Tag Archives: kieron gillen

Review: The Wicked + The Divine #22

TTheWickedAndTheDivine_22-1his issue of The Wicked + The Divine concludes the “Rising Action” story arc. After an almost four month hiatus The Wicked + The Divine came back with a wink and a massacre and it was well worth the wait. Issue #22 finishes the arc with a bang and sets up infinite possibilities for where the story can go from here and what the Pantheon will do next.

In case you’re not a regular reader, I’ll give you the cliff notes version of four episodes that lead up to the God Battle Royal that takes place in Issue #22. So far , our “heroes” have weathered an apocalypse style music/murder concert, a coup, a trip to the underworld, a kidnapping from the underworld, “human” sacrifices, double crosses, some back story magic, a slew of pop culture references, a rave fight battle with glow sticks turned light saber, Ananke going straight up evil with monologing included. The wait between issues has been torturous because, every issue since the series returned from it’s four month hiatus,  has been downright , I could see this in a movie, magic. It was like Marvel’s Civil War but, with the Pantheon and it got hella messy.

Instead of taking the easy path, Kieron Gillen doesn’t pick up his story in the obvious place. He makes us wait for it and starts out showing us the big picture before drawing us in to show us what we came for. Instead of Issue #22 picking up on the creepy and, downright ominous final panels of #21 where Ananke is standing over poor Mini’s body in front of a whole lot of fire, holding a knife, we pick up with the sun god, Amaterasu, hunting for reinforcements. We also got to watch Dionysus rave his way through a battle, and the warring sides join forces to save Mini from danger. It was an action packed beginning to a story that gets somber towards the end.

Laura/Persephone is back from the dead, she wants vengeance & she wants it Punisher style as payback for Ananke killing her family. This issue is where Kieron proves how great of a storyteller he is and why the hiatus was worth it.  After saving Mini from the sacrifice attempt, the group takes Ananke prisoner so they can pump her for info. Laura/Persephone is not there to listen and her friends try and stop her from attacking by pleading to her humanity and her memories of her parents.  Just when you think she’s taken her friends words to heart and is going to let Ananke live, Laura/Persephone thinks of her little sister and with a snap of her finger blows up Ananke’s head. It was real, it was visceral, it was beautiful and , it was exactly what the story needed. It reminded us that at the end of the day these “gods” are “human” and flawed. It makes the reader connect to the characters because you can relate.

This issue not only works as a wonderful conclusion to the “Rising Action” arc but, it works as a stand alone issue. You can figure out what happened before and what’s going on now thanks to stellar storytelling and, the amazing art work courtesy of. There is a panel in the beginning where there is a giant lady robot, a la Loki’s Destroyer , shooting LASERS out of her metal nipples while holding a sword and you can see the craft it took to show not only the Destroyer-bot but, some of the carnage. Every panel is rich with so much detail that it adds to the story, even when the characters have nothing to say. So much care went into every aspect of every panel in this issue that I forgot I was reading a comic and not watching a movie.

This issue hit all the marks of a great comic book, right down to the ending of this arc setting up what I’m sure will be yet another great story arc in this already stellar series. There are so many directions that this story can take next and all of them are equally promising. Is Laura/Persephone on the run? What is the ominous Darkness that would make Ananke spend eternities sacrificing four of her god proteges? Has the Darkness been abated or are we about to have some Hellmouth or Cabin in the Woods type action? What’s going to happen to Mini? Does Ananke count as a fourth sacrificial? Issue #23 can go anywhere and, thanks to the lure set in this issue, I can’t wait.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson
Story: 9.1 Art: 9.2 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Wicked + The Divine #22

TheWickedAndTheDivine_22-1Well, you can’t say that this arc of The Wicked + The Divine hasn’t been wild from start to finish. Because the ending is somehow even wilder than the start.

