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The Wicked + The Divine Volume 3: Commercial Suicide Paperback – February 9, 2016
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Top Customer Reviews
This third volume is largely focused on providing more information about each member of Gillen and McKelvie's celebrity pantheon, and coming with this new direction is also the inclusion of guest artists illustrating five of the six issues (McKelvie himself did 14). The artistic styles between the five vary greatly, sometimes being rich, vibrant, and detailed, and at other times being more roughly drawn with a more simplistic color palette. Stephanie Hans, Brandon Graham's, and (especially) Tula Lotay's issues were my favorites, but the artists were all chosen in a very clever way in which their styles reflect the overall tone of their respective issues, e.g. Lotay's is deep and poignant for an issue that also is, Graham's is zany and cartoonish for an issue that also is, etc.
It's definitely a shift in gears, and our main protagonist from the first two volumes, Laura, is absent from this third, but don't take that as meaning that this volume is more boring or any less excellent. Even though the action in it isn't as rampant, McKelvie's storytelling abilities are spot on as ever. Most notable of all, we also get the huge reveal in this volume of who killed the judge and framed Lucifer back in Volume 1, and the answer may come as yet another shocker. But by exploring each god's background more in depth, McKelvie is effectively able to give readers a better understanding of how they all relate to the perpetrator, and which gods may be standing with or against them down the line. It comes at a good timing, and lays a solid foundation for things inevitably heating up in the soon-to-come fourth arc.
Don't let the change in technique and some of the negative reviews below deter you. If you're a fan of what's come before, buy this trade and keep the magic going.
HOWEVER, these issues focus very heavily on the backstories of the other gods which is suuuper cool to read through, even if a lot of it did feel like filler narrative until McKelvie got back to illustrate again.
Commercial Suicide suffers from two major problems, one explicable and unavoidable and the other not so much. The first is that most of the art for this volume came from guest artists rather than from McKelvie himself, though the issue he does handle (a remix of previous panels seen through Woden's eyes) is glorious. That's fair - McElvie's off doing other things, and someone has to draw the panels, after all - but in previous issues if the story ever faltered, you still had the gorgeousness to distract you. With McElvie absent, Gillen's failure to engage with the plot bomb he dropped at the end of the last volume is unignorable, as is the haphazard storytelling. Sure, we get a bit here about the Morrigan's backstory and some insight into Woden, as well as a bit of character death and meta commentary on the cruelty of internet fandom, but it's jumbled and messy, and seems to do nothing to move the action forward. It's as if, with McElvie gone, Gillen decided just to tread water for a bit rather than allow guest artists to work on major plot points. (And honestly, based on some of the art, I'm not sure I can fault that decision.)
I'm still intrigued by the idea of this series enough to keep following it, but there's no denying that Commercial Suicide is disappointing at best. (I'm not going to make the obvious joke about the subtitle.) Here's hoping volume four offers a resurrection of everything that makes The Wicked + The Divine so great.