In case it’s somehow slipped your comic reading radar, The Wicked + The Divine is one of the top selling Image comics in the past two years. From the amazing creative collaboration between Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, and a smattering of guest artists in later issues, WicDiv is a tale spun with a particular kind of godlike charm and magic although it centers around a regular girl named Laura. Laura idolizes members of The Pantheon (gods who become mortal human superstars for a very brief two year span every 90 years). The story is a fantastic examination of fame and celebrity, idolatry and blasphemy, and with such a colorful cast, I couldn’t help but make it the subject of a Fancast, especially since WicDiv has been optioned for a TV show by Universal TV!
Laura Wilson is our teenaged South London protagonist. It’s through Laura’s rose colored glasses that we encounter each god, and feel what she feels, namely a fangirl’s yearning to be part of the Pantheon.
Casting Choice: While the English born Gugu is in her early 30s, she has a critically acclaimed background in acting, and, to me, appears youthful enough to play Laura if she ends up being aged up to early to mid-twenties.
Secondary Choice: Alternatively, Laura could be played by upcoming X-Men: Apcalypse star, Alexandra Shipp, even if her filmography isn’t as extensive…yet.
It’s safe to say this Bowie inspired leading lady snatched all of our hearts from the very first second she graced a panel. She kept us guessing and lusting for more, and the creative team certainly made sure she was as irresistible as possible.
Casting Choice: Her most famous franchise aside, my choice for the androgynous, nihilistic, and smug Lucifer is Kristen Stewart. She positively shines in her independent film choices for the most part, and it would be interesting to see her embody the chief fallen angel herself. My biggest issue is whether or not Kristen could sell that signature McKelvie smolder.
Secondary Choice: Perhaps Evan Rachel Wood would be a better choice. She can definitely do predatory as seen in her brief stint on True Blood, and could bring a touch of lightness to the role.
The ethereal sun goddess Amaterasu is benevolent and kind, and our first introduction to the Pantheon in issue one. I felt that any actress cast should have an immediate like-ability to them, along with the potential to play such an easily wounded beauty.
Casting Choice: This reincarnation of the Shinto deity could absolutely be done justice by Once Upon A Time alum, Emilie de Ravin, assuming time could be made in her busy television schedule.
Secondary Choice: My other pick for donning the immaculate white dress? Holland Roden of Teen Wolf fame.
Although he comes off a bit cold, anyone shouldering the egotistical mantle of this particular sexually fluid god has to be able to balance a little bit of Kanye and a little bit of heart.
Casting Choice: One of the stars of Fox’s increasingly popular drama Empire, Jussie Smollet has proven he can play a character with heart and a metric ton of musical talent, but it would be such fun to see him tackle such a darker character.
Secondary Choice: The same could be said of rising movie star, Michael B. Jordan, even though he might have other offers on the table following his performance in Creed.
Casting Choice: Assuming money isn’t an issue, there’s no need to fix what isn’t broken since the wild and insatiable Sakhmet is already based on popular songstress, Rihanna.
Matriarch supreme Ananke commands your attention, and as the only immortal not to be reincarnated every cycle, I think she is quite possibly the most interesting character in the series thus far.
Casting Choice: Watching the Dame Judi Dench scold anyone leaves an impression, and she’s one of the few people I’ve watched who can make a whisper seem menacing.
Black leather, abs, fangs, and perfectly tousled hair make up the bad boy, Baphomet, but there’s definitely more than meets the eye. Easily one of the more fun members of the Pantheon, his character provides room for puns, lots of dramatic flair, and a healthy dose of flirtatious dialogue
Casting Choice: As there’s “none more goth” than he, except perhaps The Morrigan, Baphomet requires a brooding actor who could definitely fill the shoes of the rock star celestial being, like Game of Thrones’ Kit Harrington or Teen Wolf‘s Tyler Hoechlin.
It’s easy to pigeonhole The Morrigan (Badbe, Gentle Annie, Morrigan) as Baphomet’s lover and leave her there, but this three-in-one goddess has layers upon layers.
Casting Choice: Kaya Scodelario, Alexandra Daddario, and Anna Popplewell as a collective, or on their own, possess the vulnerability and ferocity of the Irish goddess(es) needed to accurately bring her to life.The Morrigan’s shapeshifting skills could also provide an easy explanation for the different faces, should the show cast three different ladies as the Queen of the Underground.
