Tag Archives: kieron gillen

The Wicked + The Divine 1831 One-Shot Gets a New Printing

Image Comics is pleased to announce that The Wicked + The Divine 1831 one-shot by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie will be sent back to print in order to keep up with increased customer demand.

The standalone The Wicked + The Divine story travels back to the nineteenth century, to see what became of the Romantic poets one infamous night on Lake Geneva… The critically-acclaimed issue showcases work from Stephanie Hans.

The Wicked + The Divine 1831 one-shot, 2nd printing (Diamond Code SEP168790) will be available on Wednesday, December 7th.

You can read out review!


A First Look at Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #1, Out this December

Because you demanded it! Following the blockbuster finale of Darth Vader #25, the fan-favorite character begins a new journey in Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #1 – the new ongoing series launching December 7th! From blockbuster creators Kieron Gillen and Kev Walker comes Marvel’s first ongoing Star Wars series starring an original character created in the comics!

Following her time in the clutches of Darth Vader, Doctor Aphra has barely escaped with her life. If he ever learns of her survival, he’ll hunt her to the ends of the galaxy. But for now, it’s time for a return to what she does best. With the droids 0-0-0 and BT-1 in tow, she’s off in search of rare artifacts from the galactic center to the Outer Rim and everywhere in between. Aphra’s got debts to pay after all. Just as long as she can stay one step ahead of the Empire, some Bounty Hunters and just about everyone else in the galaxy!

This December, the Star Wars galaxy expands into thrilling new directions as Doctor Aphra makes her explosive solo debut.

Featuring covers by Kamome Shirahama, Elsa Charretier, Jamie McKelvie, John Tyler Christopher, Salvador Larroca, and Rod Reis.


Review: The Wicked + The Divine #23

tumblr_ocdihkx6kh1tuoa2wo2_1280Before the start of this latest arc of The Wicked + The Divine titled ‘Imperial Phase (Part I),’ writer Kieron Gillen told readers to expect decadence as the Pantheon finds a newfound freedom in the wake of Ananke’s destruction. Well, decadence was certainly right on the button as we enter the Imperial Phase with a world building issue from Pantheon Monthly. Because of course, there’s a monthly glossy mag dedicated to the Pantheon.

The structure of this issue was mostly done as a way for Team WicDiv to collaborate with Kevin Wada, whose gorgeous and fashionable art has graced many a comics cover and a Twitter feed, but has never been interior for a comic. Instead of making Wada’s style conform to traditional comics format, we instead see a format suited for him: drawing the gods of the Pantheon in the way of a fashion shoot spread. Even Morrigan gets in on the action, which a beautifully gothic set that adds a pop of color to the None More Goth goddess. In fact, all of Wada’s pieces capture the Pantheon’s individual style in such a way that we usually don’t get to see in the regular issues. This is not as a diss to Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson, who still get to shine in this issue with their “advertisements” from Baal and Persephone, but rather highlights how strength in drawing fashion can mean different things with different artists.

The issue pushes the magazine format even more with Gillen taking on more of an “editor” role and asking several of his journalist friends to write interviews with the gods. The results are astounding, from beginning to end. Leigh Alexander’s interview with The Morrigan is especially haunting, not just for the dark imagery Alexander captures, but for how she manages to humanize The Morrigan as someone she could have known back in school. While we as the readers will remember Marian’s backstory from the ‘Commercial Suicide’ arc, this piece is presented as the first time people in the world of The Wicked + The Divine have seen press for The Morrigan. Alexander strikes that balance well, alluding to the backstory of The Morrigan without delving information that isn’t known in that universe.

