The mark of a great pop song is not just that it's a pleasure to hear and hear again, but that it rewards struggling with it. Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie have been conflating pop music and comics since they first collaborated on Phonogram ten years ago; Gillen's described the central conceit of their new series The Wicked + The Divine as "gods as pop stars, and pop stars as gods." That's a good way of describing the story itself -- but the comic is also about presenting Gillen and McKelvie as pop stars, and as pop mechanics. It's the product of a decade spent working out what makes comics click, and how to make them speak to a mass audience.
I've been fortunate enough to read the first two issues of The Wicked + The Divine; they're marvelous, a little bit maddening, and thoroughly worth wrestling with.
I don't know if it's even really necessary to tell anyone that they should be reading Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky's Sex Criminals, but on the off chance that you've been sleeping on the story of two bank robbers with hearts of gold and time-stopping orgasms, you really oughtta get on that, and this week is a pretty good time to get to it. With Sex Criminals #6, Fraction and Zdarsky are kicking off their second story arc with the return of Jon and Susie. Or at least, the return of most of Jon and Susie. See, there's a piece missing, and one assumes that this is going to cause all kinds of problems over the next few issues.
The creative team of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie first made their mark with the 2006 Image Comics release Phonogram: Rue Britannia, a thrilling and thoughtful story about magic, music, modern sorcery, and how the records we listen to affect our lives and identities. The series combined cultural touchstones and urban fantasy trappings in a way that captured the imagination of critics and readers, and its success ultimately led to Gillen and McKelvie becoming separately and together some of comics' most fan-favorite creators on books like Journey Into Mystery, X-Men Season One, Suburban Glamour, a second series of Phonogram, and their rmuch-lauded collaboration on the recently concluded reinvention of Young Avengers.
This week, they're releasing the debut issue of their latest (and most ambitious) project: The Wicked + The Divine, an ongoing series from Image that blends together many of their favorite subjects: youthful reinvention, manifest deities, supernatural superpowers, and, of course, the transformative power of pop music. The first issue is both intriguing and exhilarating, depicting the adventure of a superfan as she rubs elbows with ancient gods who return every ninety years, this time in the form of gorgeous young people who become 21st century celebrities. At once sublimely understated and action-packed, the first issue grabs you instantly and leaves you anxious to read more.
ComicsAlliance connected with the entire W+D creative team of Gillen and McKelvie; designer Hannah Donovan; letterer Clayton Cowles; and colo(u)rist Matt Wilson for an in-depth conversation about the story they're telling, their collaborative process, and the artistic and cultural inspirations for the series. Along the way, we're revealing some previously unseen behind-the-scenes materials and an exclusive previews of The Wicked + The Divine #2.
The foul-mouthed, booze-fueled adventurers of Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch's Image Comics series Rat Queens probably wouldn't be welcome on The Disney Channel or Cartoon Network (maybe Adult Swim), but that isn't stopping the Weta Workshop's Pukeko Pictures and the Heavy Metal brand from developing it into an animated series.
The two production companies, which jointly acquired the rights to the series, are hard at work developing a half-hour animated version of the exploits of Betty (thief), Hannah (mage), Dee (cleric) and Violet (fighter). They're planning to pitch it to networks soon.
Through its prior two volumes, Image's Liquid City has established itself as one of the most intriguing anthology series on the comics landscape. Though it's only comes out once every couple of years, the collection featuring the work of Southeast Asian creators is nonetheless one of the most beguiling collections of talent largely unknown in the west, and provides a wealth of curious comics in each volume.
This week, the anthology returns with another cabal of creators providing over twenty original stories for the 250-plus-page Liquid City Volume 3. And even though there was a huge leap in quality from the first volume to the second, the newest edition is easily the best in the series.
This week, Chris and Matt talk about how much they love Big Trouble in Little China, and how much they enjoyed the first issue of the new comic sequel by Eric Powell and Brian Churilla in spite of some art hiccups; then it's on to Nailbiter #2 by Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson; and finally they discuss the first volume of Afterlife With Archie by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla.
Rascal, the savvy young heroine of Antony Johnston and Christ Mitten’s Umbral, is a thief with both feet planted firmly in the muck. She lives by her dexterous fingers, her knowledge of the city’s side streets, and an arsenal of four-letter words for anyone who stands in her way. Whispers of myth and monsters at the fringes of her world fail to turn Rascal’s head—in fact, she fears and loathes magic and its practitioners. Too bad she’s the heroine of a fantasy story.
Over the course of its first volume from Image Comics, Umbral creates a world rich with ethnic conflict, class struggle, human emotion and totally wicked looking monsters. A cast of scholars, refugees, thieves, and magicians populates its pages, simmering with glimpsed backstories and murky intentions. At its heart is Rascal, staring down a grand destiny she never wanted. As the first volume hits the shelves, ComicsAlliance spoke with Johnston and Mitten about fantasy tropes, developing character voices, and the importance of The Dark Crystal.
Alien invasion stories have always been fertile ground for allegory. Throughout the history of the sub-genre, spaceships filled with arachnid creatures, little green men, shape-shifting Skrulls, omnipotent super-beings, and brain-eating slugs have come to represent oppressive and militaristic governments, Communism, the disenfranchised, and several more variations of the great and unknowable Other, usually influenced by politics or social issues. Yet with all the metaphoric territory the alien invasions have covered, in Image Comics' Trees, Warren Ellis and Jason Howard prove there's still plenty left unsaid.
A great comic book cover has a lot of work to do. It’s both an advertisement and a work of art; both a statement and an invitation. Sometimes they convey character, sometimes mood, sometimes moment. Sometimes they pastiche the classics or pay tribute to the past; sometimes they strive to show us something entirely new. Always they show us a glimpse of somewhere else through a canvas no bigger than a window pane. In Best Comic Book Covers Ever (This Month), we look back over some of the most eye-catching, original and exceptional covers of the month that was.
Some familiar cover concepts get inventive new spins in the best covers for the month of May, and we put the spotlight on great work from Dan Panosian, Mike Allred, Ron Wimberly, and Chris Samnee and Matt Wilson.
Writer Kieron Gillen has a brand new comic with Jamie McKelvie and colorist Matthew Wilson (my nemesis) called The Wicked and the Divine, which comes to comic shops June 18. Certainly you could go to your local comic shop that day and hope to pick up a copy, but it isn't guaranteed unless readers pre-order it by the order cutoff date, which is Monday, May 26 and give your retailer an idea of how many copies to order (or to order it at all). "Pre-order?" you may ask. "How on earth do I do a thing like that?
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