I didn’t actually enjoy this one much at all.
It’s for a lot of reasons, but the one that really sticks with me is the art. It’s different from the first two volumes, and varies a lot within this one (I assume one art style per comic as they were released?)… and I don’t really like any of them. I can see why they were done the way they were done; there’s definite sense and logic and skill going on in there, especially for the part focussed on Sekhmet. The art is so very appropriate for her as a character. But I dislike her as a character… so…
I just miss the crispness of the other volumes. There’s a softness or a fuzziness that unites all the art in this one, and it’s just not what I loved about the first two. And for me, it just doesn’t sit quite right with the way the story is told. That sharpness and clarity was one of the best features, and without it… eh. I’m not saying that the art was the only thing going for WicDiv (nor that its absence is the only issue with this volume) but it just feels like it changes the whole tone.
Grump grump grump.
The other thing, that sort of goes hand in hand with the multiple art styles, is that the whole volume does feel really disparate, more so than the previous two. It drifts away from a clear sense of narrative direction, even though there is a strong thread of plot, because of the way it tells what it’s telling, and it leaves a lot of dissatisfaction upon finishing. There’s also more old ground covered without much in the way of new revelation and so it is, ultimately, dissatisfying and disappointing. There are hints of new things, but none of them are much developed and I have minimal patience for tantalising hints without resolution… though I suspect resolution will come in a subsequent volume. But that’s not enough. You need to give us something to go on.
It essentially feels like the awkward middle book in a trilogy, without the knowledge that there’s a third and final book, which will absolutely, definitely resolve all those issues. At least with middle books you know you’ll get satisfaction.
But it wasn’t all bad. The one thing I really did enjoy was a little bit more of an insight into Woden. And boy, he really is a dick. But that makes him interesting, I think. Because they’ve made the decision to write him as a bad person, one whom all the rest of the story and characters acknowledge as a bad person… and then have him acknowledge it himself. He knows he’s awful. And… it isn’t even as though he doesn’t care? The way I was reading it (though of course this may be completely at odds with what was intended or what other people read in there) is that he’s oddly resigned to being awful. But that’s not the same as not caring. I’m really hoping we get more of this because I would be keen to see if I am reading it right… and if I am, I would genuinely love to see some more of it. I like anti-heroes, I guess. Not that I particularly like Woden. He’s not likeable in the slightest. They’ve not made that decision, and I think it’s a good choice. There’s always something iffy about a character being genuinely awful but simultaneously likeable, since you have to somehow excuse the awful to get to that point. But I digress. I sense that Woden could be really interesting, and it’s the only thing we got in this volume where I really felt like there was direction to it, and I was likely to get a resolution. And I’d like some more of that.
I am, of course, also still interested in what’s going on with Ananke, but that plot seems to be going so slowly I just can’t get that invested in it. But I live in hope, so maybe it’ll pick up a bit in volume 4… I just have to wait until October* to find out.
In short, too much hint, not enough substance, and I miss the lovely art. But still going to keep reading in the hope of better things.
Also, the additional stuff at the back is quite fun. This one particularly caught my eye:
Since I’m hoping to borrow someone’s copy of the first volume of that, I am somewhat amused by the intertextuality going on.
But I really enjoyed all the discursive stuff about layouts and fonts and all the other choices that logically I understand go into making a comic, but that maybe I don’t think about properly until someone points out to me exactly how and why those choices were made. So it’s nice to have a couple of those here.
*Incidentally, October is when I get the next Rivers of London book, The Hanging Tree, so it’s going to be a good month for me, bookwise.