After disappearing for a bit, Kieron Gillen’s hipster/pop idol filled series has returned.
Last time, the series ended with quite the shocker of an ending and really took everyone off guard by that. With such a surprise and also actual plot development, these aspects seem like they gave the book the right kick in the rear to finally get going. But did it do that? Let’s find out with the newest issue. Is it good?
The Wicked + The Divine #6 (Image Comics)
It’s been one month since Lucifer’s head went kablooie all over Laura. Life… kind of goes on with not much happening. Then one day, Laura gets a very sparkly letter in the mail and meets with someone. Someone in very gaudy and sparkly clothing.
So in other words, you applaud the woman with the power to blow people’s heads off and her vigilantism and show no concern over the fact that other people have these powers…. Okie-dokie then.
So, how was the start of this new story arc? Well… it starts with more of a slow whimper rather than a bang. The first half of the comic recaps and catches us up on where Laura currently is after watching her pop idol suffer the fate of a person in the movie Scanners — namely how she is/isn’t dealing with her problems. To the credit of the comic, this is the first time in the series where Laura feels like a real person with real human emotions and depth. The way Laura feels conflicted and completely out of it feels very natural for a person who has recently suffered a loss. It’s a gigantic step in the right direction for this character after she came across as the ultimate, grating clichéd fangirl/hipster in the first arc.
The second half of the issue deals with her meeting with a new pop god idol and what he wants to talk to her about. It’s not badly handled; the idol’s dialogue can be overly flowery/too descriptive to the point that it sounds silly, though he does deliver some interesting revelations about the main story (again, hooray for plot development). All of these parts give The Wicked + The Divine a much needed step up and help improve a lot of the issues that the comic had with its story and central character. There are still problems with the story progression and how people react to things, like the under reaction from the government I joked about in the above picture or how Laura deals and reacts to certain things as well. These points often make the story goofier and more worthy of snarkbait than it should be.
You got all of that from two words? Gees, you really need a boyfriend or real human interaction ma’am.
One aspect of The Wicked + The Divine that feels much more toned down in this issue compared to others is the hipsterism and modernism. You know, all the talk about trendy things, social media, characters talking like hipster and tween stereotypes, and the contrived attempts at trying to seem cool and hip. While that aspect is there in the book and is still eye roll-inducing, it’s not as in your face as and relevant as it was in the first arc. That’s appreciated, because here’s the thing: the angle worked a lot of better in a recent issue of Batgirl because the writers were playing it up more for laughs with how over the top, goofy, and flashy everything was (I mean, all the villains were essentially exaggerated character types of hipster culture in some ways). In this series, it used the elements in a far more serious manner and felt it was trying to force the characters into a more relateable light, which didn’t work and couldn’t be taken as seriously. Maybe the next issue will brings these elements back more to the forefront, but now, it was nice that it wasn’t all that strong.
On the writing side of things, the book remains okay. Going back to the pacing of the book, it is very slow going from start to finish. Not much happens at all in the first half, while the second is only a tad bit better (though it’s mostly just exposition and establishing a new character with a few plot developments). It kind of hurts the momentum that was built up in the last issue, especially after such a shocking and intense finale. The dialogue and narration is better… to a certain extent. When Laura is narrating about how she feels about everything, that feels very believable and natural — however, when the comic tries to be hip or get all colorful, the dialogue nose dives and becomes goofy and laughable. The structure and flow of the comic are pretty much fine from start to finish, with no poor transitions between the scenes. Then there is the ending and it feels… lackluster. It’s not particularly exciting and doesn’t leave much of an impression.
Look, the girl just puked in a dumpster. I’m pretty sure she’s not in the mood for conversation.
The artwork by Jamie McKelvie is fine. The layouts work and the coloring get the job done — though what felt like a step back in the artwork department was the actual facial expressions of the characters. While most of the expressions look fine like they usually do, there is a couple of lackluster and dull looks on people’s faces throughout when a character should supposedly look like they are feeling something (like the last panel of the entire book, the character looks completely stoned out of her mind!). It kind of interferes at points with the narrative honestly with it being unable to convey the proper mood or emotion at points. Other than that, the artwork is fine, but there’s not much to say about it otherwise.
Is It Good?
The Wicked + The Divine #6 was an alright way to start the new arc. There were some notable improvements, like giving the main character actual depth and throwing in some intriguing developments in the main story, but there were still aspects that held it back. The pacing was rather slow, the whole hip music angle of the book is still on the weak side, and there are some other problems throughout. This comic is still a few steps away from deserving all of its critical praise, but it at least feels like it’s getting on the right track now.