Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie's love and admiration of music is well documented. Hell, both came to the audiences awareness through a comic about the very magic of music in Phonogram. And The Wicked + The Divine, their latest masterpiece theatre of a series, is literally about popstars as gods.
This latest issue perhaps illustrates this fascination of capturing the spirit of music on the static page more than ever, as well as really helping define more strongly just what exactly the comics Imperial Phase is all about exactly.
Framed with two slower, more linearly structured scenes that continue to show the threat of the Great Darkness, the inherent mystery over if Ananke lied about the gods' limited time on Earth, and the subtler mystery of just what exactly has provoked the Great Darkness to become much more openly confrontational and aggressive – and a scene that really nails down definitively the idea of the Imperial Phase and the allegory between gods and popstars. This latter, final scene holds some excellent, thought provoking dialogue…no, really more monologue, that beautifully illustrates the metaphor as context over subtext. It's layered, and the levels smack you with their inherent obviousness so hard it makes the reader wonder how, just how, had we missed these layers exactly? I won't spoil it here. There'll undoubtedly be much discussion of it among the tumblr fan communities and the breakdown of the issue by Gillen himself, and I wouldn't want to ruin the fun of that.
Needless to say, these book-ending segments are incredibly dramatically paced and laid out, and highlight the metaphors of popstars and superheroes and popstars and gods amazingly. But it's the middle that holds even more of the fun.
Like a great song with brilliant poetic verses, but goddamn, THAT chorus!
The central part of the comic, featuring nearly all the remaining gods, is fast paced, almost anarchic in it's energy, and presented with a wild vibrancy thanks to the colours by Matthew Wilson, working wonderfully with the talented and by now masterfully dramatic art of McKelvie, that you miss the structure…but not in a bad way. Because the structure is there, wonderfully simple in it's construction and yet amazingly new and thumping, with a buoyancy, a kind of rising thrum, that gives us exposition and character development in the form of a wild dance on the page.
The structure, layout, colours all work together to create the sensation in the readers head almost of the very thing they're reading about – a wild rave. We see so much, we do so much, and we're maybe not immediately aware. It seems simple, too simple, but it draws us in and twirls us around, and we come out the other end with a head awhirl with the party in front of us. We think we know what will happen next. We don't. It'll surprise us.
The Wicked + The Divine #27 shows us the future of the series and we have no idea what it is…but we can't wait to find out.