In The Wicked + the Divine #2, Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie get down to business and start to explore the ideas of divinities as pop stars through the lens of their biggest fan Laura, the protagonist of the series and their biggest detractor, the aptly named Cassandra, a reporter and former comparative mythology student. Through Laura’s voice-over captions, Gillen draws some interesting parallels between celebrity and deity worship. McKelvie continues to be the master of comics layouts handling the more intimate “talking heads” scenes between Luci and Laura as well as Luci’s fiery two page spread origins with equal aplomb. The aforementioned captions add extra meat to the quieter scenes, like Laura walking to Luci’s prison. The Wicked + the Divine #2 takes its time with the series’ master plot, but it continues to add depth to its world and characters, especially in a scene showing Luci’s “origin”. The Wicked + the Divine #2 builds off the success of the last issue with its beautifully rendered art and colors, a little character development, and a dastardly last page plot twist.
The best parts of The Wicked + the Divine #2 weren’t the displays of god-like powers, but Laura’s conversations with Luci and Cassandra about their relationship with the various divinities and the concept of godhood. Gillen evokes Neil Gaiman’s writing in the “Brief Lives” arc where the Babylonian goddess Ishtar’s strip-teases causes her “worshipers” to die of heart attack, but he elaborates on this by expanding this idea of gods as entertainers to a whole pantheon of gods ranging from the rage-filled (and still beloved of Laura) Baal and blonde groupie having Wodan to the mysterious Morrigan,who plays a big role in the plot of The Wicked + the Divine #2. And the world-building and ideas brought up by the characters of The Wicked + the Divine give the plot some real steam behind it. The murdered god mystery has been used in mainstream comics before in series like Final Crisis and Jason Aaron’s Thor, God of Thunder, but The Wicked + the Divine is different from these because the gods of The Wicked + the Divine are fickle and not necessarily beneficial figures. (Thor has had his share of hubris, but for the most part, he ends up on the side of the angels that aren’t fallen.) The untrustworthy nature of these divine beings gives The Wicked + the Divine #2 a sense of tension in the background that McKelvie’s art portrays when his bright and clear line art becomes shadowy as the book continues.
This tension also comes to play in the conversation between Cassandra and Laura as they investigate the dead god. Cassandra’s background as a former comparative mythology student is a nice touch from Gillen and allows readers to learn about the background of the different deities without blocks of text and exposition. Jamie McKelvie’s art also points out the differences between Laura and the characters around her. For example, Laura usually has an earnest, attentive expression on her face, especially when dealing with anything having to do with the gods and their music. Luci, on the other the hand, plays up the “Prince of Darkness” angle of Lucifer, and McKelvie relishes in drawing her range of personalities. Colorist Matthew Wilson gives her piercing blue eyes that go with this personality trait. The Wicked + the Divine #2 shows off McKelvie’s skill at creating inventive layouts as well as his ability to convey character’s personalities through little things like body language and subtle details, like Laura’s cracked iPhone. The Wicked + the Divine reaches new heights in its second installment and continues to be one of the most thought provoking and poignant comics as it continues to darkly weave celebrity culture and ancient mythology in a twisted web that would make Arachne or Anansi smile.