the page and pop in a way that’s exciting and reflect the story Gillen has delivered. The aliens look unique and new as well and those last few pages had me uttering “what the hell” as the art delivers the shock and awe Gillen is going for.

It’s Marvel Star Wars. That alone is reason enough to check this out and while it’s not great for new readers it builds upon the various excellent history that we’ve had the ability to enjoy over the last year or so. This first issue delivers and has me anxiously awaiting what comes next.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Marco Checchetto Color: Andres Mossa
Story: 9.0 Art: 10 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

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