Monday, May 27, 2024

The battle begins in The Wicked + The Divine

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Except for last issue, which was a bit of respite in the middle of the tempest, this arc has been all action. You’d certainly expect that in a story about war and deception between gods. The Norns learning Ananke was also behind Inanna’s demise is the indisputable confirmation that everything, from the first issue, has led to this moment. By extension, the old lady may have been up to the same or similar shady business on Pantheons past.

Thus, we might see the divine vengeance hammering at Ananke’s doorstep as a much delayed comeuppance. For all we know, there hadn’t been a “Destroyer” of Persephone’s kind in previous recurrences. Countless variables go into preserving a formula, a custom, and procedure. This time, her efforts may all go to shit.

This issue’s cover features Woden’s Valkyries. Although they’re not part of the Pantheon per se, it’s still a fitting stylistic choice. Their warlike characteristic are quite suitable for the events that are about to follow. It’s time to storm the castle.

Issue #21
“Let’s go straight to the live show.”

We’re at Valhalla on the threshold of a grand event of Ananke’s design. We know that she is about to sacrifice Minerva, who lay in bed unconscious after her “rescue” from the Underworld. Amaterasu and Baal are with the child, concerned for her well-being. Mini’s parents, and Beth and her team of asshole ‘journalists’ are also present, which sours the ambience. Whatever notion of a quiet night they had crumbles to dust as Sakhmet brings word that the Underworld Gods have come. Baal goes to meet them at the gates. Persephone attempts parley one last time, but Baal’s gullibility about Ananke is still untarnished. This leaves no option but to launch the attack. Dionysus, Baphomet, The Morrigan, and Persephone unleash hell.

Once again, Baphomet takes on Baal, who still thinks him the murder of his love, Inanna. After a delightful and tasty bash with his flaming pole, the Nick Cave expy appeals to the lightning god’s reason through the heart by telling him Inanna’s last words. The god of stars loved Baal, and he never meant to hurt him. And for once, Baal appears to stop and weigh what Baph just told him. This hesitance is followed by the Valkyries’ flaming entrance as they charge to “STOP. THE. DESTROYER.” Despite Persephone’s combat skills, the armored ladies easily breach her defenses. However, before they can go in for the kill, usually-not-pugnacious Dionysus makes the save. He agrees to fight, but only if nobody dies tonight. Persephone agrees, partially.

Back in Minerva’s room, the little god wakes up. Amaterasu quickly reassures her that she’s safe, but Min—as always—knows better. Enter Ananke. Mini’s parents rush for a word with the goddess, but she murders them right there and then. Both Mini and Ami are horrified. The latter is neither weak, nor a poor fighter herself, yet she opts to escape as soon as Ananke looks in her direction. She could have taken Mini along, like she did when “rescuing” her last issue, but no. Why would she, the coward? And speaking of cowards, Beth and her staff survived by hiding behind the door. They may later prove useful if they caught the scene on tape. Regardless, the child is now ripe for Necessity’s scheme.

Meanwhile, the battle rages on. Winged Morrigan carries her boyfriend up to the entrance to the hallways of Valhalla. However Sakhmet takes her down as easily as a cat does a birdy. Although Baphomet is concerned for the Morrigan, there are more pressing matters at hand. Fortunately for him, Catwoman from Hell sees the trail left by Amaterasu’s escape as a red dot; so, like a cat, she chases the fuck out of it, entirely uncaring about anything else. Good going, you cowardly Amaterasu. I guess.

Anyway, Baphomet catches Ananke dragging Minerva away, but she overpowers him. Things look increasingly worse as she makes it to Woden’s chamber, to the machine she charged him with building. Woden is shocked about what Ananke means to do, especially since she told him Minerva was too young. But he didn’t consider that she would mean she was too young at the time. Now that she’s had her thirteenth birthday, Ananke can do whatever she wants with her.

It’s a disgusting line of discourse throughout, and she has to do the foul deed tonight, as several things are against her. Not only did she murder Minerva’s parents, destroying her credibility, but the Underworld Gods possess proof of her crimes via Mini’s Owly. Ananke then goes into a villainous speech about her intent. With Minerva’s sacrifice, she will be at the apex of her power. This will allow her to destroy all the gods, as she claims this has been a disastrous Pantheon.

Outside, the Underworld Gods have proven more than a match for Ananke’s lackeys and Woden’s Valkyries, but asshole spineless Woden has one more trick up his sleeve. A ‘Valkyrie’ unlike the rest, which absorbs the others, thus becoming a giant ‘Super Valkyrie X 2000’ (It’s not called that, but it may as well be). Interestingly, this new foe bears some resemblance to Thor‘s Destroyer. It will likely play a similar role, too. It’s going to be Persephone, Baphomet and Dionysus versus this thing. And although the Underground has a Destroyer of its own, will she be enough to breach this obstacle and save Minerva, after all the battling so far?

At that moment, in Woden’s chamber, Ananke has strapped Minerva into the machine. Now that this thing is active and working, we dread to see what fate will befall Minerva if their Goth friends fail to rescue her. By the looks of it, she has little time left. By now, we would sort of expect her to either gloat or look uncaring. Alas, she seems to be genuinely sorrowful about what she’s chosen to do. “It never ends”, she says.

What never ends, Ananke? Is it your perceived necessity to kill? Or could there be more to your words? The denouement approaches, lovelies, and there is no walking away. It doesn’t take much of a leap to know how little Persephone is willing to heed Dionysus’ words. Somebody will die.

All Images Courtesy of Image Comics

The Wicked + The Divine Issue #21 Credits

Writer: Kieron Gillen

Art / Cover: Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson

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