The moment Inanna was introduced into the comic series, my mind immediately connected the him o the character Felix Dawkins from the Canadian sci-fi television series, Orphan Black. Normally a goddess, his purple aesthetic and sweet nature makes for a touching addition among the more rough members.
Casting Choice: Looks aside, Jordan Gavaris has proven himself proficient at portraying a complex character in a television series, and if someone with casting abilities hears my shouts on the internet, perhaps we can see him play this Prince-ly role.
Mentions of Tara were hard to come by in the first two arcs, but writer Kieron Gillen delivered one hell of a message when we got a whole issue dedicated to her, a message I hope will translate to television. I am loathe to say more about this casting, if only because we have so little of Tara to go on, and I don’t wish to spoil anyone!!
Casting Choice: Since Tara does not speak much outloud and her story revolves around her beauty, I chose gorgeous model/actress Shay Mitchell, probably best known for her work on Pretty Little Liars.
Since I have yet to cast Minerva, Woden, Dionysus, or Urdr/The Norn, tweet me your choices using the hashtag #SCFancastFriday!
The Untamed: A Sinner’s Prayer
Writer: Sebastian A. Jones
Cover Art: Peter Bergting
Interior Art: Peter Bergting
Colorist: Peter Bergting
Letters: Joshua Cozine and Troy Peteri
Publisher: Stranger Comics
Release Date: Nov 4th 2015
Indie publisher Stranger Comics is aspiring to create a universe on an epic scale. Their newest book Niobe: She Is Life was released to massive hype this month due to its creative team of actress Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games) and Ashley A. Woods (Milennia War). We stopped by Stranger’s booth at NYCC and picked up their gorgeous hardcover for The Untamed: A Sinner’s Prayer, a story of vengeance and jump-off world-building vehicle for the Asunda Universe.
Jones doesn’t deliver anything too new in The Untamed. Back from the dead on a mission of vengeance against those responsible for murdering him and his family, a cloaked Stranger returns to the town of his past sins and former life. Yes, we’ve seen The Crow. For an introduction to a whole universe however, the simple story sort of works and is easy enough to follow while more complicated world-building elements like trade disputes and magic are fleshed out. We did enjoy that the character of The Stranger had both a dark past beyond his vengeful present, which adds a little bit of depth in the reading and consideration of who you’re actually rooting for in this story. We cast our lot with Niobe, who makes more than an appearance in this series as a grounding compass for the demonic Stranger.
Ultimately, what hurts this book is part of its strength. Bergting’s painterly style is gorgeous and bold, but the monochromatic panels often limit just how much of the town of Oasis we can actually see. It’s hard to get a feel for this world at times, and some of the dialogue doesn’t quite sync with this seemingly medieval-type fantasy setting of Asunda. Perhaps a smaller complaint is the number of hooded figures-to-panel ratio in the book. The mysterious reveal of a cloaked character loses some of its effectiveness after the 4th or 5th time and at some point, we just want to know immediately who the heck is talking.
Still, it is an impressive effort from a new publisher, and we’re excited to see more of what Stranger comics has planned for Asunda and the universe. If you’re interested in picking up the hardcover, also know that it’s a beautifully put together book with a stunningly glossy cover and extra features like collected variants and some behind the script stuff.
100 Bullets began as a comic with a schtick: Mysterious wrinkly secret Agent Graves hand delivers a suitcase to a hapless lowlife containing a gun, 100 untraceable bullets, and the missive to “do with it what you will” in seeking vengeance . It was pure pulp and Brian Azzarello’s scripts paired with Eduardo Rissso’s art were a credit to the genre. However, as the series progressed, the pulp short stories of earlier issues were woven together into a sprawling crime saga. Here are our picks for the best issues of the landmark series.
Even as the series morphed in to a transcontinental epic, it remains a story about nasty criminals doing nasty things. In this issue, Cole “The Wolf” Burns returns to his girlfriend and attempts to sync up his brief stint out of the crime world with his return to his place as an enforcer of the minutemen. It doesn’t work out, nor does the heist told analogous to Cole’s story. What makes this particular issue great is two fold. First, the rare occurrence of a female character’s refusal to tolerate her criminally deviant man is small moment but important. Second, we just love the heist storyline in this issue that involves a crew of bubbling criminals who don animal masks to stick up a bar. It’s nigh impossible to close the issue without acknowledging that Cole Burns is one of the coolest motherfucker’s in fiction.