For those worried about Amaterasu being a coward by running away in the previous issue… Well, “fearful” might be a better term for it after seeing two grown adults get vaporized, but Ammy actually runs off to get the next best grown-up: Cassandra. Which is an accurate description of Cassandra Igarashi, but from her response of “It’s worse than I thought,” that’s not exactly a duty she wants.

These moments between Cassandra and Amaterasu bring me back to #15, where most of the issue was conflict between the two over the issue of appropriation vs. appreciation. One that happened to take place over Hiroshima because flying gods and such. It’s nice to see that Cass and Ammy have at least reached a place of mutual respect with each other, since Ammy immediately ran to Cass when she knew she was out of her depth in regards to Ananke and the god fight happening outside of her window. It also makes me sad how simplistic the discourse around Amaterasu was after that issue, boiling her down to her more problematic elements instead of her whole character. It’s easy to imagine she’ll be called a coward for running to find Cassandra instead of throwing herself in front of Minerva when Ananke came knocking, but knowing to find someone who could be level-headed enough to actually diffuse the situation and getting everyone to focus? Not cowardly at all. And when it was successful? I’ve never been so happy to be proven wrong about how Cassandra would be perceived by her peers.

Plus, the lighting in the scene where Ammy finds Cass is beautiful. I feel like I’m running out of nice things to say about Matt Wilson’s coloring every months because he always finds new ways to impress me. This issue especially has so much soft neon glow and fire reds that it’s sort of beautiful in its chaos.

The issue doesn’t have much in the way of giant fight scenes since most of that was taken care of in 21. However, it does have one climactic fight that includes a nickname I laughed for a straight minute over and ends in a literal explosion like any good arc ending for The Wicked + The Divine. However, this particular explosion has a very ‘Youth Gone Wild’/”No Gods, No Masters” sort of implication. Or maybe “Gods with No Masters” is a better phrase there. Either way, we got ourselves a situation where these kids either saved themselves or doomed us all. Knowing Kieron Gillen’s usual writing, probably the latter. I could still be right about us being all doomed by the hubris of Gods.

At least Woden may have some semblance of a spine now? Only time will tell.

With bringing “Rising Action” to a close, The Wicked + The Divine #22 brings forth another solid issue with great character moments with Cassandra, Woden, and Persephone and the biggest status quo shakeup the comic has seen yet. As the comic heads into its “Imperial Phase,” it should be interesting to see how all the pieces begin to settle come November.

The Gods are running out of time. Let’s get nuts.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson
Story: 8.5 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.75

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Fresh Romance Vol. 1

FRESH ROMANCE VOL. 1

(W) Kate Leth, Sarah Vaughn, Sarah Kuhn, Marguerite Bennett, Kieron Gillen
(A/C) Arielle Jovellanos with Amanda Scurti, Sarah Winifred Searle, Sally Jane Thompson with Savanna Ganucheau, Trungles, Christine Norrie
(CA) Marguerite Sauvage (Retail cover), Babs Tarr (Oni Press Exclusive variant)
AGE RANGE: 18 and up
GENRE: Romance
PRICE: $24.99
224 PAGES

The critically-acclaimed anthology Fresh Romance is finally available in print! Have you been wondering what the fuss is all about? Fresh Romance is an exciting collection of romance comics from some of comics’ most talented creators, including Kate Leth, Arielle Jovellanos, Sarah Vaughn, Sarah Winifred Searle, Sarah Kuhn, Marguerite Bennett, and Trungles. From unhappy historical marriages to covert teenage romances, there’s something for everyone in Fresh Romance.

FRESHRV1-MARKETING_Preview-1

Superstar Artists Cover Darth Vader #25 – The Epic Finale!

It has all been building to this! The epic conclusion to the blockbuster ongoing series! Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca’s critically acclaimed Darth Vader comes to a close later this year in the oversized Darth Vader #25. To commemorate this monumental issue, Marvel is rolling out the red carpet with covers from some of the best and brightest artists in the industry.

