From Writer LJ Duey and artist Paulo Mel comes the second chapter of this supernatural twist on superhero comics in We Wicked Ones #2. Featuring color art by Ander Zarate and lettering from Crank!, this issue continues the compelling story of the first by upping the stakes and introducing our group of Christian-fascist “superheroes” that will serve as the series’ antagonists – and making some frightening connections to the current political situation in America. With a stellar script and outstanding visual direction, this comic returns as one of the most compelling of 2023 so far.
“Riddled with guilt from carrying out a hit job on the only superhero who stood up for Witchkind twenty years ago, Celia decides to put her crossbow down for good. But when the government reassembles F.I.R.E., a team of supers tasked with bringing the one responsible for the death of their colleague and friend to justice, they mistake Lily for the enigmatic witch haunting Washington DC. Celia is determined to spare Lily the same fate their parents met, but it looks like the consequences of her actions might finally be catching up to her.”
Writing & Plot
LJ Duey fleshes out the story’s conflict and introduces readers to the cast of this comic’s religious Injustice League with We Wicked Ones #2. Just as Celia – the protagonist responsible for killing a beloved superhero in the first issue – decides to retire from being a hired killer, an old and powerful enemy returns. A group of government-controlled metahumans that were once responsible for the deaths of Celia’s own family has been reinstated, and now they’re after whoever killed their former compatriot. Only they have the wrong target, and now Celia finds herself on a rescue mission. While the first issue presented a moral problem for Celia, this issue is more about consequences. Duey shows the reader exactly what happened to Celia’s family and generates even more sympathy for her. However, her emotional distance and arrogance has had severe consequences. The central plot is deeply compelling, with Celia being one of the outright coolest – yet most human – protagonists in comics this year. Watching her be in love with her power and use it as a means of comfort has been great, but now she has to remember that she has a responsibility to help more than harm (there was saying some guy at Marvel made up that echoes this). Lily is a great juxtaposition for Celia. Her only concern is protecting her family, in a form of selfishness that is in service to them.
Arguably Duey’s greatest feat with this issue is how it connects to our own reality. The oppression and eradication of witches at the hands of a fascist regime and backed by an ill-informed mob hits a little too close to home for many right now. It’s a compelling plot point, but also a poignant one. Duey develops his characters through his stellar dialogue sensibilities, relaying each cast-member’s personality through how they interact with others. Celia’s increasingly shaky self-confidence is reflected in her internal narration, which also displays how complex a character she is. Once again, Duey pens an engaging and deeply powerful script for this politically charged story of meta-humans and the supernatural.
We Wicked Ones #2 will engage readers with its enticing story, but it will trap them with its astonishing visual work. Paulo Mel’s pencils are rife with character detail, with each person having a wholly unique and memorable aesthetic. Animations are sharp and fluid, with everything from a tense conversation to all-out battle drawing readers eyes into the action with ease. Mel’s sequential direction has an effortless flow to it, with quiet moments split up into smaller panels with the huge scenes gives dramatic splash pages. Every moment is given weight, with thoughtful focuses depending on the events going on in a certain page. The color art from Ander Zarate perfects this comic’s aesthetic. His use of deep, moody tones and a different palette for each character is the perfect touch for setting each scene. Celia’s alluring purple clothing adds to her dangerous charm, while Lily’s pure white reflects her style of magic. Every sequence uses lighting to the greatest possible effect. There’s a scene in a mega-church that uses spotlights and stage lighting to add a sense of foreboding to the supposedly “uplifting” religious iconography. Visually, We Wicked Ones #2 is another incredibly well-drawn chapter.
We Wicked Ones #2 is a stellar follow-up chapter to the equally excellent opening issue. LJ Duey’s script is almost upsettingly poignant, but is also deviously clever and entertaining. The visuals from Paulo Mel and Ander Zarate are genuinely stunning, with great animations and a vivid color palette that will draw readers into the pages with ease. Be sure to grab this newest chapter when it hits shelves on July 5th!