Keiron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s The Wicked + The Divine has been a massive hit throughout the twenty-two-issue run of the series thus far, and the story of the Gods that come back to life every ninety years has been some of the best in creative storytelling I’ve seen in a long time. With the book now on a break to get back to the normal release schedule, Gillen has teamed with artist Stephanie Hans to tell a new tale about these beloved characters during another time in their long and storied lives.
Set in 1831, it tells of a group of poets during a life-changing night on Lake Geneva. The remaining Gods, in all of their wealth and splendor, go on a journey that will change how they view the world, and perhaps the others that will share their lives in the centuries to come.
This is a strange issue, especially given that the setting is so far removed from the modern environment that the series has taken place in thus far. While set nearly two decades after the summer of 1816 where poets and writers such as Mary Shelley and Lord Byron imagined some of their most creative works, the similarities (location included) are obvious. This is a tale of the romantics in a time where their love of good company and a good time were at their highest, and the Gods, for all of their two years in this world, seemed to be intent on making the most of it.
I love this series, and while this was a great issue in terms of production, it felt a bit out of place. It looks gorgeous, as artist Stephanie Hans worked absolute magic in her portrayal of the period; however, it was such a departure in both content and presentation that it was a bit hard to get into. Perhaps it was the tonal shift, or the lexicon, but something seemed missing. An energy that comes into every issue of the series that felt left out, whether intentional or not. It felt somber, distant, and little like the fast-paced and snarky Wic/Div that attracted me to the series.
Since this is a one-shot, however, I will say that I respect and enjoy what was given to us here. Gillen and Hans did something different, telling a new, complete story in this single issue, completing a beautiful and haunting circle of life and death, something this series has come to be known for.
It may have lacked some of the things that I grew to love about the series, but this is an interesting take on the background of what we’ve come to know in the modern day. Stephanie Hans really took the issue by storm, however. Her work was gorgeous. For fans of the series, it’s a must read, certainly.