My personal favorite interview though had to be Laurie Penny’s interview with Woden, titled “Sympathy for the Nice Guy.” Penny constructs the interview as an unwilling assignment, preferring to talk to a “nice” God like Amaterasu or Dionysus and getting the reviled Woden instead. I’m not certain how much of his reviled status is an allusion to his status as the most hated character in WicDiv or is a true in-universe fact, but it’s good to know everyone hates him. Penny throughout the interview tries to understand Woden at least in the way he thinks, but also doesn’t give him quarter for his actions either. Reading it was fascinating and unsettling, and I was worried that something was going to happen to Penny by the end of it. It doesn’t, but it does end with a highly ironic remark from Woden regarding the more problematic aspects of Game of Thrones. Problematic, says the sexist sociopath…


Through the interviews and notes from our “editor” Kieron, we start to get an idea what life is like for the Pantheon so soon after Ananke’s death. It’s a lot of mystery and growth, with Valhalla being abandoned for The Strand and Baal assuming de facto leadership of the Pantheon since he was the first of the gods to “ascend.” Minerva is struggling some with the death of her parents and the other gods are trying to find balance in the wake of it all. The presence of Persephone worries Woden especially, but you have to wonder how much of that is Woden and how much of that is Persephone. You also get some fun little background details of the gods, such as Amaterasu becoming a god on her birthday/the winter solstice and running to tell Lucifer while she’s in an interview with Mary HK Choi. It was an unexpected surprise to get those kind of details, to say the least.

Early reviews of this issue harkened it to Watchmen in terms of how deep it lets the story run. While I don’t know if I can make the same comparison just yet, the way that The Wicked + The Divine #23 builds the universe of the comic while letting others play in the sandbox is kind of mindblowing. Wada’s art alone justifies the existence of this issue, but the articles by real journalists writing about their interactions with these fictional characters is what makes the issue shine in those spaces between the art. If Pantheon Monthly was to return for another arc, this The Wicked + The Divine faithful would certainly not argue.

Story: Kieron Gillen, Leigh Alexander, Dorian Lynskey, Laurie Penny,
Mary HK Choi, Ezekial Kweku
Art: Kevin Wada, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson
Story: 9.0 Art: 10.0 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: American Vampire Anthology #2

American Vampire Anthology #2

Written by: Various
Cover by: Rafael Albuquerque
Illustrator Various

This special features nine amazing stories set in the world of AMERICAN VAMPIRE, with lost tales, new characters and old favorites. Series creators Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque will be joined by other amazing creators such as Kieron Gillen (The Wicked and Divine), Steve Orlando (MIDNIGHTER), Marguerite Bennett (DC COMICS BOMBSHELLS), Elliot Kalan (The Daily Show with Jon Stewart), Joëlle Jones (Lady Killer), Clay McLeod Chapman (Storage Space), and many more!


Star Wars’ Doctor Aphra Gets Her Own Ongoing Series in December

Because you demanded it! Following the blockbuster finale of Darth Vader #25, the fan-favorite character begins a new journey in Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #1 – the new ongoing series coming this December! From superstar writer Kieron Gillen and fan-favorite artist Kev Walker comes Marvel’s first ongoing series starring an original character created in the comics!

Following her time in the clutches of Darth Vader, Doctor Aphra has barely escaped with her life. If he ever learns of her survival, he’ll hunt her to the ends of the galaxy. But for now, it’s time for a return to what she does best. With the droids 0-0-0 and BT-1 in tow, she’s off in search of rare artifacts from the galactic center to the Outer Rim and everywhere in between. Aphra’s got debts to pay after all. Just as long as she can stay one step ahead of the Empire, some Bounty Hunters and just about everyone else in the galaxy!

This December, the Star Wars galaxy expands into thrilling new directions as Doctor Aphra makes her explosive solo debut.

Variant Covers by ELSA CHARRETIER (OCT160977) and JAMIE MCKELVIE (OCT160976)
Action Figure Variant by JOHN TYLER CHRISTOPHER (OCT160980)
Story Thus Far Variant by SALVADOR LARROCA (OCT160979)
Droids Variant by ROD REIS (OCT160978)
Blank Variant Also Available (OCT160981)
FOC – 11/14/16, On-Sale – 12/7/16


The Wicked + The Divine 1831: A Review Of A Single Sentence

By Maya Garcia

When the creative team behind The Wicked + The Divine announced the The Wicked + The Divine 1831 special, the classic literature diehards in the fandom rejoiced. And we rejoiced by flocking to social media to post long threads about our hopes and predictions for the issue and dashing to the library to pick up biographies, poetry collections, and campy 80s movies pertaining to the English High Romantics.

