"The Wicked + The Divine" #8 is set at Dionysus's celestial dance party as the latest of the twelve returned gods reveals himself as Laura continues to figure out who killed Lucifer. While Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie play with form and pacing, "The Wicked + The Divine" #8 is almost certainly not a good place for a new reader to jump on board.
In many ways, the lack of this being a good jumping on point is noteworthy because it's a rare thing from Gillen and McKelvie, who normally juggle accessibility and advancing long-term plots with the greatest of ease. Here, because of how the issue is set up, there's not a lot to latch onto for a new reader. This issue is set amidst the thumping beats of the dance floor with most of the pages giving up half of their space to an ever-present "1 2 3 4" step. It's the sort of setup that makes sense -- and it's especially good if you're reading this digitally because the numbers never move even as the colors and figures flash from one page to the next -- but it means that Gillen and McKelvie have sacrificed a lot of real estate in the issue.
The end result? Aside from Laura's investigation, there's not a lot to this issue. More importantly, the investigation itself is shown in bits and snatches of moments, as Laura and the other gods interact amidst the deafening music. It fits perfectly for what it would be like to enter Dionysus's realm -- and Gillen's idea of what it's like to go to his dance is a clever one -- but, in doing so, it definitely sacrifices some elements of what is normally a faster-moving, information-packed comic.
Still, "The Wicked + The Divine" #8 looks great. The tattooed laurel wreath on Dionysus' head is a great twist, and I love how McKelvie and Matthew Wilson can make him look affable for most of the issue, only to suddenly show us his dark side in one single panel near the end. The "I don't sleep" panel is perfect; the eyes are hard and flinty, the bloodshot red tinge is eerie and the furrowed brow just finishes it off nicely. After the neon colors of the dance cycling from one palette to the next, it's a sudden, screeching halt to what was a good time for all.
"The Wicked + The Divine" #8 is still a good, above-average comic. For a series that is normally great, however, this issue is definitely not quite as dazzling. Considering the purpose of this issue, though, it's more than understandable. Still, I'm looking forward to next issue not being set up quite this way, if only because more panels from Gillen, McKelvie and Wilson are always a good thing.