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Kori is an entertainment writer and Managing Editor at the Fandomentals. In her spare time, she is a Buckaroo Banzai enthusiast, lover of Eurovision, and Yanni devotee.

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The Wicked + The Divine: An Old Spanner in the Works

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As we run out of issues to review, the big picture in WicDiv starts becoming clearer. It usually works that way with stories that work on basis of enigma. This tends to be rather bittersweet, and that’s just when the writers do it competently. So far, addressing Kieron Gillen’s writing as merely ‘competent’ is an understatement that could earn you a slap and a curse on your family. (Yeah, I introduced my beloved, though slightly wacky ex, into WicDiv — with lovely results). The only thing that could ruin the flow would be an ass-pull.

Here’s hoping…

Anyway, this week we shall see the truth revealing a wee bit brighter to our enthralled, divinely besotted eyes. Will we see blood? Wil we see tears? Both, maybe? Spoilers ahead, loves.

Issue #38
“Of course they can’t resist it.”

We begin today with a little audience taking place in Devonshite, England in 1944, between poet Robert Graves and a lovely Miss Anna White – the same woman featured in this issue’s cover. Following a generous helping of whiskey, Anna White goes into detail about the Gods, especifically those famous foundational three, the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone. The writing to her lines is quite peculiar. Her words to Mr. Graves are fairly clear and revealing, but to us knowledgeable readers, they’re rather ambiguous and even kind of misleading. She identifies herself as the giver of godhood and inspirer of iconography, but she vaguely distances herself from too direct a role by speaking of the three women as her Sister’s Gods.

By her admitted aversion to the dark and our experience, we know that Anna White is Ananke. (I mean, the name and facial structure are kind of a giveaway) Or rather, Minerva on her way to becoming Ananke. Regardless, who we see here is essentially our Ananke when younger. It’s sometimes difficult or even off-putting to see our loathed villains exhibit a lighter facet to their characters. But I do quite enjoy whiskey-drinking Ananke, and I’d like to see more of her, please.

Anyway, this is the ‘fateful’ night that would inspire Robert Graves’ essay The White Goddess, published four years later. The event was referenced in an early issue. Several years later, during a colloquium in 1957, Robert Graves speaks of The White Goddess, falsely attributing his ‘enlightenment’ to a spontaneous obsession while also downplaying Ananke’s role, landing her in a mere, ethereal role of muse. Naturally, Anna White, who attended the event is not pleased about his betrayal for the sake of academic cred. She may be the baddie here, but I sympathise. Forgot that.

Fast forward to 2013. A child appears amidst a field of flowers in England. She resembles the same child who ‘lived’ through ninety years of darkness after a botched ritual back in Egypt, as seen in the previous issue. This appears to be our Minerva, who is well in collusion with Ananke even before her flashy ‘ascension’, after which she was adopted by her parents, and we just about know the rest on that. We also get a look into some behind-the-scenes scheming to tie loose ends. Therefore, we could never trust Minerva, not even from the beginning. Minnie and Annie, they were pulling the strings all along the way.

Another fast forward to the present day, we get another unpleasant alliance between the other baddies to the story. Woden meets up with Cass’s old crew, a bunch of nobodies whose names I already forgot, who use the magic of editing to further discredit Urdr. That’s right, there was tampering to paint her Cassandran Truths. Woden, joined by Minerva, go have a chat with the imprisoned Norns. Minerva plays the scared bargaining chip role to encourage Urdr’s cooperation. Woden requires her to divine the location of the remaining Gods. Loud swearing ensues — isn’t Cass just the best?

A bit later, Woden and Minerva “find” the Heads. Luci, Inanna, and Tara, still alive, with carvings on their faces and sewn lips. There’s also Sakhmet’s dead head. Creepy shit, that is, but Minerva’s evil grin takes the prize on that scale. Her expression hints that she wants Woden to try and touch any of that “gunk stuff”. Doing so would probably help her agenda… but are we not curious to see what indeed would happen? And if we wanted a suitable guinea pig for it, who better than asshole spurious God Woden?