I opened 1831, fingers twitching with excitement at the thought of seeing my old friends the Romantics in a strange new way, and was delightfully thunderstruck to find among them the Romantic nearest and dearest to my own Russophilic heart – Aleksandr Pushkin. His appearance in the comic is brief and oblique, consisting in fact of a mere ten words in a speech bubble.


No unit of literature is too small to be given an in-depth analysis by a properly enthusiastic and imaginative reader. And I hope that by performing such an analysis on this single sentence (in the context of the comic up to this point) I can offer fellow fans entertaining and edifying insights into one of the myriad literary allusions in 1831.

Let’s have a go.

“Perun…” This is the name of an ancient Slavic sky god, the supreme deity in his pantheon. There are frustratingly few sources of information on the gods of the ancient Slavs as they had no known systems of writing before the 9th century C.E., when Greek Orthodox monks invented the Glagolitic and later Cyrillic alphabets to aid in bringing Christianity to the region. Much of what we know about Slavic mythology is extrapolated from visual artifacts and reports by monks. Perun is one of few figures who emerges from this tradition with a relatively clear image, that of a kingly, bearded warrior who commands stone, fire, and above all, lightning.


This image doesn’t call any 18th or 19th century Russian writers to my mind (other than maybe Tolstoy who had the long beard and patriarchal wrath thing going on, but he was just a baby in 1831 and wouldn’t be caught dead in a story about Romantic poets anyway). But why spend time wondering which Russian writer is best fit to wear the mantle of the highest god, because Russia has already chosen Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin.

There are endless fascinating cultural artifacts that one can point to illustrate the extreme degree to which Pushkin is venerated in Russia, and my personal favorite examples are: that time I was street drinking in St. Petersburg with a group of American college students and tipsily exchanged recitations of classic Pushkin verses with a couple of strangers we met outside a bar; the presence of civic artwork and/or tourist traps in every place the man ever set foot; and the fact that even the radically avant-garde Futurist poets and critics, who exhorted the Russian literary community to cast its old writers overboard from the “Steamship of Modernity,” still wrote essays and poems that praised Pushkin.

“…collapsed in Petersburg…” Ah, Petersburg! Petersburg! My favorite city for many reasons, one of which is the fact that you can’t go more than a few blocks without seeing the name or face of a dead poet. When I first saw the city in the fall of 2011, several metro stations had translations of verses by of the Romantic poet John Keats displayed in the big frames where metro stations usually hang advertisements. When I asked someone why the metro was advertising for Keats, their answer was “It’s pretty. It’s poetry.”

This is a city that may no longer be the political capital of the country, but proudly considers itself to be “The Cultural Capital of Russia.” This is the city to name drop when making a shorthand reference to Russian Romanticism. And yes, of course Pushkin died there. I’ve been to the lovingly preserved room where the tragic event occurred (a real must-see for melancholic comparative literature majors doing a year abroad in Russia).

“…pure language raging from his guts…” What a lovely turn of phrase, moving from the almost-Biblical mysticism of “pure language” to the (literally) visceral brutality of “raging from his guts.” The juxtaposition of these elements is very Russian Literature ™, but the resulting phrase is original and compelling enough to reach my ears over the din of lesser clichés one encounters daily in Slavic Studies. I can’t trace it to a quotation (though I’ve only been working it over for a couple days and I mostly work on 20th century literature anyway…), but I can see what moments in the Pushkin Mythos to which it could refer.

“…pure language…” Students of Russian literature learn to recognize the particular aspects of literature with which each canonical writer is most strongly associated – their divine domains, if you will. Dostoevsky is the Patron Saint of Unreliable Narrators; Pushkin is the All-Father of the Modern Russian Literary Language.

