Written by: Kieron Gillen
Illustrated by: Kate Brown, Leila Del Duca, Brandon Graham, Stephanie Hans, Tula Lotay, Jamie McKelvie
Publisher: Image Comics
Format: Softcover, 6.75 x 10.25, 200 pages, Full Color, $14.99
Every 90 years, 12 gods incarnate as humans, engage the world around them in ways only demi-gods can, and within two years are dead. Such is the premise of The Wicked + The Divine from Phonogram and Young Avengers creative team Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, whose series focuses on the current group of gods who have appeared in the present day, and have mostly become pop stars and cultural icons.
As the third volume opens, multiple gods are dead, and the members of the Pantheon of incarnated gods are trying to find Baphomet, a god who'd gone rogue and killed another, while trying to discover the mysterious person or people trying to kill them all. In the midst of this chaos, gods turn on each other, hidden plots are revealed, and the human lives of several gods are revealed.
This volume focuses on several of the gods individually, telling the stories of the people they were before their divinity was imparted, with each one's human life seeming to greatly influence their godhood. Each chapter features a different artist, with McKelvie handing off artist credit except for the chapter on Woden, which – appropriately for a god depicted in a glowing Tron-style uniform with a Daft Punk-type helmet – is made up of panels from previous comics, edited and manipulated into a new layout (with a couple of panels from Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsy's Sex Criminals thrown in).
The art is impressive, and feature contributions from Kate Brown (Young Avengers), Tula Lotay (Supreme: Blue Rose), Stephanie Hans (Angela: Asgard's Assassin), Leila Del Duca (Shutter), and Brandon Graham (Prophet). Each artist’s style matches the character they're portraying, from Lotay's delicate, fluid line work on the doomed Tara, Hans' bright, dynamic depiction of sun goddess Ameratsu, or Del Duca's dark, goth-tinged art for the war loving Morrigan.
Gillen has gained a following for his strong characterizations, often of conflicted young heroes and villains (and usually those in-between), and those strengths are well on display here. With only 20 or pages per god, he fleshes out each character, showing them to be fully rounded and still very human despite – or because of – their godhood. Simultaneously, he moves ahead the main mystery of the series, offering major revelations while opening the doors to even more questions.
To enjoy The Wicked + The Divine Volume 3 the reader will need to read the first two volumes, but the series is engaging enough that those who enjoy the first will be around for this latest installment. The series is recommended for Adult (18+) readers who enjoy modern takes on mythology, urban fantasy, stories with strong music and pop culture elements, and any of the creative team's previous works.