If there is one word to describe The Wicked + the Divine #6 (WicDiv from now on) it would be: somber. The book begins in dreary Brockley, South London, and Matthew Wilson’s bright, gaudy palette has been muted except for the slight shimmer of Laura’s Inanna t-shirt. WicDiv #6 starts to explore Laura’s character in depth while also introducing readers to the never before seen (and cover subject) Inanna. Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie show Laura struggling to activate her powers bestowed by Luci while also digging into why she is such an obsessed fan of the god-like pop stars. WicDiv #6 is truly Gillen and McKelvie’s love letter to fandom of all sorts from the hilariously tacky “Lucifer died for our sins” shirts to another diagram spread of Laura’s messy fangirl infused bedroom, which functions as a more intimate version of McKelvie’s two page diagram spread in Young Avengers #4.
WicDiv #6 is a much more personal comic than its preceding issue, like a small club gig versus the stadium spectacle that was WicDiv #5. Gillen and McKelvie do some character-driven storytelling and draw an intricate a three way parallel between Laura, Inanna, and the deceased Luci. The commonalities between Inanna and Laura’s backgrounds draws her back into the world of gods and pop stars with a couple big plot moments towards the end of the issue as Matthew Wilson returns to his shimmering coloring ways and McKelvie outdoes himself with his design for Inanna’s outfit(s).
Gillen captures the voice of the fan, who desperately wants to be a creator, in Laura. She has met her heroes and had them bleed on her, but still has yet to capitalize on these moments for a variety of reasons. Gillen and McKelvie follow the “show, don’t tell” rule with Laura’s bedroom, whose existence shows how much the gods mean to her. It is also an authentic portrayal of what is a fan can look like with her Amateratsu and Baal prints paralleling the large Greg Capullo Batman and Buffy the Vampire Slayer posters I have in my own room. Gillen’s writing provides a little snarky, meta commentary on the proceedings, like Laura’s floor being cleaner than usual or the possible real life inspirations for WicDiv‘s gods.
In almost every issue of WicDiv, Jamie McKelvie uses a different artistic technique to capture something about the issues’s them. In WicDiv #6, he utilizes a lot of white space, especially in the scenes where Laura is at home, and her mom is trying to help her cope with the violent, insane events of the past month. (Gillen’s portrayal of Laura’s parents is quite sympathetic, and one of the unsung, great things about WicDiv.) This white space as Laura comes to terms with her new, not quite functioning powers shows the “miraculous despair” and emptiness she is feeling after Luci’s death and also strips away all the trappings of her life (which has mostly been reactions to the gods) letting readers focus on Laura, the person.
And WicDiv #6 is all about feeling sympathy for Laura even if the people she wants to become are beyond problematic. The pacing of the plot is a little on the slow side, but Gillen and McKelvie manage to set up a new status quo between Laura and the gods by the end of the issue. McKelvie continues to be the master of the character defining facial expression, like Laura smiling a little bit about the Inanna shirt she is wearing when some rabid Luci fans confront her at the beginning of the issue. His well-defined art and strong design sense along with Wilson’s sadder than usual colors, and Gillen’s honest, occasionally funny writing and background world-building makes WicDiv #6 another great issue in what possibly the best comics series of 2014.