2)#37 On Accidental Purpose
In another issue during the run that focused on a single character, Dizzy “the Girl” Cordova returns to Chicago, unsure of her path with Mr. Shepard and seeks a connection to her past. In one of the more emotionally wrenching issues, Dizzy realizes that for better or worse, she’s moved beyond the settled-down girls from her old crew and what was left of her unreliable family. There mastery in Azzarello’s dialogue in this issue, which we personally felt was a little hokey in Dizzy’s first arc(also the first arc of the series), deserves as much attention as Risso’s art.
3) #50 Pray for Reign
100 Bullets as a series is one of the greatest for many reasons and the selections on this list were made not only for their individual superlativeness but because they showcase a characteristic of the storytelling that sets the comic as a whole apart. In this case, Pray for Reign displays the masterful ability of Azzarello to tell several stories not only at once, but in the span of 22 pages. We are dropped into a scene very similar to that in Reservoir Dogs: A caper has gone very badly and the crew of assorted scumbags meets at a bar to wait for the shit to continue to hit the fan. One criminal then tells a story of one of the most influential crimes in history that occurred hundreds of years ago. The story, of course, is the crux of the current saga and the teller turns out to be one of the last minutemen. It is a perfect bookend to the end of the first half of the series and the start of the next. As always, how about that art?
4)#21 Sell Fish & Out to Sea
In which the introduction of one of our favorite characters Jack “The Monster” Daw occurs. Seriously, 100 Bullets has some of the most memorable character introductions in any comic that we’ve read. For a series in which the art is like 90% Cheshire smiles, it never gets less chilling to see hulking Jack’s evil grin shine through the darkness at some poor sap. We’ve had some depressing victims of Grave’s little game, but is anything more tragic than knowing you are the one that ruined your own life? Jack Daw’s addiction to both heroin and his own destruction remains one of our favorite story lines right up until issue 100.
5) #26 Mr. Branch Tells All
This issue is all about the art, as several guest artists like Jim Lee and Lee Bermejo contribute pages, though happily, none equal Risso’s perfect command of the content. 100 Bullets loves showcasing some impossibly endowed ladies, but this is one issue that we can say is straight up sexy in its dark colors and in the flawless form of Echo Memoria. Plus, we are gifted with some major exposition as Branch ties together the workings of Agent Graves and The Trust.
6)#95 Chapter Seven: Ducks
Relationships between brothers are explored throughout the run of the series, often in one-shot characters but also in several of the series main players. The most memorable is probably that between Remi and Ronnie Rome. These two exemplify begrudging familial love as both believe that they are the better man and son and equally plagued in having a brother like the other. In this issue we see Ronnie Rome dutifully attempt to visit his brother in the hospital, but like most who have relations with a minutemen, he is ultimately done in by his devotion to his brother. When Victor laughs at the demise of the Rome brothers, we see the tragedy of this story: these minutemen are truly tainted and irredeemable men.
7)#58 Coda Smoke
This here issue ranks high just because it is the pinnacle shocking moment in a series full of them. In one of the more tragic accidental shootings, Dizzy is triggered to eliminate her friend and mentor as always, part of the larger scheme of the series. In a shot that will ring through the rest of the story, the fate of Mr. Shepard is settled at a gas station in the middle of nowhere.
8) #55 Wylie Runs the Voodoo Down
Something else mindblowingly good in 100 Bullets? It is an epic saga that takes place across America (with occasional stops in Mexico and Europe) and each local is rendered near flawlessly. From the mood to the colors to the architecture, everything feels so real you can almost taste it. This is particularly notable in series where 90% of the action happens in bars…and each bar is completely unique and looks like it just belongs in wherever it is set! We wanted to make sure we highlighted these accomplishments on our list and this issue ultimately beat out a Benito-focused story in Atlantic City and any of the ones set in Miami just because it focuses on our main dude Wylie “Point Man” Times. New Orleans at its best.