Down in Highbury and Islington, Baphomet — who now decides to go by his original name, Nergal — mourns over The Morrigan’s body. Persephone urges Nergal to carry her body along if he must; they have to get moving further into the Underground. Despite the bitter, abusive tone of their relationship, Nergal’s grief strikes true. Even his motions seem to run on pure automatic response, as noted by Persephone’s inner monologue. Eventually, they reach depths Persy has never seen before: the humble abode of Nergal and The Morrigan. Well, if an underground cathedral can be called ‘humble’.

To their surprise, Marian’s body starts levitating, Next to her, we see her personae of Babd and Gentle Annie. Something is about to occur, and Nergal advises Persephone to leave, for her own sake. Before she complies, though, she reveals to him that she’s pregnant. Nergal’s response is committing enough. Whether as friend or as other half to this circumstance, he will do all he can. But at this moment, his decision takes priority: he will finish this temple to his dead girlfriend…whatever that actually means. Laura’s inner monologue, and her emotional response by extension, is vague.

Later, Minerva visits Baal in the burned ruins of Valhalla. The latter summoned a load of rain to put out the fire. It’s a dreary scene, much like the overall landscape of events. Judging by their dialogue, Baal thinks Minerva is innocent. Well, he was away for plenty of the events to this arc. In this obliviousness, he confesses that he could not bring himself to kill Laura, and that she’s pregnant. Now, this second thing is absolute news to Minerva. And judging by her freaked out expression (priceless), this is a big NO NO.

Back in the Underground, Persephone has a lonesome moment of reflection. She thinks on the things that have happened, all originated from their foolish desire to become Gods, despite knowing they were doomed. It’s a painful reflection, tragic even, since they chose to hold on to this poisoned chalice. And her expressions throughout flawlessly reflect her heartache. Laura’s cellphone is done for, so she wanders around the dark, arriving at her and Sakhmet’s old abode, where she finds a still functioning phone.

She sends Cass a text. It’s a well-wishing as well as a warning about Baal and Woden, the latter of whom reads the text out loud to Cass, since she’s his prisoner. The sum of it all sounds like a farewell, really. Suddenly, an alarmed Minerva runs in, urging Urdr to divine where Persephone is. At first, Urdr refuses to help Woden find Persephone. She won’t do it, not even when Woden puts a gun to her head – turn the gun to the other Norns, though… and Cass complies. The three Norns work their magic to look for Persephone, but despite their efforts, all they see is Persephone gone.

It’s not that she’s in the Underground and reception is rubbish down there. No. Persephone does not exist.


The Wicked + The Divine Issue #38 Credits
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Art / Cover: Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson
Images courtesy of Image Comics

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Extermination Sets Up The Best Mutant Event In Recent Memory

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For over a year now the Mutant universe within Marvel has been going strong. It’s mostly separated from the going ons in the rest of the Marvel Universe, which, based on individual perspective, can be either a blessing or a hindrance. Either way, X fans have rejoiced in the multitude of titles out there catered to anything or anyone they’d want to read about. With over ten different series and mini series currently on shelves, there’s something for everyone…I feel like I’ve mentioned this somewhere before. Yet, all good things come to an end as we’re often told. In the next month, we will be seeing the end of the two series that launched this event: X-Men Blue and X-Men Gold.

However, their ends will not go quietly, as they are also released with a greatly hyped event: Extermination. Like many Mutant events, the stakes are always high and stories are also just as fantastic. With instant classics like House of M, Messiah Complex, Age of Apocalypse, and The Dark Phoenix, it’s only natural that we expect the best. Two issues in, Extermination certainly does not disappoint whatsoever. Beware, spoilers for Extermination #1 &#2 are ahead.

All Roads Lead to Extermination

Like the old Roman adage, the saying is true here. As with most of Marvel’s long standing series, the culmination of events leads up to something major. In this case, Blue and Gold have been hinting at this for quite sometime. The reemergence of Rachel Grey’s marks let us all know something was coming. Though I don’t read any of the side series, I’m sure all of them have at some point played a part in what’s to come with this mini series, especially considering everyone has come out for the party. In the second issue, we see a gathering of nearly everyone in the wake of Cable’s death: all of the main series colored teams, Domino, and the former X-Force.

