Published on June 3rd, 2015 | by Dapper Dan3
The Wicked + The Divine 11 – Comic Review
Once again, we return. OK, right off the bat I have to say SPOILERS. This is a huge issue of The Wicked + The Divine, with a number of big moments in the continuing tale of Gods & Monsters that Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie are creating. So, SPOILERS. SPOILY, SPOILY, SPOILERS. Go read the issue, then come back here and read on…
Cycles. Patterns. The Wicked + The Divine is full of them, from the 90 year cycle of the Pantheon’s manifestations, to recurring lines of dialogue. Laura’s final line this issue is almost identical to her line after Luci’s murder, for example. This issue sees a number of recurring themes and feelings. Especially feelings. (See also: Kieron is a Monster)
Unlike other issues in the series, 11 picks up almost immediately after 10. There’s no week-long gap here. The impression it gives is that events are building to a climax, that the huge moments are coming faster than before. From a practical standpoint 10 & 11 are essentially one issue. With so much ground to cover they simply could not have done it justice within a single issue’s page-count. Despite featuring just two scenes, this issue feels incredibly busy, in a good way. It’s built to a thundering crescendo here, although in typical style, Team WicDiv have a final swerve for us.
When we left our protagonists (I’m hesitant to call them heroes, given how messed up and shitty so many of them can be) Baphomet had resolved to kill Inanna, in an effort to glean a little longer on this earth. Poor, scared, manipulated Baphomet. So terrified of his impending mortality that he can’t see he’s being used. Weirdly, while Baphomet is acting like a dick, I like him whereas Cassandra has also been abrasive to people throughout and she leaves me cold.
The choreography of Baphomet and Inanna’s fight scene is wonderfully kinetic. I swear I had Sisters of Mercy’s “Temple Of Love” playing in my head as I read it. While much is said of Jamie McKelvie’s skill at drawing emotive and expressive faces, he’s also great at giving the readers great action scenes. There’s a balletic touch to the leaping and somersaults here, althoughBaphomet seems a little short on ideas, I feel: Using the same jumping, overhead swipe, move he tried last issue.
While I’ve consistently raved about Matt Wilson’s colours on the book throughout the run, I was disappointed with the effects used during Baphomet & Inanna’s fight, where Baphomet’s darkness is swallowing Inanna’s light. Using his power to prevent Inanna escape was a cool idea, but it just didn’t seem as effective as previous showings of the Pantheon’s power. It seemed a little flat visually. With that single exception, the rest of the book is typically glorious. I sincerely hope Matt wins the Eisner for Best Colourist this year; his work on The Wicked + The Divine, along with other titles including Thor and Daredevil, has been fantastic.
As stated above, the book focuses on two head to head scenes here, with the second being Laura and Ananke. After accepting her destiny, or lack thereof, last issue, Laura shows real growth. She’s made her peace with everything. Her story was about realising that being of the Pantheon comes with the ultimate price and she’s realised that maybe it’s not worth it. A far cry from her earliest appearance, where she wanted nothing more than to ascend and have two years of perfection irrespective of the cost.
LAST WARNING OF SUPER-MEGA-UBER SPOILERS (Don’t say I didn’t warn you)
Yes, just as you’d dealt with the death of Luci in issue 4, The Wicked + The Divine gives another gut-punch and kills the nicest god we’ve met to date. Inanna, we hardly knew ye. We half expected Inanna or Baphomet wouldn’t make it out of the issue, but the hits keep coming…
With Cassandra’s ascension in issue 9, the Godwheel was complete. All twelve gods had manifested for this iteration of the Pantheon and humanity would be illuminated for another generation, right?
Wrong. Ananke surprises Laura at her home and declares that she is the 13th god; Persephone. Persephone, you should remember, is the god who gets taken to the Underworld (Not the one in Camden) by Hades and even after being freed has to spend part of the year back there. It speaks volumes of Laura that her first response is unadulterated joy and a desire to tell Inanna. And then things take a turn for the worse.
Crikey. I didn’t see that coming. When I read the issue in the pub, I actually exclaimed, rather loudly, “Fucking hell!” and got a disapproving look from several patrons. Note to self, don’t read Kieron Gillen’s books in public. Emotional responses scare the norms. I commented last month that the cover of The Wicked + The Divine issue 11 would be a huge spoiler if they really were going to kill someone. Even Kieron Gillen agreed, but in his tricksy writer’s way he agreed that the cover would be a spoiler if they were killing *a* character. By my count we lose four characters this issue, possibly five if Laura’s sister was in the house too.
If you take issues 10 and 11 as one giant size issue then you realise that Laura may have been the reader’s POV character to begin with, but she was actually more of a gateway. We met the Pantheon when they were already manifest and performing. The story was in motion before Laura came along, and will keep going after this issue’s heartbreaking finale. The assassination attempt on Luci and Amaterasu really may have been just two fanatics, after all. (Although, were I a betting man, I’d not be surprised if Ananke had a hand in it)
Once I’d processed the events of the issue, I went back and re-read the whole run from the start. The clues have been there all along. Team WicDiv really have put together an incredibly layered book, where even a foreshadowed twist such as Inanna’s death is used to distract from an even bigger twist like Ananke murdering Laura.
No-one gets a happy ending, do they?
WicDiv Thoughts and Theories
Called it! Ananke is bad news. Now as to WHY has yet to be revealed, and there’s any number of motives that seem plausible right now. Does she ensure the Pantheon always die, so that she has a purpose in finding them anew? Does she want to break the cycle so she no longer has to be bound as their guardian? There’s some way to go in The Wicked + The Divine but I imagine her motivations will be revealed over time.
Laura’s monologue during her ascension and murder is written in the past tense. “I don’t remember anything after that. I guess I’m grateful” Which suggests, to me at least, that she may have survived in some way. Wishful thinking? Perhaps, but can you blame me?
13th god? There’s never been a 13th god, has there? If there had, it would have come up at Fandemonium or in one of the academic texts, surely. So, Ananke shows her hand here. She can make the gods, she doesn’t find them and help them ascend, she chooses them. We’ve suspected as much for a while. The Morrigan and Baphomet’s recent conversations play heavily towards this
Was making Laura into Persephone Ananke’s attempt at a joke? “You want to be a god? Here, be someone who goes to the underworld” or was that Gillen foreshadowing a potential return for Laura, down the line? Nothing is throwaway in The Wicked + The Divine, everything is there for a reason.
By murdering Laura’s parents, Ananke shows that she can use her powers against mortals, so what did she have to gain from raising Laura to godhood before murdering her? I’m guessing it’s to frame Baphomet. The Pantheon already know that he’s trying to kill them to extend his life, so it won’t be too hard to convince them he killed Laura. Ananke kills two birds with one click, so to speak.
Inanna is dead. We may not have seen a body, but his space on the Godwheel is now taken by a skull, just like Lucifer’s. Two down, ten to go. Baal is not going to take this well at all.