In addition to a main cover by legendary artist Juan Gimenez, Darth Vader #25 will also include a stunning array variant covers rendered by the industry’s best. Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada, Chris Samnee, Michael Cho, Sara Pichelli, Cliff Chiang and more lend their artistic prowess to the Dark Lord of the Sith!

Who lives? Who dies? Find out as it all comes crashing down later this year in the highly anticipated

DARTH VADER #25!
DARTH VADER #25 (JUN160929)
Written by KIERON GILLEN
Art by SALVADOR LARROCA
Cover by JUAN GIMENEZ
Variant Covers by
ADI GRANOV (JUN160930), JAMIE MCKELVIE (JUN160931),
MICHAEL CHO (JUN160932), KAMOME SHIRAHAMA (JUN160933),
JOE QUESADA (JUN160935), CHRIS SAMNEE (JUN160936),
SARA PICHELLI (JUN160937), CLIFF CHIANG (JUN160938),
And SALVADOR LARROCA (JUN160939)
Action Figure Variant by JOHN TYLER CHRISTOPHER (JUN160940)
Quesada Sketch Variant Also Available (JUN160934)

Darth_Vader_25_Cover

Review: The Wicked + The Divine #20

TheWickedAndTheDivine_20-1This particular issue of the ‘Rising Action’ arc of The Wicked + The Divine isn’t very heavy on the action, but I haven’t been this upset over an issue of straight talking since Woden revealed how evil he is in #14.

Persephone meets Cassandra in the garden where the life of Laura ended and reveals to her why she’s alive in the first place. Because there is no one else she trusts with the knowledge, and there is no one else who remembers her as Laura. Not just Laura who witnessed the death of Lucifer, but Laura the fangirl. The evolution of the relationship of Cassandra and Laura over the course of the series from “I don’t like [her]. But I do trust her” to now where Persephone allows Cassandra to feel her first miracle has been a slow and quiet one, but beautiful to witness all the same.

Through Persephone, Cassandra is shown the truth of the events the night Laura was “killed” as well as the true nature of Baphomet. Without spoiling the reveal of how Baphomet ascended, there’s something to be said about how this series deals with chosen names versus given names. Persephone has actively rejected being called Laura, while Cassandra still uses the name she gave herself pre-Godhood and Baphomet has two given names he’s rejected because he’s a nerd.

The subtitle of this issue is “The Mess We’re In.” While that is accurate, another subtitle could have easily been “Baphomet is not the lying jackass you thought he was.” Granted, he’s still a jackass, but the issue reveals the backstory behind every action of his that’s happened since issue 11. Of course, try telling that to the rest of the gods. Mark my words, Cassandra is going to live up to her name if she ends up trying to tell the truth to the rest of the Pantheon.

Most of this issue takes place in flashback, which once again allows colorist Matthew Wilson to shine. In vibrant pinks and blues, the story of Persephone in Hell is done in a way that reminds of that discordant feeling of looking at something meant to be viewed by red and blue 3D glasses. Even in the underground where everything is supposed to be darkness, this color scheme shifts perfectly along with it. It gives such a perfect sense of view and unreality that the usual color palette wouldn’t have since this is all from Persephone’s perspective. Along with that, there’s the subtle way Jamie McKelvie changes Persephone’s outfit with each frame of her in the Underground that might take a second read to catch.

By the end of the issue, Persephone issues her ultimatum to Cass and the Norns: join them in Valhalla to save Minerva or don’t, because they’ve already started either way. It’s hard to say right now if it’s on purpose, but Kieron Gillen very much gave Persephone the “35 minutes ago” moment of the series here.