“…raging from his guts…” Unlike Shakespeare, Pushkin lived and died a well-documented and very public life. An incredible amount of detail concerning his day-to-day existence is available to the dedicated archival scholar and such major moments as his death are familiar to all. Pushkin’s death is such a well-known moment in Russian culture it is the subject of countless paintings and poems, and even has its very own Wikipedia page. It doesn’t get much more Romantic than dying at 37 (just a few months older than Byron) from a wound sustained in the course of a duel defending his wife’s honor against a dastardly French officer. While he did die in bed several days after the duel, the image of the poet collapsing in the snow, bleeding from his guts, is entirely true-to-life.

I think I’ve proven the connection here thoroughly enough to move on to examine the possible implications of Pushkin-Perun’s inclusion in the Wicked + Divine world. In particular, this implied character invites comparisons with a certain member of the contemporary Pantheon – Baal. Baal (the Sumerian deity) and Perun have very similar functions and imagery in their respect mythological traditions – it’s not too outlandish to posit that they, along with the other ruling sky-gods that appear in nearly every other Indo-European pantheon (i.e. Zeus, Jupiter, Indra) could perhaps be regional interpretations of the same figure.

Baal (the comic character) and Pushkin-Perun might also be regional interpretations of the same figure: the Black superhero with lightning powers. Pushkin, like Baal, was Black – well, not Black like Baal as he was Black under very different historical conditions. He was a member of the nobility whose maternal great-grandfather, Abram Hannibal, was African. Hannibal was kidnapped from Central Africa as a child and held in bondage at the court of the Ottoman Sultan for a year before being bought by Russian ambassadors and given as a gift to Tsar Peter I. Peter made Hannibal his godson and gave him a nobleman’s education and military rank. Pushkin’s relationship to his African heritage, as understood from his poems, letters, and unfinished biography of his great-grandfather, is a complex topic of interest to many scholars. I have not (yet) studied it closely, but I am familiar enough with Pushkin’s heritage that imagining him with lightning powers brings to my mind a certain racialized superhero trope.

The “Black Lightning” archetype has a long history in superhero comics, and may have been propagated by a certain laziness among white comic book creators when it comes to making new and interesting roles for characters of color. As a non-Black person, I have a limited capacity to comment insightfully on this trope, and I hope that my writing here is just the beginning of a larger conversation that will prominently feature input from Black readers. Examination of archetypes and stereotypes is one of the main forces that drives characterization in The Wicked + The Divine, and it is up to people of color in the fandom to judge how sensitive and useful this examination is. Until there’s a Latinx character in The Wicked + The Divine (a moon goddess Selena would be fantastic!), I’ll be careful to stay in my lane. The comparative reading of Baal and Pushkin that I’m attempting here will be done from a literary criticism standpoint, but I invite other fans to bring the ethical questions to bear.

The gods of the contemporary Pantheon incarnate a range of pop star archetypes and Baal is one of the more easily identifiable of the group. The “elevator pitch” one might give for Baal could be “What if Kanye West really was a god?” Of course, both Kanye and Baal have a lot more going on beneath their cosmically egoistic personae. Baal’s character arc (in my opinion, one of the most emotionally compelling in the comic) explores the cognitive dissonances of being a self-aware celebrity, of having tremendous power, but still not being able to control how others will ultimately judge you. The dynamism of Baal’s character is built on a series of seeming contradictions in his personality and positionality in the narrative: he’s “bad” and revels in the label, but he is also a proud Sky God who (for most of the narrative so far) takes Ananke’s side in the fight she frames as being one of law, order, and light against rebellion, chaos, and darkness; he performs a particularly forceful type of straight masculinity, but is involved in one of the series’ most tender queer love stories; he’s a man of action and violence, but also a genuine poet (he briefly hints at having had an artistic career before he met Ananke – and he delivers some of the best one-liners in a comic full of quotable one-liners).

Baal’s character development seems to be in the process of undermining and overcoming these ultimately artificial contradictions, with the result being a more complex and human character. In this context, Baal’s being an instantiation of the comic-book cliché linking Black men and electricity might be another way of exploring celebrity persona as self-parody.

The Wicked + The Divine’s central conceit of Recurrence allows its creators to explore characterization and archetype in a way not confined to a single, linear storyline. The first tableaux of the comic features four gods of the 1920s and judging by the iconography (Baal’s sigil is a ram’s head), one of their number is also a Baal. The man whose place at the table matches the placement of the ram’s head in the pantheon wheel is Black, and while he doesn’t bear a strong physical resemblance to Baal or comport himself as flashily as Baal does, he does exude a similar strong, masculine confidence.


