The Wicked + The Divine is one of the best graphic novels I have ever read. And I read a lot of them. All of the elements come together to create a unique story that is exciting, inventive and fresh, all while being rooted in centuries-old traditions.
And it's not even about superheroes.
Well, kind of. While the characters are not superheroes, per se, they are gods. The main plot of the story is that every 90 years, 12 deities from various religious pantheons are reincarnated. They only live for two years and then they die, only to repeat the cycle over in another 90 years' time.
The story is set in 2014 in South London and is told through the eyes of Laura, a regular girl who is obsessed with these deities and wants to know everything about them. And she isn't the only one. The Pantheon is seen as rock stars, performing to hundreds of thousands of young people in the form of raves and concert-like performances.
What makes this story so amazing and innovative is that The Pantheon does not follow any one particular religion. So you have characters like Lucifer (she prefers Luci) existing alongside Sakhmet from Egyptian mythology and Amaterasu, a Japanese Shinto deity.
Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, the writer and artist respectively, prove once again the genius of their comic collaboration. While this series is very different from their content produced for Marvel (most recently they worked together on the 2013 Young Avengers run) they manage to provide an interesting story with so many interesting characters. Gillen's dialogue is the right blend of proper and arrogant suitable for young adults who are deities and McKelvie's color palette makes sure that the book never takes itself too seriously. While there is some violence in the story (two people get their heads exploded) it is offset by bright colors and bold inks.
Everyone should read this series. Seriously. It is a testament to the fact that comics are ever-evolving and can be fresh and exciting. There are currently 3 trades in this series, with issaue #17 being released later in April. I can't wait to catch up so I can start buying the issues as they come out. I'm sure I'll be talking more about this series later because it is truly amazing.