While not high on the action, The Wicked + The Divine #20 is a gorgeously colored issue that spills plot revelations that mean huge things for the rest of the story. The question now is will those plot revelations be believed going into the final battle of this arc? Hard to say, but it there is now an extra sense of dread in the air now that Persephone has spilled the secrets to another living soul. Of course, she does this to a woman named Cassandra. For all I know, we’re all doomed by the hubris of Gods.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson
Story: 8.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Read

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Wicked + The Divine #19

WicDiv19hotWicDiv #19 reads like the first skirmish in an epic war, but it’s an amusing skirmish indeed as writer Kieron Gillen provides a little more insight into the characters of Minerva and especially Dionysus, who gets his first substantial panel time since WicDiv #8. (What with him being a 24/7/365 dance floor.) His worshipers/ravers are so connected to him that even when he takes a five minute break for a soda and fries, they got wild so it’s safe to say that he’s a little irritated when Baphomet draws him into a battle between the Sky gods and Underground ones. Gillen writes him as peaceful in the mode of the late Inanna while artist Jamie McKelvie and colorist Matthew Wilson show that he is less than apt in the art of combat thanks to this pacifist nature.

WicDiv #19 doesn’t end on any “WTF” cliffhangers like #17 or #18, but it’s nice to see the sides set in the battle between the two factions of the Pantheon with Ananke turning into a full bore, unapologetic, and unsympathetic monster when Minerva’s special owl catches a recording of her talking about sacrificing Minerva to prevent the “great darkness”, or the end of the Pantheon cycles that was hinted at back in Ananke’s solo issue. Supposedly, Persephone is connected to the great darkness as the “destroyer figure”, but the jury is still out on this fact as Persephone is more force of nature than teen fangirl with superpowers as she silently brings green tendrils from the Earth to knock off

The action is really the best part of WicDiv #19 as well as McKelvie’s mindboggling ability to switch from Morrigan to Badb and even Gentle Annie (Who gets an incredibly pleasing character voice from Gillen.) through gestures and body language. Gentle Annie comes off as a laidback and maybe a little stoned with relaxed posture while Badb is all rage and expletives. Wilson’s colors play a big part in her transformation from subtle shifts in shadows to bigger switches from light grey to crimson as Gentle Annie immediately turns into Badb. McKelvie and Wilson let her go full death/war goddess in the issue’s best composition, which is a full page spread of her transforming into a horrific crow that even takes Baphomet by surprise. (Also, with his wild lightsaber, er, flaming sword arcs and general evil douchelord behavior, Baph and Kylo Ren from Star Wars: The Force Awakens would totally be frenemies.) This follows a full page splash of Baal generally crashing the party and being a badass with his beard and lightning with Wilson’s purples continuing to show that the only reason he gives a shit about this Pantheon civil war is because Baphomet killed Inanna. (Except Baphomet is saying Ananke did it. It will be interesting to see his justification for lying like this probably because Ananke is the terrible mother figure he wished he didn’t have.)

BadbUnleashed

Morrigan and Baal are the powerhouses of their respective factions whereas Sakhmet is more fluid leaping from panel to panel and talking trash while doing it. The characterization doesn’t stop during the fight sequences, but these physical battles actually enhance them with Amaterasu not taking any action against the Underground deities (Who she somewhat considers friends, especially Persephone.) and just zipping in like Superman to get Minerva to “safety”. She is the opposite of the destructive Morrigan and has the precision of one of Cyclops’ optic blast (Because Gillen used to write Uncanny X-Men.) as McKelvie cuts to her always on-point eye makeup, and she grabs Minerva without harming a soul. Wilson uses a solar yellow to show her purity and kindness. It’s pretty sad to see her in the service of a murderer and possible future child killer.

AmaterasuSuperman

WicDiv #19 deepens the evil of Ananke and the characters of Minerva and Dionysus while having some pyrotechnics-filled god battles from artist Jamie McKelvie and colorist Matthew Wilson. Writer Kieron Gillen also starts to hint at Persephone not being the heroic, divine upgrade of Laura that fans expected as both the sky and underground Pantheon are cast in a net of lies, strained relationships, and volatile personalities. Morrigan and Baal are definitely the proverbial water and oil mixture (Or Yeezy/Nightwish mashup I never knew I wanted.) after this issue despite not interacting too much before.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Jamie McKelvie Colors: Matthew Wilson
Story: 8 Art: 9 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Image Comics Announces Creators for Creators

Creators for CreatorsAt Image ComicsImage Expo it wasn’t just new products that were announced, they also announced a new non-profit, Creators for Creators. The goal of the organization is to “encourage, support, and promote original works through grants and education.”