Writer Kieron Gillen has said in interviews (and his notes to issue 4) that Baal is “inspired by the whole line of archetypes between Bo Diddley doing Who Do You Love? And Kanye West doing Power.” Now, Bo Diddley came too late to fit in the 1920s pantheon (and the man in the comic lacks Bo’s iconic glasses – you know the ones that Buddy Holly, Elvis Costello, and Morrissey all copied?), but if we trace the genealogy of the Blues back a few decades, there’s a wealth of iconic musicians who might provide inspiration for a Wicked + Divine character.

Robert Johnson leaps off the pages of musical history as an obvious choice for inclusion here (perhaps team WicDiv could deconstruct the rather patronizing legend about him meeting the devil at a crossroads and selling his soul for musical talent), but equally strong cases could be made for such other early blues and jazz pioneers as Jelly Roll Morton, W.C. Handy, and Lonnie Johnson. The creators may be going for a more composite character anyway (the other 1920s characters seem like they might not be as directly based on real celebrities as the 1830s characters were).

Going back one more saeculum (90-year cycle), we return to Pushkin-Perun It seems more than coincidental that we’ve been presented with another pantheon member who is a thunder god and a black male artist. Of course, one could say that he’s just a combination of the most prominent Russian Romantic with the most well-known East Slavic deity…but that would be boring. I personally would not have thought of Perun when assigning a god to Pushkin (in Russia he’s often compared to Apollo, and while I would rather not continue in the hellenocentric tradition, I would also have gravitated towards such a god of music and prophecy, or perhaps a messenger god with a mischievous streak).

But what fun would it be to read this comic if the creators thought the same way I do? I have enjoyed the chance to think about Pushkin in a different way by comparing him to the Baal archetype. To do this, I’ve considered how Pushkin (the myth if not the man) related to power.

Pushkin had a complicated relationship with authoritarian power that makes Baal’s relationship with Ananke look blissful. He was a rebellious youth who wrote politically charged poems that earned him repeated exiled from the capital in the early 1820s. He was welcomed back to Petersburg after the newly crowned Tsar Nikolai I squelched the Decembrist Uprising of 1925 (in which a large group of reform-minded officers refused to pledge allegiance to the conservative Nikolai). For the rest of his life he would be under close police surveillance and his works would be personally edited by the Tsar before publication. Despite having voiced anti-authoritarian views in the past, he would publish poems in praise of the Tsar. To what extent he was motivated by concern for safety, defeated resolution, and/or a real change in belief is unclear. Ultimately Pushkin, like Baal, had to negotiate having a fierce, iconoclastic spirit, with serving a violent, paranoid dictator who ruled by divine right.

Defiance of authority and social expectations is only one connotation of the versatile descriptor “bad” that Baal claims for himself in issue 4. It’s also a bold assertion of sexuality.


In a society where the dominant group (i.e. white men) sees black male sexuality as threatening and deviant, to be a black man who revels in his own sexual power and refuses to apologize for being beautiful and aware of it is a radical provocation.  This framework doesn’t exactly map onto Pushkin, who could almost pass for white and lived in a society where aristocratic poets such as he were expected to be sexually voracious. Pushkin had many lovers and wrote a fair number of sexually explicit poems (my favorite is the one where Satan fingerbangs the Virgin Mary and she likes it so much that her eventual holy union with God the Father ends up being a real disappointment).

And what of the connection to power as visually manifested in the command of thunder and lightning? Baal characterizes his electrical abilities with the phrase “I do power,” which suits his magnetic charisma and assertive sexuality (lightning, once thought to be the literal “spark” of life, is a time-honored symbol of virility). Pushkin too had charisma and physical charm in spades. Moreover, I think inserting lightning into his mythos amplifies his association with nature, the vast, wild Russian nature into which this Romantic (and political) exile wandered when he needed (or was forced by the tsar to take) a break from being an urban dandy.

