By Kieron Gillen, Clayton Cowles, Kris Anka, Jen Bartel, Emma Vieceli, Chynna Clugston Flores, Carla Speed McNeil, Rachel Stott, Tamra Bonvillain, and Matt Wilson.
There is a holiday tradition for comics to throw out a Christmas or holiday-themed issue to give the readers an extra issue showing your favorite characters enjoying the holidays, or saving Santa from cyborgs; just something to add to the festive spirit of the holidays. For fans of The Wicked + The Divine, there is no phoning it in for the Christmas Annual with our gods interacting with Santa. Instead, the creators of Wic Div, Gillen, McKelvie, Wilson, and Clowes, decided to make this issue more of a present to their fans by filling it with content that has never played out over the panels before. This issue serves as a thank you to the fans, finally showing some of the sexual conquest between our characters like Baal and Inanna, and Lucifer and Sakhmet, and some other important things that happened before the start of the series in the first six months of the Recurrence.
You have to remember while reading this issue that this is a gift for the die hard Wic Div fans. The creators wanted to reward them for being on the Nice list this year and show them all the juicy moments they haven’t seen. So this issue is great for people who already love this series, but if you are a newbie to The Wicked + The Divine, this is not the issue to jump in on. The writing from Gillen is the same traditional writing you can expect from the series: a lot of nasty, biting dialogue from Lucifer and some intimate looks into certain characters to add some character growth. Seeing this almost intimate look at some established characters during the time adds to their legacy. The series-proper starts months into the Recurrence, where we are introduced to the characters who already have God-like abilities. We get bits and pieces here and there to see what kind of person they were prior to their new leveled-up status, but this issue really helps to show a lot of back story, particularly with Lucifer (formally Eleanor) and Amaterasu (formally Hazel). They had a friendship prior to the Recurrence amd it is nice to get a peak to what it looked like before gods walked amongst man.
The book does have some slight issues, sadly: there is little to no transition between panels, apart from a time frame reference like May 2014 or two months later, so it can be hard to keep up with the story. There are a lot of stories, without a real rhyme or reason all bunched together, that can get confusing when all in one issue.
One festive theme The Wicked + The Divine: Christmas Annual #1 carries on is the fantastic art that has become synonymous with the series. The art in this issue is from an eclectic group of artists like Anka, Bartel, Vieceli, Clugston, McNeil, and Stott. The scenes we get, especially the sexy time ones, are done with great attention to detail like facial expressions and background. Just to be clear: this book is rated M for mature readers. There are highly suggestive sexual parts to this book, and you will see penises and breasts within the first 10 pages. And if that does not get you in the holiday sprits, check your pulse. Anyways, the pages are all really visually appealing; there’s always great colors in any The Wicked + The Divine installment, but this issue the scenery and colors really do help to add to the differentiation in stories and time periods. With all these creative artists contributing to one issue, the pages still flowed together nicely. Even the art detail on showing Lucifer when she was Eleanor, before she had the powers of the devil, the character design helps make that transition known. She looks similar, but different and then again seeing her in full Lucy glory, it becomes apparent that she had a glow up, even if it was to become the living incarnation of the devil.
Perhaps the best part of this issue, which may be an unpopular opinion seeing as how there is all this sexy time in the issue, is the cover. The ugly sweater cover from McKelvie was inspired. It truly looked like it was a stitched together with love from the creators for the fans. All the symbols from the Pantheon are incorporated along with snowflakes all colored with red, white, and green. This cover is amazing, it truly does stand out on the shelves from the bright colors. The details from McKelvie make the cover appeared to be actually stitched, so you might find yourself tempted to touch it to see if it is textured.
This issue is not for the weak of heart, but if you are a fan of The Wicked + The Divine, you are most likely used to that. This book was a gift for the fans, the moments of passing joy each member of the pantheon had briefly that was most likely ruined shortly after. If you are not a current fan, then do yourself a favor and catch up before reading this issue. Get all the trades and then dive into The Wicked + The Divine: Christmas Annual #1, you will appreciate this issue so much more after doing so. The creators did the best thing they could do to say thank you to their fans, and that was deliver this collection of moments they wanted to see written and drawn out. It is almost weird to call this book a Christmas Annual, because there is not reference to Santa or Rudolph, but it is done in the spirit of Christmas, so we can let it slide.