‘The Wicked + The Divine: Volume 5’ - Trade Paperback Review

The gods are alive with the sound of music. Ancient gods return to the world every ninety years. They have a two-year run – meaning, they have powers and the ability to do a lot of damage - but in the end, they’re human. After these two years, some of which are surrounded by a rave of people dancing to beats, their lives come to an end. Do they have a larger role in the grand scheme of things? Is a short window of time only meant to absorb as much love and anger as humanly possible, or is there a coming darkness they’re supposed to stop, while they have time?

Image Comics writer Kieron Gillen and artist Jamie McKelvie bring their fans, and those in need of a jumping-on point, Issues #23 through #28 of The Wicked + The Divine. The story follows the present-day gods as they continue to evolve the understanding of their limited span of years, and tackle the basic concepts of feeling something as simple as a spiritual connection or physical lust. The opening provides a brief synopsis, detailing the death of one of their own, and bios of the gods to understand how everyone is interconnected. The first chapter of this trade paperback is unique, allowing readers the opportunity to grasp the gravity of what’s taken place so far.

In Issue #23, Gillen creates a series of interviews where the characters, the gods themselves, are asked about their existences. This is an interesting, engaging approach to craft a story, while allowing any reader a wealth of information from those gods that are interviewed. Along with a collection of photo shoots for each of the interviewees, crafty interviews are constructed, gaining incredible insight into the mindset of each mighty soon-to-be dead – each voice is guided with a different tone and vantage point of the surrounding world. Volume 5 also introduces new, soon-to-be fans with its artwork, and a scene in Issue #24 perfectly captures the amazing details seen throughout.

McKelvie creates intricately drawn characters - wonderfully designed hair and clothing, along with subtle features like freckles - making these pages comes alive. Colorist Matthew Wilson adds to the Divine style with an incredible mixture of colors, elevating the larger-than-life scene of fireworks and the two gods sitting on the ledge of a gigantic tower, escaping reality. After learning about some of the characters through interviews, this first visual scene in standard comic book panel-to-panel form allows you to understand some of the gods more pointedly. You witness two individuals on the edge of a high-rise: one watching fireworks and the other joining with the intention of flirting and admittedly indulging her drunken behavior. Watching the scene play out captures this fantasy world of gods behaving like humans, and the emotional roller coaster bound to take place as you flip through the pages.

As the story unfolds, these gods must face the simple fact of being misled by one of their own and trying to figure out what holds any meaning. They also face a growing evil that strikes out at them, without warning, and the ensuing battles showcase the type of powers within each god. Blindingly bright beams of light help to emphasize their immortal strengths. Snarky, secretive behavior reveals the divisiveness among the group. Will they be able to work together to defend against the looming threat? Are they truly meant to die after two years?

The Wicked +The Divine: Volume 5 - Imperial Phase, Part 1 is now available in print and digital form.

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