The future issues and special issues of The Wicked + The Divine will doubtlessly reveal many more facets and complexities in the characterization of the current Baal and his predecessors. If I have inspired even one reader to help pass the time until the next issue by reading some Pushkin, I have done my duty as his loyal follower.


Maya Garcia is a recovering Romantic and current graduate student specializing in music, literature, and youth cultures of the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. Originally from Southern California, she currently resides in Somerville, MA, where the climate is much more suitable for melancholic brooding. She writes and draws things as @gothshostakovich on Tumblr and @otterhouse_5 on Twitter.

The Wicked + The Divine: Depiction of Baal in Majesty, AD 2014


Baal’s atrium in Wotan’s Valhalla features a gigantic mural of Baal dressed in an understated black suit and tie. His suit is the only thing understated about his portrait, and I love him for that. The mural is a fresco, pigment painted onto a wet plaster wall. It reaches from vaulted ceiling to floor on a Heroic scale. Baal is the central figure, positioned like a god—which of course he is—attended by archangels and cherubs. At his feet and supplicant are the devil, the Egyptian god Horus, Zeus and another angel. That bearded figure might be “God the Father” but it’s probably Zeus, a lightning god.

The arrangement of figures evokes traditional depictions of “Christ in Majesty” or “Christ in Glory,” but with some key differences. Christ in Majesty is usually seated and serine whereas Baal’s face and posture are determined, he is ready to confront world. Others have pointed out the image looks a bit like Kanye West’s video for “Power”.

Artist Jamie McKelvie renders the fresco differently from his standard bold and graphic illustrations because making this art resemble a hand-painted fresco is significant.

We never saw the full fresco within the comic as published. We only see it in issue #4 of The Wicked + The Divine, obstructed by the characters viewing it. The image above is taken from the backmatter of the trade paperback. It shows that the fresco was important enough that it was made separately from the panel and then set at an angle. It was drawn digitally by McKelvie and then colored over by Nathan Fairbairn. In issue #4, we see scaffolding for painters in front of it, indicating that the work is not yet complete.

Why does it matter that we read the fresco as a painting executed on wet plaster? Because Baal’s wall isn’t decorated by poster art, or by airbrush or any modern technique– it’s Renaissance Art. Baal is positioning himself in a European pantheon. He is showing the lineage between himself and eurocentric culture and he is dominant over it.

He is Baal Haddad, a Canaanite god but painted like this he could also be Zeus or Jesus. Or Yeezus (aka Kanye).

This powerful statement reminds me of the heroic scale paintings of Kihinde Wiley. Wiley is one of the most important contemporary visual artists. He’s an African-American artist depicting black subjects. In many of his jaw-dropping traditionally executed oil paintings he casts contemporary black men (some famous, some not) as the central figure in paintings like: “Napoleon Leading the Army Over the Alps” or “Equestrian Portrait of the Count-Duke Olivares”.


From the National Portrait Gallery’s website :

For most of Kehinde Wiley’s very successful career, he has created large, vibrant, highly patterned paintings of young African American men wearing the latest in hip hop street fashion. The theatrical poses and objects in the portraits are based on well-known images of powerful figures drawn from seventeenth- through nineteenth-century Western art. Pictorially, Wiley gives the authority of those historical sitters to his twenty-first-century subjects.

In 2005, VH1 commissioned Wiley to paint portraits of the honorees for that year’s Hip Hop Honors program. Turning his aesthetic on end, he used his trademark references to older portraits to add legitimacy to paintings of this generation’s already powerful musical talents. In Wiley’s hands, Ice T channels Napoleon, and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five take on a seventeenth-century Dutch civic guard company.

In Wiley’s own words he “posit[s] young black men, fashioned in urban attire, within the field of power reminiscent of Renaissance artists such as Tiepolo and Titian.”

While Wiley’s depictions generally cast his subjects in the position of historical figures, never religious ones, Baal’s fresco depicts him in the position of the Christian god– the most important figure in European culture. And why not?! He is a god!