Notably absent were all the villains who managed to get away time and time again in their respective main series. The young X-men have certainly not seen the last of Miss Sinister, Bastion, or their currently enraged mentor, Magneto. I digress, but if his current insanity makes it into this event I will literally explode from the fan service display…but back to the point. Neither have we seen an end to Cassandra Nova. What remains true is not all is what it seems in this comic, and I’m both excited and frightened to see what’s to come.

There’s Already a Body Count…

The first issue made an impression by hitting hard, and there’s no easy way to say it. Bloodstorm, a vampire version of Ororo Monroe, became a fan favorite when she was brought over from another Universe to join up with the young X-Men. While the early fight and severe heart rip revealed one of two major enemies in this event, we paid for it in tears. Not only had Scott told his feelings to Bloodstorm but he learned they were also requited. For me, this had two emotional impacts. For one, it showed that Scott was not going to allow himself to be a prisoner to fate. This was seen in their own series as well; the whole Scott and Jean romance was something of the past and showed that not only the characters, but also the writers were willing to usher in a new start. Even if it was at the cost of an amazing character.

The attack on Scott and Bloodstorm was orchestrated by Ahab from Rachel Grey’s time, and he was really only after Scott. Of course the implications here are clear, time travel is involved, which means there’s something in the future coming that the bad guys don’t like. Yet, it can’t really be all that simple can it? Ahab is shown to not be the only time traveling villain in this book, nor the only one after the Young X-Men.

The first issue begins with a cloaked figure in some distant future among rubble and dead X-Men. He mentions that an old bastard screwed it up. By the end of the first issue this mysterious cloaked figure actually manages to kill the almighty Cable and take the younger Bobby Drake, and is revealed to be a much younger Cable. Later in the second issue, he manages to strike again, this time incapacitating young Hank and disappearing away with Angel. His actions are clear but his motives are still quite unknown. He wants the young X-Men, but for what reason is still a mystery. In the final panels we see him with Bobby, Angel, and what looks like a bone saw, which can mean nothing good.

The rest of the mutants can’t catch a break either. After Angel is taken, the mansion is attacked not long after by Ahab and his hounds. The fight is action-packed but short and one sided as we almost see Rachel Grey herself fall. It is also revealed that Old Man Logan is a hound now? I didn’t really understand that part very well. Has Ahab found a way to brainwash people quickly? Has Logan been like this the whole time? I guess we’ll have to wait for issue three for that.

Extermination has not attempted to give us answers unless they’re the ones that are straight-forward, so essentially the who and and not the why. We all know that Ahab is bad news and the fact that he’s got Old Man Logan in his ranks now only increases his threat. But why now? Why appear in the midst of this chaos? It’s the same questions with young Cable. It’s obvious that older Cable screwed something up, but what was it? Why is he after the young X-Men? Is it because they’re not in their right time?

The questions are endless and I, for one, can’t wait to see them answered.


Images Courtesy of Marvel

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Turf Wars Is What It Is

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There’s no hiding it—most of us here at The Fandomentals haven’t been particularly taken by the debut graphic novel trilogy for The Legend of Korra. We love Korrasami, of course, so it rocks to see more of them individually and as a couple. We love all these characters and love seeing more of them. LoK is a Fandomentals favorite for a good reason, and we still end up talking about it after all this time. So trust me when I say that the last thing I want to write here is that I’m entirely indifferent to Turf Wars. And quite a bit disappointed by my indifference.

But here we are, and here I am. Turf Wars…basically just exists. I guess it’s up to each individual person to decide if that’s enough.

A Rougher Landing Than I Would’ve Liked

You know what, let’s be honest. Turf Wars exists because Korrasami was incredible and validating and people wanted more. I certainly did. So the idea was to give us more Korrasami. And…that’s basically the only thing Turf Wars does. It gives you Korrasami moments.

