ROB'S NOTE: May has become the go-to month of the Comic’s Industry (even though National Superhero Day is late April, but whatever… Congress… pshaw). It is when Marvel drops their big movie of the year. May also sees the annual Free Comic Book Day celebration take place on the first Saturday of the Month, so I hope you all got to check that out. May also has 31 days of the month so what better way to celebrate the wonderful world of sequential art with the 31 Days of Comics?
Seth Hahne, who runs the blog GoodOkBad, has put together the 31 Days of Comics challenge. A daily challenge in which you are given a category and you have to fill it with a comic that you think fits it the best. You’re all on the internet, I shouldn’t have to explain it to you. For the rest of the month I will be taking this challenge. It is my hope it encourages others to make and share their own lists either in the comments here or on their own websites. The sharing not only might turn comic fans on to works they have yet to sample but maybe catch the eye of a few non-comic fans and highlight the diversity of the form.
Our prompt for Day 25 “A Comic By A Favorite Creator”
The Wicked + The Divine
Written by Kieron Gillen
Pencils and Inks by Jamie McKelvie
Letters by Clayton Cowles
Colors by Matt Wilson
There are a handful of comic creators I will always give a chance to no matter what book they are writing. Currently Matt Kindt, Matt Fraction, Johnathon Hickman, Rick Remender and Jason Aaron are near the top of that list. However there are two very specific reasons why I went in another direction with this pick. First of all, as much as I love their work on the whole, they have produced some comics that I am less than enthused about. Second, in this case I am not just going with a single creator but rather the pair of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie.
Everything that the team of Gillen and McKelvie has produced over the years has been golden. I’ve already mentioned Phonogram and Young Avengers on the list already, and I might as well add on with their current series The Wicked + The Divine. It’s a gamble going with a series that is just getting off the ground. There have been plenty of comics that have started strong only to fizzle out for various reasons. But given the track record of the two I am willing to be that it will end up being a modern masterpiece.
What Gillen and McKelvie do almost as well as anybody in the business is balance the narrative of the story with the themes they are exploring. Both of their Phonogram series (Rue Britannica and The Singles Club) as well as the Young Avengers explore concepts like pop as magic and being a fan. Despite the fact these themes are quite clear the storyline never gets weighted down by the themes. The result is a thoughtful exploration of concepts and ideas perfectly folded into compelling and exciting stories.
The Wicked + The Divine is another example of this ability. It exists simultaneously as a thrilling mystery driven by engaging characters as well as a study of the concept of celebrity in the modern age. The basic conceit of the book is that every 90 years a group of 12 gods, known as “The Pantheon”, merges their spirits with normal human beings. While those humans are gifted with extraordinary powers the cost is high because in two years they will all be dead. Knowing you aren’t long for the world, there is no reason for self-improvement or for setting long-term goals, so they essentially become celebrities with an expiration date.
Meanwhile we see most of the series through the point of view of a young woman named Laura, who is the aspirational fan who dreams of becoming a god like her idols. Her counter point, a blogger named Cassandra, gives us the cynical view of celebrity that is more interested in taking them down rather than examining them. Laura’s maturation and interaction with the members of the Pantheon is a definite high point of the series.
Jaime McKelvie’s art along with the coloring of Matt Wilson elevate the overall experience. McKelvie’s biggest strength, of many, is that even with a book that is dealing with complex ideas and experimental layouts he brings clarity. You are never confused about what is occurring on the page or the panel progressions. Meanwhile Matt Wilson might be the first colorist I’ve ever really paid attention to when reading a book. The color palate and choices emphasizes the magical quality of the gods.
I won’t go into the details of the plot as it is one thing to spoil a 30 year old comic and another to spoil one currently on the stands. Suffice to say it is near the top of my pull list, my choice for best comic of 2014, and along with the current Cassanova series in the running for best of 2015.
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