Published on September 13th, 2015 | by Dapper Dan0
The Wicked + the Divine 14 – Comic Review
1, 2, 3, 4… And once again, we return. As always, here be spoilers.
The latest issue of The Wicked + The Divine proves an interesting counterpart to last month’s chapter. As you’ll remember, Tara had chosen death over continued godhood in the face of relentless abuse and harassment. Dark stuff indeed, and one of the really pointed moments in the book was Woden’s casual comment on Tara’s appearance. This issue, Kieron Gillen really gets under the skin/neon bodysuit, of the Pantheon’s resident misogynistic misanthrope.
We’ve always known that Woden is skeevy. The other gods find his coterie of statuesque “Valkyries” to be pathetic. We’ve seen how he treats them, in “Fandemonium”. We’ve heard the disdain he has for pretty much everyone around him. What we didn’t know was quite how much of a piece of shit he is. In a book where pretty much every character has been selfish and manipulative, Woden excels above and beyond anyone, bar Ananke. He’d probably appreciate it and feel proud of such an accolade. “And the award for biggest asshat goes to…” The really unsettling and scary aspect of Woden’s personality isn’t that he’s an ignorant MRA, it’s that he knows he’s being a monster and He. Doesn’t Care. As far as he’s concerned he does what he likes because he can. There’s no misguided sense of entitlement, just one man indulging his peccadilloes in anyway he sees fit, with no consequence.
Continuing “Commercial Suicide”s theme of having different art on each chapter, this issue is a visual remix. Woden is the Maker in the Pantheon so here his creativity is shown in the form of remixing his memories and encounters to an unseen audience. Everything has been recoloured in a striking, lurid flurry of neon. Shades of Warhol’s style, among others, maybe?
Told mostly in the form of flashbacks, McKelvie has used snippets of earlier issues here, sometimes for different situations. Woden’s arrogant strut away from Cassandra, in the final panel of page 14, is from the moment in issue 7 where he walks away from a broken Kerry, also the final panel of page 14. So while we do revisit earlier moments, we are seeing some of them from new angles. It’s a very cool idea and executed well. It doesn’t feel like we’re getting the comic equivalent of one of TV’s notorious clip-shows, we’re getting a new chapter that’s full of key reveals.
If Amaterasu is Stevie Nicks/Florence Welch, and Baal is Tinie Tempah/Kanye West, then Woden is the producer rather than artist. He’s Daft Punk by way of Phil Spector. He’s behind the scenes, making things happen and helping others look better than they are. He’s creative for sure, but needs other’s input to harness his abilities.
It struck me as quite a brave move, combining the experimental art style with such an important chapter in The Wicked + The Divine. This issue has a number of big moments, including the reveal of who killed the judge back in issue 1. (To be honest, if you look back at the book to date only one character has been shown making people’s heads explode, so it’s not a massive shock). Way back in issue 4, Woden gave a lightning bolt fetish to Baal. I said at the time that seemed unusual, and here we get the truth of it; Woden’s gifts to the Pantheon are used to spy on them. The surprise is that Ananke uses them primarily, not Woden. If there’s one thing to take away from The Wicked + The Divine it’s not to trust people wearing masks.
Of course, the biggest twist is on the final page, where we find Woden has been talking to someone we’ve never seen before. Someone Ananke would be very angry to discover and who Woden cares about. One obvious response is to assume the pink speech bubble denotes that the character is female, and potentially someone we’ve seen before. That’s not just sexist, it’s wrong too. Woden is a maker, and he knows that Ananke makes the members of the Pantheon. There’s no cosmic destiny at play, just the machinations of a millennia old witch who doesn’t want to lose her power. What if Woden has worked out how Ananke creates the gods and has created one of his own? Someone far smarter than me pointed out that the horned helmet could be a Loki, after all Gillen has previous experience with him…
The Wicked + The Divine continues to forge ahead with no loss of momentum. Gillen & McKelvie have created a juggernaut here that shows no sign of stopping. If you’re not already on board, pick up the first two collections and dive right in.