Despite having only two years to live their lives and use their powers, the incarnated gods of The Wicked + The Devine head in a more relaxed direction. The Wicked + The Devine #8 offers:
- Artwork that plays with, modifies, and stretches perceptions on panel arrangements
- Art choices that interact with character development effectively.
- A value: taking steps to reduce others heavy and problematic emotions is a good thing, even
if personally costly.
Dionysius’ altered states are created through contact. This contact high introduces wild colour to the comic, and shifted perceptions on panel arrangements.
The artwork for this comic takes a leap into a new direction. Contact with the most recently introduced god, Dionysius, creates an altered state. Laura, the protagonist, describes the sensation as vintage acid. Parties created by Dionysius are a shifting parade of colour. The artwork captures a glimpse into this altered state. It is the panel arrangements, however, that bring the altered state to life.
Following a moment of contact with Dionysius, Laura starts to see numbers appear in front of her.
The panels are a close portrait shot of Laura. The numbers are layered, transparent, over her. They act as a guide to the reader what order the page can be read.
It’s a clever way to warp the reading order and basic perception of panel arrangements on a page. While the party continues, the numbers appear in two by four grids across each page. The comic story reads from the top left to the lower right each single page. Alternatively, the events can unfold across two adjacent pages, following the sequence of numbers. the pages could also be read diagonally. Dionysius also makes a reference to his powers causing heart rates to accelerate to 120 beats per minute. The numbers are a representation of these rapid heartbeats.
Colour choices are also changed dramatically by character. When the dour, underground god Baphomet arrives at the party, the neon-acid glow that Dionysius brought to the party goers drains from their heads down to their feet, leaving black shadows on the floor. Black ink fills the gutters between panels. These two deities powers are entirely opposed to each other.
The Party brings the characters together, and contrast them. Art choices interact with character development, and it becomes clear that heavy emotions bring down Dionysius’ happy, altered state.
Contrast between opposing characters is highlighted in this comic. The party brings together most of the cast. Cassandra, a journalist cataloguing the deities behaviour, contrasts with Laura. Cassandra has not taken Dionysius party drug. Dressed in black, she is a monochrome opposite to Laura‘s garish glow.
Art choices also interact with character development. Line and colour choices give significant insights into the past and current relationship between Inanna and Baal. When they meet, the smooth trails of light – white lines – that the characters leave behind them as they dance change to wavy lines the moment Baal and Inanna are close. As Inanna explains to Laura how their brief relationship collapsed, the light from Dionysius party effect drains from them.
Heavy emotion brings down the happy, altered state Dionysius pours out into the space around him.
Delving deeper into Dionysius’ personality allows a value to emerge. Laura is half correct in her insights about the party god. The comic takes the The Wicked + The Devine in a new direction.
In two years, this group of talented human deities – just like popular musicians and artists trending on social media and performing on tours around the world – will be gone. In the comic, the ending is more severe and more final with the death of the gods. They burn bright in the short time they have. The comic takes a moment to examine the toll that burning bright in a short time frame takes.
Dionysius has not been alone in his head for two months, and does not sleep. His eyes are a red and inflamed.
The god reveals to Laura that while he looks happy on the outside, the truth is not glamorous. Laura is half correct about her summary of Dionysius. He is trying to help by making people happy. He is not happy though. The value that emerges here is that relief from heavy emotion is a good thing. Even if it’s personally costly, doing something to alleviate others heavier, problematic emotional states with a happy state is a good thing.
Specifically, Dionysius literally gives people a safe contact high. A party god, he stores his guests coats in a pocket dimension. These are important details, which help take The Wicked + The Devine in a new direction.
The Wicked + The Devine #8 is published by Image comics ($3.50 USD) Kieron Gillen (W.) Jamie McKelvie (A.) Matthew Wilson (C.) Clayton Cowles (L.) Cover artwork by Jamie McKelvie.