‘The Wicked + the Divine #36:’ Advance Comic Book Review

This book is hard to describe. While the general premise (Gods return for 2 year, then die, only to be reborn again.) isn't so tough to explain, when issues like this one come along, where reading it becomes a tale of two halves, it complicates things a bit, especially as the true narrative of the book begins to unravel, with the Great Darkness approaching and everything flying full steam into the endgame.

Let's start with the tale of two halves, as this issue puts a major focus onto the condensed tale of Ananke and the things she must do to attempt to prevent the Great Darkness from destroying everything. As the years go by, we see time move at a record pace, getting a glimpse into everything she does to get things together, and to break them apart in preparation for her rituals.

The second half of the book focuses on Baal and his fight as a leader against the Great Darkness, unlocking his own secrets and the true strength of his abilities. It's an interesting take on formatting a story, bringing in so much research and flair to a story that already has it in abundance.

In the column of this issue, writer Kieron Gillen talks about the difficulty of bringing in so much research and dedicating so much time to the first half of this issue, as the trip down memory lane is an involved one, both for the sake of storytelling and historical accuracy. It shows, as each panel is framed in a different time period, all of it looking as though the creative team took it upon themselves to make sure each small detail was as accurate as possible. It also shows an underrated skill in making comics, which is telling a story mostly through pictures. The first half of the issue has very little in terms of dialogue, and without the characters speaking, the images have to do all of the heavy lifting and really bring home the message, something that this issue did very well. It's not often that a writer takes an opportunity to do this at this scale, and it is done incredibly well here.

That being said, it wouldn't be possible to do creative storytelling this way without Gillen's partner and creative mastermind, Jamie McKelvie. His work has always been fantastic, and here with colorist Matt Wilson this continues. Not only is it bright, colorful, and beautifully drawn, but McKelvie helps to form a coherent narrative through images in a way that is really refreshing to see. Without giving away more than I already have, it's fascinating to read the first half of the issue and see what is really being said without it being spoken aloud.

This book is as brilliant as it is frustrating. It's brilliance is obvious, with the frustration coming from attempting to explain said brilliance without directly revealing the story.  As always, this creative team does an incredible job bringing this story to life, and with so much coming at us so fast, its a testament to this series and these creators that they can take a step back like this and still bring so much forward to the story.

Creative Team:  Kieron Gillen (writer), Jamie McKelvie (artist)
Publisher:  Image Comics
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