REVIEW: The Wicked + The Divine: Fandemonium

I mentioned in my review of The Wicked + The Divine volume 1 that it’s been a long time since I’ve read “real” comics, but with this review I want to mention that I haven’t screamed over a comic since 2013-ish. And boy did I scream over the ending of this one.

In my last review, I mentioned the American Gods vibe of the first five issues, well combine that vibe with the death count of Game of Thrones and you’ve got what volume 2 is all about. Of course, what differentiates this from what I’m referencing is the inclusion of so much diversity in race, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

From what I’ve gotten so far from the way the characters – especially the gods – present themselves, no one is straight. Like, no one. Not only that but the trans character, Cassandra, is always referred to with female pronouns and terms. It may be a story of death, grief, and violence, but the inclusion and respect is truly wonderful.

This is an incredible story, an incredibly series, and I’m already devastated by the end of this second volume. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into volume 3 and continue to suffer.

Conclusion ★★★★★


24666002

Authors:  Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, and Clayton Cowles
Published:  July 1, 2015
Pages: 168
Publisher: Image Comics
ISBN: 9781632153272

Synopsis: The second volume of the award-winning urban fantasy series where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. Following the tragic and unjust death of Lucifer, it takes a revelation from Inanna to draw Laura back into the worlds of Gods and Superstardom to try and discover the truth behind a conspiracy to subvert divinity. Includes issues 6-11 of the series, plus supplementary material.

 

REVIEW: The Wicked + The Divine: The Faust Act

It’s been a hell of a long time since I’ve read comics, but I’ve been needing more fast, fun things to read lately and figured I’d get caught up on the good stuff. Starting off this graphic-novel binge, I chose The Wicked + The Divine from one of my favourite authors, Kieron Gillen (who’s Journey Into Mystery run gave me life).

The Story

The plot of The Wicked + The Divine is that every 90 years, a pantheon of gods assume the form of regular people who will die within two years of gaining their forms. There are non-believers of course, but for the most part the youth of the times idolize these gods in a similar way as celebrities are adored by society now. But there have been several gruesome murders, and Luci (Lucifer) is being held accountable despite insisting innocence. Her biggest fan, Laura, is now responsible for finding the true murderer and freeing her friend and idol before all hell breaks loose.

It gave me strong American Gods vibes with the flashy colours of something out of the 80s (although it’s set in modern times) and I loved every page.

The Characters

Being a comic series of less than 150 pages in this volume, there’s still a lot to learn about the several main characters – that I’m hoping to get out of volume 2. To keep it simple, I’ll just talk about Laura specifically and then the gods as a whole.

Laura is kind of hypnotic as she narrates her life. She’s lonely and just wants to be a part of something special, something important, something bigger than herself. She wants to mean something. It’s a really relatable feeling and her passion is fierce as she defends Lucifer.

The gods themselves are intriguing. It makes me want to read up on more mythology as they aren’t from a single culture. Sure, we have Lucifer of the Catholic faith, but we also have Baal, The Morrigan, Sakhmet, and even Minerva. It’s a curious combination and I’m really looking forward to learning more about all of them and how this reincarnation thing works.

The Issues

None. None at all.

Conclusion ★★★★★

I loved this. It was a lot of fun and the writing leaves enough holes in the story to make you want to continue reading, while still giving you enough information to keep from being confused. I am majorly surprised there’s been no talk of a TV series out of this one and would die to see it (even more so if Evan Rachel Wood played Luci – the two of them are identical). I’m already starting volume 2 and look forward to seeing where this series is going to go.


23093359

Authors:  Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, and Clayton Cowles
Published:  November 12, 2014
Pages: 144
Publisher: Image Comics
ISBN: 9781632150196

Synopsis: Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. The team behind critical tongue-attractors like Young Avengers and PHONOGRAM reunite to create a world where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever.

 

REVIEW: Wonderblood

I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review


Wonderblood is a unique novel of three interwoven narratives, full of magic, mystery, and violence. Written in gorgeous prose, Julia Whicker’s debut novel is winding and strange and wonderful. Note that this book does contain some triggering content around a character who is a minor, including sexual assault, gaslighting, physical abuse, and Stockholm syndrome.

