Comic Book Review – The Wicked + The Divine: 1923 (Image Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

It has been nearly 4 years since The Wicked + The Divine started (I reviewed it way back then too!), and in that time the incredibly inventive series from Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie has seen 33 issues and a handful of one shots. This week saw the release of another of these additional stories, with The Wicked + The Divine: 1923. Gillen continues writing duties, with art by Aud Koch and lettering from Clayton Cowles.

Cover art by Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson

With the conclusion of Imperial Phase Part II, the series takes the opportunity to again visit a previous pantheon of doomed gods, this time in 1923. Steeped in post-war modernism, this crop of gods resemble try-hard artists more than the aggressively hip stars of the main series. As the gods reach their two year expiry date, they congregate on an island for a party. But the party soon turns into a murder mystery, and while some of the players in the mystery may be more obvious if you are up to date with the series, there is a complex interplay between the suspects, informed by both the era and the natures of the gods in question.

The Wicked + The Divine has always been wildly experimental in its storytelling, both in the prose and in the art. This issue is no exception, and is laid out as a multi-chaptered short story punctuated by bursts of art for the key moments. Gillen’s script is complicated, almost to the point of convolution, but with a lack of hand-holding that continues WicDev’s heady and complete plotting. The murder mystery aspect works well, and the extended prose allows the characters to be fleshed out clearly to a degree that would usually not be achieved in a one shot. And the synergy of the closing pages with the main series is frankly deeply satisfying.

Art by Aud Koch

While the bulk of the issue is prose, the art form Koch is truly stunning. Almost black and white, except for all the blood, is is expressionism in its weirdness, with a bleak loneliness that punctuates the quiet moments and heightens the small amounts of action and the larger group shots and vistas.

These one shots for The Wicked + The Divine continue to impress, and 1923 may be the strongest yet. With a strong cast of characters, links to the main series and gorgeous art (not that McKelvie’s work on the main series isn’t equally gorgeous. This is different-gorgeous), it is well worth your time and as a short story, stands alone fairly well too. Check this out at your LCS now!

Score: 8.5 Zeitgeists out of 10

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