The program will be a combination of financial backing and mentorship. The plan is to give $30,000 to a single cartoonist or a wrister/artist duo to support their creation of original work of between sixty-four and one hundred pages over a single year. A committee will decide the recipient.

The mentorship mentioned will be beyond creation and will cover all aspects of the comic-creating experience to help create a firm foundation when it comes to the creative, business, legal, and financial aspects of the business.

Recipients will retain rights to their works and will not just be supported by Image, but also Iron Circus Comics. The long term goal is to also make the website a resource to educate creators.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old and you have until May 1, 2016 to apply. You can learn more here.

The Creators for Creators grant was founded by Charlie Adlard, Jordie Bellaire, David Brothers, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Nick Dragotta, Leila del Duca, Matt Fraction, Kieron Gillen, Jonathan Hickman, Joe Keatinge, Robert Kirkman, Jamie McKelvie, Rick Remender, Declan Shalvey, Fiona Staples, Eric Stephenson, C. Spike Trotman, and Brian K. Vaughan.

Review: The Wicked + The Divine #18

WicDiv18WicDiv #18 signals the beginning of the comic’s imperial phase with the triumphant return of artist Jamie McKelvie and colorist Matthew Wilson as they and writer Kieron Gillen drop the introspective character studies of the previous arc for some well-earned action sequences and magical musical explosions. It’s like when your favorite band stopped playing small clubs and intimate venues and started playing arena rock. But damn good arena rock, like Queen or Rush in the late 70s and early 80s, the Smashing Pumpkins on their Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness album, or Muse in this millennium. (Before they started putting songs on Twilight soundtracks.)

But beneath the most creative use of divine powers since the death of Luci, WicDiv #18 is a comic about transformation. Somehow, Laura has survived being “killed” by Ananke after being transformed into the 13th Pantheon member, Persephone, and she is back with a vengeance playing gigs with black, oozing tendrils in the background as McKelvie and Wilson recreate the rhythmic dance floor layout in WicDiv #8 but paint it black this time. And her little bit of attitude that was kind of adorable in the previous issues has been exchanged for pure coolness as she performs feats that and is in pure sarcasm mode. The squeeing fangirl has become a goddess.

PersephoneSlay

However, through Ananke’s tense attitude and constant freaking out, Gillen reveals that Persephone is something called the “Destroyer” and sets the stage for a war between the underworld gods and sky gods. Think Civil War without the heavy handed political allegories and with more stylish outfits. (I hate to use this word, but Persephone is definitely on fleek when she faces off against Ananke, Woden, and Sakhmet.) The direction of the plot has gone from passive aggressive sniping and covert actions to all out war between hot headed young gods while their handler continues to manipulate them.

However, the big action beats on WicDiv #18 really hit home thanks to the more character focused direction of the previous arc as small moments, like Baphomet losing his parents in WicDiv #16 or Baal beating up Morrigan in WicDiv #12, have solid payoffs. For example, Morrigan reminds Baphomet of his own orphan status, and leads him to saving Minerva’s parents even if they don’t show up on panel. And Baal and Baphomet are really in a kind of “Bad Blood” situation as they face off physically twice in the course of this issue’s melee with some flame sword and fierce headbutting action. (Wilson really juices up the pastels when Baal headbutts Baphomet in a kind of testosterone fueled homage to Baal’s dead lover Inanna, which is the reason why he hates Baph so much.)

