Reading List: Best of Kieron Gillen
Kieron Gillen is best known for his creator-owned comics PHONOGRAM and THE WICKED + THE DIVINE. But having written for years, he has a deep catalogue of amazing books to choose from, including two of his more recent hits, DIE and ONCE & FUTURE. While there are a plethora of great stories written by Gillen, here are a few favorites or what I would say are essential reading for Gillen fans.
WICKED + DIVINE
This is probably his most famous and well loved projects. Along with artist Jamie McKelvie, we are transported to a world where, every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They're treated as pop stars and celebrities. The catch is that in two years, they are dead. So while they may be immortal, it doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever.
Gillen and McKelvie crafted a tale for the ages, full of humor, drama, and one hell of a playlist by the way. The main narrative follows a 17-year-old multiracial teenager, Laura who's a "fangirl" of the Pantheon. After attending a performance by Amaterasu, she meets several members of the Pantheon for the first time and befriends Lucifer. While all previous Pantheons have consisted of twelve gods, Laura is revealed to possibly be the first thirteenth member, Persephone.
I won't get too much into the rest of the story, I would hate to spoil anything. But trust me on this, you HAVE to check this book out.
This book is what solidified Gillen as a creator I will follow to any project. What he and artist extraordinaire Stephanie Hans (on her first ongoing) have created, is nothing short of astounding. DIE is a pitch-black fantasy where a group of middle aged adults have to deal with the returning unearthly horror they barely survived as teenage role-players.
Kieron’s has often described it as “Goth Jumanji.” Bu that only captures a sliver of what you’ll find in this breathtaking and captivating world. They level up the Fantasy genre in a way that I've never seen before. This has now become a book that I can safely recommend to new comic book readers and is sure to bring them back for more.
ONCE & FUTURE
The story starts when a group of Nationalists seek to use an ancient, Arthurian, artifact to bring a myth back from the dead to gain power. Their plans are in jeopardy though, when ex-monster hunter Bridgette McGuire escapes her retirement home and pulls her grandson Duncan, a museum curator, into this world of magic and mysticism to defeat the legendary threat.
Gillen and artist Dan Mora "explore the mysteries of the past, the complicated truths of our history and the power of family to save the day". As a huge fan of Arthurian myth and history in general, this book was right up my alley. This is one book you won't be able to put down, luckily the first volume was just released and you can cop one at your LCS.
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY
What's not to love about this book. Anything Thor related will always be a must read, in my eyes.
Having written the Thor title shortly after it resumed its original numbering in 2009 with Thor #604-614, Gillen and Co. switched the title back to the JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY, starting with issue #622. The series accompanied the launch of a new title, MIGHTY THOR.
This book had the supporting cast returned as the focus, starring Thor's biggest antagonist Loki , who had been reincarnated as a child following his sacrifice in the SIEGE. Gillen's run was critically acclaimed.
While it wasn't necessarily a top selling book, Gillen was still able to tell the story he set out to tell. While this may not be on everyone's radar, I think it might be one of his most underrated works.
Plus who doesn't love a great Loki story!
When Marvel got the Star Wars license, it was this book that I was most excited about. Let me tell you, it didn't disappoint.
Gillen wrote a 25-issue run starring Darth Vader, which focused on the time period following the destruction of the Death Star, as well as his life after learning about the existence of his son. The series ran parallel to the main STAR WARS series , and even had a crossover titled Vader Down (which was amazing).
His entire run was illustrated by the uber talented Salvador Larocca and is still my favorite Star Wars comic that has come from Marvel. Gillen created some of the most unforgettable characters introduced in the new "canon", Doctor Aphra and of course those murderous droids. Plus his characterization of Vader might be my favorite depiction yet.
Like I've said before, it's not easy to do a good Star Wars comic, but this is a perfect example of how to get one done.