We may not have seen it on the page yet, but I’m confident Baal has one of Wiley’s paintings somewhere in his room because if Baal is sort of Kanye then Wiley has already created his portrait.

Plus, Baal does have impeccable taste. As of course does this comic’s creative team Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKevlie for using expert visual strategies to show us how Baal sees his place in the world especially in relation to the eurocentric culture of the past.


I’m aware of the criticisms of his Wiley’s work, particularly from a socialist perspective. But a lot of criticism of his work is racist and homophobic. Here’s a really nice defense of him.

Review: The Wicked + The Divine 1831

tumblr_ocb81o7dst1rp6eo5o2_r1_1280So far in The Wicked + The Divine, most of what we know about past pantheons is from hearsay or little tidbits of information from those who have studied past pantheons. In fact, the pantheon in this particular issue was hinted at as far back as issue 2 when Laura went to meet with Cassandra about freeing Lucifer.

After The Wicked + The Divine 1831, we don’t have much more to go on, but there’s a bit more background about one of the past pantheons, how the celebrity of the Gods changes in each era, and maybe how Ananke manipulated the gods to meet her own goals.

The issue gorgeously illustrated by Stephanie Hans takes place mostly at Villa Diodati, the mansion by Lake Geneva where Frankenstein and The Vampyre were developed. In fact, a quick bit of research reveals that the pantheon of 1831 was completely composed of the Romantics. Never mind that many of them were already dead by 1831. It’s an alternate history though where the Romantics were given the powers of Gods by a mysterious old woman, so a little wiggle room can be made for such things.

For most of the issue, the story is narrated by Inanna, who was Claire Clairmont in this era. This is where the universalness of the story really plays, since it becomes less about the gods and their fates, but rather the interpersonal issues as the clock nears midnight on their time. In this story, there is only four left: Inanna, Lucifer, Morrigan, and Woden. There are hints of who the other gods were, but that almost doesn’t matter in this context. Writer Kieron Gillen and Hans instead weave a story about old friends and family gathering together, airing their grievances in the only way they know how: horror stories.

What’s especially interesting about this issue is that it seems like Inanna may have brokered a deal for her godhood, playing the role of the jealous sister when her sister Mary Shelley became Woden. It’s not unheard of, since it’s implied that’s how Baphomet gained his powers in the modern pantheon, but the ways in which Inanna went about it seem much bloodier. If it hasn’t occurred by now, 1831 will make you realize just how deep the world of The Wicked + The Divine really runs. Oh Kieron, what wicked things are you planning for the future of this series?

Something that Hans doesn’t get a lot of credit for with her art is how expressive it is. You see this a fair amount in 1602: Witch Hunter Angela, but it’s on full display here. Especially with Inanna and how subtly her face can change from contempt to seductive in just a matter of seconds. Mixed with the use of a more sketchy style for the flashbacks within the story that recalls back to illustrations of the era, and Hans rightly deserves all the applause for this issue.

Besides the shenanigans of the Romantics (because who else would be the celebrities of this era), this issue raises a lot of questions about what Ananke’s endgame was. Especially regarding the hand of Hades. While we’ll never know from the woman herself now, you have to wonder just how the end of this issue might come back to haunt the modern gods later.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Stephanie Hans
Story: 9.0 Art: 10 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provides Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.

Your New Look Inside 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 series comes to a close on October 12th in the blockbuster Darth Vader #25!

It has all built to this! Vader’s trials against Cylo’s creations! His machinations against the Emperor! His covert missions with Doctor Aphra and her murderous droids. It all comes to a head in this cataclysmic final chapter. Plus, this oversized issue also contains a thrilling new tale from Kieron Gillen and artist Max Fiumara. Who lives? Who dies? The answers may surprise you!

To commemorate this monumental issue, don’t miss amazing covers and variants from some of the top-flight talent in the entire comic book industry. Marvel’s 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!

DARTH VADER #25 (JUN160929)
Variant Covers by
Action Figure Variant by JOHN TYLER CHRISTOPHER (JUN160940)
Quesada Sketch Variant Also Available (JUN160934)
FOC – 09/19/16, On-Sale – 10/12/16


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

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