9) #100 A House of Graves
If we ever had to give evidence that 100 Bullets needed its own television series, we toss any tv executive a copy of this last issue, because hot damn is this an ending of legendary status. This is not actually one that I can even discuss without going through the 99 issues that came before it because it is faithful to what demands to be called a saga. Dynasties end, killers retire their guns, and monsters live. For every finale that let you down, there will always be this issue of 100 Bullets.
10) #27 Idol Chatter
Wed’ like to point out that the issues on this list were ranked in no particular order…except for this one. This is it, the masterpiece in our not-so-humble opinion. The tragic story (and there are many in this series) of young love turning into old regret and vengeance. It is perhaps one of the best moments where it is explicitly and deftly shown that revenge doesn’t heal loss and that love can’t be rekindled at the end of a smoking barrel. We are given history, intrigue, mystery and sex in this strange one-off issue, as maybe the least sports literate of us exclaim in shock and realization at the ending. And we’re so grateful that it happened. RIP Marilyn, RIP # 13.
What do you think? “What about MILO? Or Meghan?” you scream. Hey, we had to edit it down somehow! Let us know what your favorite issues were and if they made the list!
New from Dusk Comics is “The Trials and Tribulations of Miss Tilney”, a nod to the old British penny dreadful stories (early pulp fiction) that features the titular character as a columnist for the London Post, whose desire for a more juicy assignment lands her in the middle a conspiracy most foul.
If you’re looking for a comic with high on the depth and light on the cheese, this isn’t for you. It’s a pulp story, and that’s what you should expect going in. In the first of three issues, Henrietta Tilney awarded an assignment to interview the accused murderers Lord Beowulf Harwood and Dr. Plum. The pair has been accused of hunting down and killing people a la The Most Dangerous Game. After visiting the prison and talking to the charming and scrappy Lord Harwood, Miss Tilney becomes convinced of the men’s innocence and offers to help them escape. She returns with Harwood and Plum to their estate in the hopes to further uncover the truth behind the murders and her new companions’ framing.
While neither the story nor the writing blew me away, I really appreciated the Gothic style and art. At the same time, I found the colors rather flat and uninteresting, though the last few panels were well done certainly peeked my interest (read it and you’ll see why) as the fate of Miss Tilney is left as a bloody cliffhanger. If you think pulp stories are silly or too cheesy…then this comic isn’t for you. However, if you are in to the genre, than the “The Trials and Tribulations of Miss Tilney” is a good salute to the old stories.
Kate Finnegan is a robust, gorgeous 26-year-old ex-RN who currently makes her living as a colorist for Big Dog Ink and Azurek Studios. This Irish beauty hails from Pennsylvania and has a love for Batman that is unrivaled! Her interests include Batman, comics, Star Wars, Batman, Game of Thrones, Photoshopping herself onto men and her ideal mate must possess a strong physical build, resistance to most diseases, sharp eyesight, acute hearing, knowledge of wilderness survival, martial arts, and firearms/other weaponry.
L: Kate, I’m going to start off by saying you are my female soul mate. How does that make you feel?
KF: It makes me feel like a unicorn farted in my chest and then sang me a love song.
L: Hahaha, that is hilarious to picture! Here we go, question #1: if you were a Star Trek [or Star Wars] character, which one would it be and why?
KF: For Star Trek, I would be Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the S.S. ENTERPRISE because I would be bald, smooth, and sexy. Plus, I could run around telling people to “make it so.” For Star Wars, I’ve been told I’m like a female Han Solo even thought I don’t smuggle things on a regular basis. If I got to choose, I’d pick Chewie because then I would never have to shave my legs again and my lush pelt would be a thing of beauty!
L: Oh my God, you are cracking me up! Next question! If aliens landed in front of you and, in exchange for anything you desire, offered you any position on their planet, what position would you want?
KF: I would want them to go the hell away because I am deathly afraid of aliens. If I could somehow refrain from soiling myself, I think I would make a fantastic Surgeon General. I wouldn’t be a stuffy type either, I would be the “cool” kind. I would follow the warnings on cigarette packages with something like: “It’s okay, we support you no matter what you choose to do, brah!” Since I’m an RN, I am so qualified for this!
L: If you were a salad, what kind of dressing would you have?
KF: I don’t really eat salad. I do like fruit salad, though and I really like that strawberry cream cheese flavored dip that comes with it. That counts, yes?
