Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Tula Lotay
Review by: Sofía Marlasca
We all opened the last The Wicked + The Divine issue with certain expectations about who Tara would be, what she’d be like and maybe find out why she was so widely disliked by our main cast. I doubt any of us expected to have our hearts broken by Kieron Gillen.
Making readers empathize with a new character is not an easy job, especially when it involves turning 180º from their pre-conceived notion of them. Kieron Gillen does an amazing job developing Tara’s story and personality through a series of flashbacks that perfectly illustrate her life experiences to us. In a very short amount of pages, and with scarce but spot-on dialogue, this issue makes us feel connected to Tara in ways we haven’t with characters we’ve known since issue #1.
It is not an easy challenge for a male writer to tackle issues like objectification and male entitlement to female artists’ bodies — especially dealing with a woman of color — but Gillen manages to do so in a respectful and surprisingly insightful way. Tara’s story is relatable, and real, and fresh. Even if one is not as strikingly beautiful as Tara —illustrated masterfully by Tula Lotay — as a woman it is easy to relate to her struggles. Even more so, Tara’s desire to be actually seen by her peers and her way of doing so being wearing a mask, ironically hiding herself, goes a step further into the deep connotations within this story.
This is not the first time the series has made use of social media like Twitter, but it’s probably the most powerful we’ve seen so far. The level of harassment Tara lives with is the reality for many women in and out of the art industry. Maybe that is what makes this issue hit so close to home. Not everyone knows someone whose head’s been blown off by a deity, but we all know someone who has on some level suffered this kind of verbal violence.
Lotay’s art is amazing. There is no other way to put it. Not only does she manage to capture how strikingly beautiful Tara is, but she gives her the range of emotion that makes us feel her suffering to the bone. The coloring — done by Lotay too — manages to capture the contrast between the thrilling perfect goddess facade, and the real cold and hard world Tara lives in. It is especially interesting how, after she’s been turned into a goddess, all the images from Tara’s point of view have something unearthly to them. Strikes of color and blurry images that show us for the first time the way a god sees the physical world.
Gillen’s pacing is at its best. The narrative of this issue is breathtaking, especially when it hits the turning point: we realize what we are reading is not Tara’s inner monologue, it’s her suicide letter. The realization, while reading the issue for the first time, was thrilling and horrifying at the same time.
And then, of course, there are the last few pages featuring Ananke that advance the plot to where we’ll see it next issue. It is definitively interesting to see the media reaction to Tara’s death, and trying to figure out where this will go… but it is safe to say that falls to the back of our priorities this week.
Gillen has created an amazing standalone issue, with great narrative that manages to encompass Tara’s story as a whole, make us fall in love with her and then break our hearts, all within 30 pages. The guest artist is the perfect choice for this otherworldly beautiful issue. Every delicate social problem is handled respectfully, without shying away from the ugliness of reality, which makes this book the most shocking so far. Overall, this might be the best issue The Wicked + The Divine has published so far, and definitely one that will be talked about widely and for a long time.
Release date: August 5, 2015