The Wicked + The Divine Faust Act had nothing to do with Faust

Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. The team behind critical tongue-attractors like Young Avengers and PHONOGRAM reunite to create a world where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever. Collects THE WICKED + THE DIVINE #1-5

This is Volume 1 of the series. It was OK.  As a mythology fangirl, I have a few nit-picky things with this one. One being the term “incarnate.” It doesn’t really do it justice. It’s more like the gods possess the bodies of humans. And it’s not like it’s really full-on gods possessing these humans, either. They don’t seem very powerful.

They say they don’t use their powers so that they don’t scare humans, so it’s hard to tell how omnipotent they are. But, when they do show their powers, they have to do things like snap their fingers to get them to work, which isn’t as godlike as I’d prefer. There’s limitations.

Other limitations being that they can only live for 2 years. And why the fuck it’s every 90 years that this cycle picks back up again is never explained. At least, if it was, I can’t repeat it back to you because I missed it. And by 90 years is it really 90 years then plus 2 years and THEN 90 years again? I didn’t pay attention to the dates thrown at me, but if I have to do math to understand your mythos NO THANKS.

Anyway, the whole snapping thing seemed to equal limited power. Is their power draining? If so, why? Also, is it really not the full form of the god possessing the human body? I could buy that then. That would make sense. Like, if the gods just put a part of themselves in the human just to see what would happen.

But it also seems like part of the human self remains in the body because they seem to care about what happens to their bodies. Is this caring because gods are all trapped somewhere and wanting their turn to be let out in human form? Or is it because part of the god is like “It’s not fair to the young human I’m possessing that they have to die so young?” Not really clear.

Another issue I have with the book is that the gods are all pop stars. Sure, it’s a great way to make money, but if you’re a god WHY NOT CREATE MONEY? Oh, wait. It’s because they want to inspire fans and to be admired. Hm. OK. Why? Seems like this is a contradiction of laying low (not using their full powers). Also, the pop stars are pretty unoriginal — you can tell what pop stars inspired them.  This is probably intentional, but I don’t see how they’re not being sued.

And can we just talk about Lucifer? She looks like a knockoff of Tilda Swinton’s Gabriel in Constantine:

Also, Ananke is old and the same age throughout the 90 year cycle, calling them back into new bodies. HOW?

Why doesn’t she have to die? Why is she not in the game? Does she have the gods locked up somewhere? How’d she manage that?  NEED TO KNOW HOW THE GAME WORKS BEFORE I PLAY.

Also, “Faust Act” is misleading. There is nothing to do with alchemy in this book. Dr. Faust summoned demons for alchemical powers. This isn’t really about that…unless you say Ananke is Dr. Faust in this analogy. Or maybe it has something to do with the devil (Luci) being such a main focus in this one. Anyway, it felt like just one more reference that was jammed in there in their attempt to look cool. 

Lots of questions that lead me to want to (grudgingly) read the next volume, I guess.

But I’m getting tired of these complete rewrites of mythology. You don’t have to recreate the rules to make something interesting. There’s something more creative in keeping things as they are and working within the cultural constraints that would make the story all the more creative rather than just stealing interesting mythical characters you like, like Neil Gaiman does. It’s just as bad as all the “updated fairy tales” these days, recycling characters just like recycled plots. It’s got to stop.

Recommended stories of what I mean that don’t do the Neil Gaiman thing: The Library at Mount Char, Fifteen Dogs, The Automation, The Philosopher Kings… Those work within established myth and theology but create new characters and new plots. Someone back me up here?!?

Other reviews I agree with:

THE WICKED + THE DIVINE . . . was a lot of shiny distractions with periodically deadpan dialogue to mask the lack of substance in the plot. Not impressed. Not recommended.

 

I enjoyed this, but I found it difficult to follow at times and it felt rather undeveloped. I definitely want to continue on with this series, but I can’t deny that I wasn’t very impressed with this first volume.

 

The Wicked and the Divine had this special something about it that kept me interested the entire time I was reading it.
But once I finished, I was like…that’s it?

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3 thoughts on “The Wicked + The Divine Faust Act had nothing to do with Faust

    • Yeah, I can see how that would be a problem. Thankfully, they beat you over the head with repetitive flashbacks in the other volumes. I don’t try too hard and still feel like I know what’s going on.

      • I have volumes 2 & 3 on hold- I’m willing to try reading more of the series. It’s an interesting premise and I love the art.

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