I’ll be starting my discussions/reviews of The Wicked and the Divine soon. But I thought I should give a quick introduction.
The story in a nutshell: About once a century, a bunch of gods visit the world again in human form. They awaken in humans and sort of take over their lives, so they get to inspire people and live big for two years…and then die.
Who should read this?
My first impulse is to say “everyone,” but that’s not true. Kids should not read this. People looking for something fluffy and fun should skip it too. It sometimes features things like brutality, murder, sex, nudity, etc. It always includes complex ideas and people dealing with the difficult truth that they’ll be dead soon. It can be a hard read.
But if you’re into all that, or even if you’re not sure you’re into it yet but that description hasn’t put you off, it might be for you. If I were to recommend a specific sub-group for this audience, it would be adults who are sympathetic to feminist and queer issues who also like to consider cultural issues in depth. In particular, it examines fandom and fanaticism, celebrity (from the perspective of celebrities and their fans), religion and authority, and feelings of alienation and belonging.
Why do I like it?
Everything I just said! But also, I’m very attached to a couple of the characters, even though they don’t necessarily show up often. My favorites have barely been in it. But their personalities are portrayed so well in a short space, and combined with my love of mythology and therefore already having an idea in my head of how I think they’d be I was hooked fast. And that means I’ve been hit very hard by bad things happening to them. These characters are family now.
I decided to give it a try in the first place because the basic concept was right in line with my interests. Gods as rock stars? Mythology and pop culture? YES PLEASE. I am up for at least trying just about every version of gods/mythology modernized. But tying that into celebrity culture and fandom was too perfect. In the very first issue, Laura says something about the concert she attends being “what mass aspires to be.” That resonates with me. I’ve found a lot more authenticity and inspiration in secular music and stories than I have in church. There’s something very real and worth exploring in the things we find to love and that inspire us to devotion and creation.
For me, that has mostly not been music. There is some music I really like and I notice it affects my moods. There are certain bands and songs I play when I need to calm down, others when I need to feel and let go of my anger, still others when I’m depressed. So I can understand why music was chosen and I do think it’s magic in some ways (the concept behind Phonogram, another comic by the same creators). But I rarely get involved beyond that. There aren’t any musicians I would go out of my way to see in person or who I follow beyond enjoying their music.
I am that way with fiction and even more with comics. I’m afraid to go to a comic convention because if I meet certain creators I’m afraid I might pass out like Laura does at the concert in the first issue. 😀 (Probably not, but you never know.) I would definitely be nervous and probably beat myself up later for forgetting to tell them how much they’ve inspired me or how much I appreciate their work. Or for going the other way and creeping them out with my adoration.
So the idea of celebrity and fandom as worship makes sense to me. And the way the god-personal isn’t quite the original person but is also not entirely something different makes sense. That need for a mask, a layer between the real person trying to live their life and the crowd of people who put them on a pedestal and force them to fit their expectations, rings true as something I’ve seen in fandom and in the way different religious groups build their own image of God to match their expectations.
There’s so much to explore. Way more than I can fit here. But that’s a start.
In other news, I start a new job tomorrow! Yippee! It’s part time and I don’t expect it to take away from my writing time…if anything, I think I tend to have more energy and write more when I have reasons to get out of the house regularly and also have a more structured schedule. Let’s hope.