The Story

Hundreds of years in the future, America has become overrun by a Mad Cow-like disease called Bent Head, pushing society back into living conditions similar to the Dark Ages of Medieval times. The story follows a girl held captive by her abusive brother in his carnival only to then be held captive by a man claiming to be the True King, the current king’s astronomer, and a Hierophant struggling with his faith.

I found this story fascinating as, according to this world, a dystopia has once again lead to an archaic form of patriarchy. One would think that “the future” is always spaceships and technology, even if it is a little dated, but in this world, all knowledge of science has been long forgotten and even practicing medicine is outlawed and considered heretical. Even the magic of the world is complex and Whicker does a brilliant job of winding coincidence with the examples of magic, making to so it’s hard to tell if magic really does exist within this world of if it’s all merely happenstance.

 

The Characters

The characters of this story are hard to get into since this is a narrative entirely driven by character motivation. I don’t want to give spoilers, so instead I’ll give a sum-up.

If I’m being honest, I didn’t like any of the characters in this story, but all for incredibly different reasons. Some of the characters are not meant to be liked – such as Orchid, an angry woman who wants to be queen and who reminds me very much of Cersei Lannister – but I also had a hard time feeling sorry for the characters who were meant to be liked because they did very little to escape their predicaments.

Now, even though I didn’t like the characters, that wasn’t enough to make me stop reading and please don’t let this discourage you from picking up this book, because – believe me – it’s worth reading.

 

The Issues [ spoilers / trigger warning ]

 

Now, my issues with this book are minimal, but I do hope that Whicker writes a sequel to fix these problems. The only big issue that comes to mind is the open ending and the loose ends. Will we learn the girl’s name? What will happen to her and Orchid? Will Tygo learn that he has a little sister? Will David figure out that he should be in Kansas and not Cape Canaveral? So many questions come up at the end of this book that I am honestly praying that there is more coming.

Next up, let’s get into the triggers. This book contains implied incestual sexual assault, attempted sexual assault, gaslighting, physical abuse (branding), and Stockholm syndrome all to the same 15-year-old character.

It is heavily implied that the girl’s brother has been raping her since she joined his carnival and then her husband turns around and attempts to rape her as well. Not only that, but she has been branded twice – once by both men – in a claiming ritual of sorts. She is heavily gaslighted by David and often verbally abused by his first wife, Orchid. Despite all of this, she is convinced that David loves her and through this grows to love him back.

What bothers me more than anything about all of this, is that is all happens to the girl. The 15-year-old girl. Of course it doesn’t happen all at once and the majority of these moments are quick to skim through, but the context of it all made me uncomfortable.

Conclusion ★★★★

This novel has it’s problems, but if anyone reading this review has knowledge of Game of Thrones, it’s nothing people haven’t seen/read before (although that doesn’t make it okay). Having read this book right after going to see the film Annihilation (based on the Area X series by Jeff VanderMeer), it was just what I was looking for. It kept me incredibly entertained and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a sequel to this one. This isn’t a book for everyone, but if you’re looking for something weird and unique, I recommend this book wholeheartedly. Julia Whicker is definitely an author I will be keeping my eye on.


34964829

Author: Julia Whicker
Published:  April 3, 2018
Pages: 304
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
ISBN: 9781250066060

Synopsis: A mad cow-like disease called “Bent Head” has killed off millions. Those who remain worship the ruins of NASA’s space shuttles, and Cape Canaveral is their Mecca. Medicine and science have been rejected in favor of magic, prophecy, and blood sacrifice.

When traveling marauders led by the bloodthirsty Mr. Capulatio invade her camp, a young girl named Aurora is taken captive as his bride and forced to join his band on their journey to Cape Canaveral. As war nears, she must decide if she is willing to become her captor’s queen. But then other queens emerge, some grotesque and others aggrieved, and not all are pleased with the girl’s ascent. Politics and survival are at the centre of this ravishing novel.