What kind of teenager are you that you don’t have Class A drugs to hand? Hmm? Has The Daily Mail been lying to me?
Every 90 years twelve gods from multiple pantheons are reincarnated in young people to live for two years. The gods reincarnated are different each time and don’t necessarily live out the full two years, as the opening pages can attest with only four gods left at the end of the last cycle in 1923, skulls perched in the empty seats. Ananke is their guardian, goddess of fate, necessity and destiny. She’s their protector, but also their judge, jury and, if necessary, their executioner.
Wicked and divine these characters are not. Irritating, confusing, frustrating – definitely. Intriguing personalities are few and far between despite the range of sexualities, people of colour and genders (e.g. trans, goddesses reincarnated in male form and vice versa). Lucifer, or Luci to her friends, was witty and sarcastic and the only character of interest. I loved it when she took out the snipers. That was awesome. Annie Lennox is famous for her androgenous style with white blonde hair and matching white suit and I’m guessing Lucifer’s look is based on her. Seeing Luci’s downfall kind of kills any enthusiasm to read the next volume. However, the cliffhanger implies drama queen Laura is Tara, or somehow connected to Luci. This might prove entertaining, though I doubt it.
The Wicked + The Divine is certainly culturally apt. Now is the perfect time to be reincarnated if worship is required for the gods to feed. Celebrity culture is in its prime. Live fast, die young rockstars. Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. (It’s odd and kind of icky that they can induce orgasms en masse – I wouldn’t want to be on clean-up duty after one of their concerts.) But in an age of technology Ananke’s lethal punishment is understandable. PR is everything. None of the gods can be seen to be too powerful, dangerous or out of control. Posing a possible threat to humans would incite war and fans would immediately disappear, leaving the gods vulnerable. However, to conform to a watered down version of their real selves is contrary to their nature, but necessary for survival.
Together with their short lifespan, I can understand why not all of the gods are happy. They have no purpose in their lives other than to entertain humans. A hollow existence. With their abilities you’d think governments and media groups the world over would be tripping over themselves to hire them. The devil makes work for idle hands -no wait, the devil’s dead. Never mind.
Antonia Thomas as Alisha in Misfits
I appreciated the British setting in culturally diverse London, the mixed race (like me) protagonist Laura who reminded me of Misfits’ Antonia Thomas, the mythological figures and of course the vibrant illustrations.
But I’m not sure why Rihanna gets to be a god in the form of Sakhmet (Egyptian mythology, warrior goddess depicted as a lioness).
Baal reminds me of a self-obsessed Puff Daddy, or whatever he calls himself these days.
Woden’s fashion sense is Tron-inspired. (Norse mythology – also known as Odin.)
Baphomet is the dark-haired, shirtless rebel in a leather jacket and sunglasses.
Minerva is a 12-year-old female Elton John lookalike. (Roman mythology, virgin goddess of art, craft, wisdom and magic.)
A scene that utterly confounded me was the introduction of Baphomet and the various personas of Celtic goddess queen of death The Morrigan – Gentle Annie (bald), BadB (red-haired) and the black-haired default. They had an extremely cringe-worthy argument for no apparent reason.
The Wicked + The Divine will soon be adapted for TV by Universal Television, although I’m not sure this is wise when the graphic novel series is still in its infancy with not much material to be starting with. The graphic novels may well become novelizations of the show. As it’s not being made by HBO, I won’t be surprised if the language and sexual aspects are sanitized, though I hope the demographic diversity remains.
As The Faust Act is the first volume and as yet hasn’t finished it’s introductions of all the gods, I should probably give the series another chance so I’ve reserved the second volume at the library. Hopefully the mystery of who framed Luci will be solved and maybe the gods will become a bit more compelling because right now they’re the opposite.
Women Write About Comics have some quality articles discussing The Wicked + The Divine and TV Tropes has a page dedicated to it. On the Wic+Div tumblr there’s an explanation of the god symbols, but beware there are spoilers on this page.