Comic fans everywhere have a stack of books. Sometimes it’s manageable. Sometimes it isn’t. It sits, judging you for your choices, when in reality it is just hurt, hurt that it is made up of books that haven’t been read yet, maybe never will.
This is Read Pile, where we make that pile smaller, one book at a time, and we make our other pile, our Read Pile , a little bit bigger. Wait—
This Read Pile is by Reagan Anick, someone who’s growing in power over at WWAC, while also doing beautiful pieces like I Mourned My Great Uncle By Watching Godzilla (1998). She’s gonna be a star. She picked the first hardcover of WicDiv, which I couldn’t be more thrilled about.
As a massive fan of Kieron Gillen’s work it may come as a surprise that I had never read The Wicked + The Divine. Now that I’ve read the first eleven issues I regret waiting. So much so that this article was originally going to be about the first five issues. I was invested to the point that I just went ahead, bought Year One, and read it in a single sitting.
In The Wicked + The Divine, Gillen tackles both celebrity and mortality; intertwining those themes in a way that in retrospect seems complexity natural. Fame is fleeting, so is life. At the same time as he tackles fame itself, Gillen also spends time on the subject of fandom and how fandom affects both fans and celebrities. As someone who spent much of my formative years on tumblr, fandom is something that I know intimately.
Aided by the art of Jamie McKelvie, who has previously worked with Gillen on Young Avengers (a favourite of mine) and Phonogram (which is on my ever increasing reading list) tackles these themes and, as is the norm for Gillen, does so well.
The Wicked + The Divine exists in a world where every ninety years 12 people become the reincarnations of gods. For two years, those people are celebrities. Especially for Laura Wilson, a seventeen year old girl who is a massive fan of these gods, known as The Pantheon. That right there is where I found a kinship with Laura.
The fact that Laura’s idols are literal reincarnations of gods is neither a coincidence nor is it a story element chosen entirely because it’s a cool concept. Idolatry after all, does not begin and end with golden calves.
In 2014, when The Wicked + The Divine #1 was released, I was one of those 14 year olds on Tumblr who was super into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and even then I was mainly into Loki. Now that I’m 20 and It’s 2021, I’ve grown out of that intense fandom and honestly, I think it’s for the better that I waited this long. The fact that I’m less consumed by the rabid love of a thing allows me to relate to the fact that Laura becomes disillusioned with the fandom surrounding The Pantheon in the same way that I’ve become both more aware of the flaws in the things I’ve loved and less all-consumed by that love.
If I was younger, if I hadn’t yet been made aware of the flaws in my former idols, if I wasn’t as wise as I like to think I am then I would see this differently. But because of the knowledge I’ve gained since 2014, I see The Wicked + The Divine differently then I would have then.
At its core, The Wicked + The Divine is about fandom just as much as it is about celebrity. After all, what is a celebrity without fans and what is a god without worshipers? The line between fandom and worship is thin to the point of often being non-existent and The Wicked + The Divine takes that fact and uses it to its advantage.
I first came to Gillen through fandom. As mentioned previously, I was a big fan of Loki in my early teen years. It was through a tumblr page about MCU Loki that I found a link to a second page about Kid Loki: journey-into-mystery.tumblr.com, inactive since 2018 (rip to a legend). Had I read The Wicked and The Divine in that period of time, I would not come away with it as I am now. I wouldn’t have seen the discussion of the similarities between worship and fandom; instead I would have seen the similarities between myself and the fans of The Pantheon and thought to myself “that’s me. I am one of those people”, and I wouldn’t have engaged with it any further beyond that thought.
Thanks to the fact that I have grown with time and have become involved in fandom in a different way from before, I’m able to take a step back and view my past self in the same context that I’m viewing the fictional fandom of this book. To say I was intense would be an understatement. I was obsessive when it came to the things I loved, they were all I ever wanted to talk about.
Sometimes waiting can be a bad thing when it comes to some media, I waited too long to read The Catcher in the Rye and I hated every moment of it. But more often, waiting can be something that allows you to come into it with more experience and more insight. I waited to read this and because of that, I saw it in a different way then I would have otherwise.
If you feel it might be worth it, I implore you to wait. Who knows, you might get even the tiniest bit more out of it than you would have otherwise. I know I did.
You probably already know about them, but while you’re here, you should check out Women’s History Month which has been fantastic so far! They’re a great collection of pieces, and there are only gonna be more of the, as the month goes. Start reading now.