BaalHeadbuttBaph

Everyone is really angry in WicDiv #18 as McKelvie and Wilson turn up the bombast as divine energy and speed lines are flying everywhere. But it’s not mindless Hollywood destruction porn as the team puts the Pantheon members in clever or interesting situations, and Gillen is always ready with a timely quip written in each character’s distinct voice from Baphomet’s douchiness to Morrigan’s pretention and Badb’s plain rawness. Woden’s outburst of “Laura Fucking Wilson” when Persephone does some Earth-bending meets The Matrix with a side of Green Lantern stuff is the funniest moment of the issue. (And of course, Ananke gives him a chiding.) McKelvie takes familiar visual elements of Laura like her beaten up smartphone and again transforms them into weapons of war against Ananke and her supporters. And her “S’okay” expression from when she gave Baal the brush returns after she uses her Persephone abilities to create some kind of a portal from Valhalla to the Underworld, which has been impossible up to this point. Gillen and McKelvie consign decompression to the flames of Tartarus, and Persephone play an immediate, game changing role in the series’ plot while also starting to flesh out the differences between her and Laura.

After opening with a gorgeous full page spread of Persephone in all her glory and creating a parallel between Persephone losing her parents and Minerva still wanting to keep hers, WicDiv #18 dives right into the set pieces as the characters that Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson have been building off get to blow off some steam in an epic way. McKelvie truly makes Persephone the star of the show design-wise while making her simultaneously non-chalant and pissed off at Ananke, and Wilson’s color work for her is intoxicating with blacks for the underworld and pinks and greens for spring when she is using her abilities in Valhalla. WicDiv #18 is electrifying reading, and its more quiet final page really messes with the character dynamics and sets up a war, both physical and emotional. No one is going to be okay by time this arc wraps up.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Jamie McKelvie Colors: Matthew Wilson
Story: 9.5  Art: 10 Overall: 9.8  Recommendation: Buy 

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Fans will worship The Wicked + The Divine, Book One

The Wicked + The Divine, Book OneThe New York Times bestselling hit series The Wicked + The Divine by writer Kieron Gillen, artist Jamie McKelvie, and colorist Matthew Wilson will be collected into a stunning deluxe hardcover edition, with must-have bonus material and extensive commentary, available this April.

The Wicked + The Divine is the Eisner-nominated, critically-acclaimed modern fantasy where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods.

The Wicked + The Divine Deluxe Hardcover (ISBN: 978-1-63215-728-7) collects the first two story arcs of the series—issues #1-11, plus commentary and bonus content—and hits comic book stores on Wednesday, April 6th and bookstores on Tuesday, April 12th. It will be available for $44.99.

Listen to Kieron Gillen Chat with Graphic Policy Radio on Demand

On demand: iTunes ¦ Sound Cloud ¦ Stitcher

This Monday saw the return of comic writer Kieron Gillen to Graphic Policy Radio.

Kieron Gillen first came to attention in his 2006 collaboration with Jamie McKelvie, Phonogram. Jamie and he have yet to escape each other, and have somehow roped the otherwise innocent Matt Wilson into this unfortunate pop-comics Katamari. Their most successful work is their 2014 ongoing series, The Wicked + The Divine. Kieron’s other books for Image include Three and the forthcoming The Ludocrats. His other books include many titles published by Marvel (featuring characters you’ve probably heard of) and Avatar (featuring characters you probably haven’t.) He lives in London.

This Monday he talked his career, music, and more!

Some Kieron highlights:

  1. “if you are writing about pop stars you are writing about race”
  2. “canon is stupefying”
  3.  Wondering if he ruined a 14 year old’s life by getting her into The Manic Street Preachers
  4. Teen voices on tumblr absolutely impact how he writes his teen characters
  5. Young Avengers was the Avengers if there’d been no Kirby

Also find out about the 1830 Wicked + Divine pantheon and a comic described as Pokemon meets Mad Max in the style of the Fast and Furious.

Warning: There are Wicked + Divine spoilers at the 1 hour 15 minute mark.

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