Leia: I SAY YES!
KF: Okay, that’s what I’d pick. I’d like to be chopped in tiny pieces and covered in strawberry cream cheese dip (If you’d have said it didn’t count, I would have chosen thousand island dressing cause it sounds pirate-y)
Leia: Pirate-y is the best adjective there is :D Now on to the serious stuff! Top Dog’s Penny For My Soul issue #6 is the first issue we get to see your work on. How did it feel getting to see your name?
KF: It was kind of surreal at first. I set a pretty hefty goal for myself and seeing my name in print was proof I made it. If you set a goal, dedicate yourself to it, sacrifice and practice for it. You can’t fail; I’m living proof! When reality sunk in and I saw the placement of my name, I had a very good laugh.
L: For those who don’t know, Kate’s name appeared beneath a very intimate encounter, hahaha. Kate, are you influenced by any colorists out there?
KF: I’ve read comics for a large portion of my life so I leave it up to the people looking at my art to figure out who influences me. I love old school fantasy art…Frazetta, Luis Royo, Boris Vallejo, and Julie Bell and the like. For comics, it depends on the style of the lines you are coloring. When I was younger and first saw Battle Chasers, the guys over at Liquid! Completely blew my mind. The times I color stuff for Stefano Cardoselli, I study stuff he himself has colored and folks like Mike Mignola and Les Dorscheid. Since I started reading and working for Big Dog comics, I just fell in love with Oren Kramek’s style. Take a look through Penny For Your Soul or Ned the Chainsaw Guy and those pages just pop out at you. For pin-ups and other styles, I’ve been looking at Jason Keith, Steve Firchow, Blond, Peter Steigerwald, and Nei Ruffino. I watch Nei livestream a lot; she’s awesome all around.
KF: It seems like a lot of folks chase the “dream” of working for the big two but I gotta say, I am totally happy where I’m at and what I’m doing. I’ve met and am working with some of the most amazing people with totally fresh, brand new stories. Sure we grow up with DC and MARVEL and I will always love them, but I find myself drawn to small press. That is how Tom Hutchison found me. I was a fan of Penny For Your Soul and we started talking about it, and I was like “Oh hey, I totally color stuff” and it went from there. I’m not saying if an opportunity came along for me to color for the big guys I wouldn’t take it, but it would have to be something pretty damn outstanding and it wouldn’t be able to take away from what I’m doing now.
L: Why did you choose to pursue coloring?
KF: I bought a Wacom tablet on sale on a whim. I was feeling pretty low, and needed a creative outlet. I’ve only ever taken art classes in high school and since they always brought me happiness, I figured I’d start drawing again. Shortly after posting stuff on DeviantArt, I fell in with a group of artists and found out you could just color stuff. That’s my favorite part so I started working at it. I never expected it to be more than a hobby and once I was laid off in October from my nursing job, I gave myself the winter to see if I could do it professionally. Now, here I am!
L: That’s awesome. What medium do you prefer to use when you color?
KF: I built my own rig with digital art in mind. I upgraded my Wacom Intuous 3 to a Cintiq 21UX recently and that made me happy. I use Photoshop and have been teaching myself through Google Sketchup as I would like to start drawing as well. I’m looking into purchasing Copic markers to do some convention pieces and I can’t forget my old standby: tub of crayons!
L: I feel lame; all I use is color pencils to color Pokemon! Do you have any advice for girls out there who want to break into the comic industry?
KF: The comic industry as it stands right now, is still a boy’s club. You’re gonna have people come right out and insult you, belittle you, make inappropriate comments and advances just because you’re a girl. Never compromise your values to fit in and never let them treat you like less of a person because you aren’t the gender they think should work in/appreciate comics. There are many amazing creators out there that will respect you; be smart and find them. Tom Hutchison at Big Dog Ink is one of these people. I wouldn’t work for anyone who is disrespectful or lewd to women, which is why I’m happy to stay for as long as he’ll have me. Always be kind, supportive, respectful and appreciative of fellow fans and creators, no matter the gender. Just don’t try and take my job, ladies!
L: Thank you so much for taking the time out to speak with me, Kate. Kate Finnegan’s next works can be seen in Top Dog’s Penny For My Soul Issue#7 and Legend of Oz: The Wicked West in the fall!