I might be okay with that if everything around Korra and Asami, and their characters, too, weren’t such a hot mess. With part 3, Turf Wars basically confirmed every worry I had after my review for part 2. I hate to be so bluntly negative about it, but the plot for this trilogy disappointed me on just about every level.

I don’t think it’s bad, by any means. Just…unremarkable. There’s really nothing here I would recommend outside of Korrasami moments and what I hope is an introduction to larger Jargala involvement in future LoK graphic novels. Part 3 basically functions as a large action scene as Korra tries to rescue Asami and together they stop Tokuga. Hey, nothing wrong with that. Give the people what they want.

It just didn’t do it for me. Tokuga was never much of a threat to Korra. I found it hard to really invest myself in what was happening. Then again, I admit this has as much to do with my own adjusted expectations following the first two volumes as it did with anything Turf Wars part 3 did wrong. In the end, I just didn’t care all that much.

As indifferent as I was throughout part 3, though, I was also bitter to see Turf Wars fulfill so many of my biggest worries after part 2. How does the presidential election go down? Raiko does something scummy, Zhu Li has one hero moment, and that’s it. Zhu Li wins. What happens with the spirits? Basically nothing. Korra says a couple lines and they go back and there you go. Tokuga has some randomly evil plot so he can be some completely one-dimensional villain for the heroes to beat.

Turf Wars set up like 4 or 5 different plots, tried to cram them into one climax, and they all suffered for it.

I was pretty sure going in that Tokuga would turn out this disappointingly, but I’m still disappointed. I felt literally no tension from anything he did. When Korra says that she and Asami have been in tough spots but that this feels different, I totally agree…just not in the way she meant. That line is meant to imply that this feels more threatening than usual. Yeah, no. It was different in that I literally felt no danger towards anyone.

Tokuga was a character that would have worked if the spirit portal plot existed alone. There could have been genuine exploration of what the spirits did to him and what that meant for the new spirit portal in Republic City. What happened to him was messed up. He could have used consolidation of the Triads as a power base for an actual run at Raiko’s presidency. He could have gathered the masses against the spirits and made Korra serve as the bridge between the human and spirit worlds.  There also could have been further opportunities for Tokuga to actually do things building him up as a threat.

Instead he was just stock-issue evil guy who nearly poisons the city. Except you never feel like he had any chance of succeeding.

I will admit to being wrong about one thing—I thought Asami would have nothing meaningful in part 3. I assumed her role was to be rescued by Korra. She not only escaped on her own, she basically prevented Tokuga’s plot by herself. After a part 2 that saw a…different interpretation of Asami, it was good to see her act more like herself. She got a moment about her father, finally. She used her engineering smarts to save the day (and crashed another vehicle).

As disappointed and ultimately indifferent as I am with Turf Wars part 3, I’m glad to see this Asami again. By far my biggest problem with part 2 was her and Korra. They both felt so out of character.

(Maybe she sweated out all the alcohol she consumed in part 2? It was hot enough to frizz even Asami’s perfect hair. I think this theory has value.)

Still, what exactly was the growth or character arc here, for either of them? That they eventually say they love each other? As squee-worthy as that moment may be, we already knew that. And I’m not going to put that moment down. Two women said they love each other romantically in a graphic novel aimed at a young audience; that’s important and I love it. Hooray for happy wlw endings! Does it constitute a character arc, though?

I don’t believe so. Neither Korra or Asami faced any new challenge or circumstance forcing them to change or learn anything new. They’re the exact same people they would have been if Turf Wars didn’t exist. When the two characters these comics literally exist for don’t undergo a character arc, that’s a problem. And it’s a problem emblematic throughout the entire trilogy.

Did any character have a character arc? Even one? Bolin and Mako sure don’t. The airbenders don’t. Korra and Asami kind of do, but without much execution or actual arc involved. Tokuga might honestly have the closest thing to a character arc, where he devolves into Bond-esque villainy. Zhu Li ends up in a vastly different position compared to the beginning of Turf Wars, but there was no arc involved. She just ends up president without any real strife to overcome or development involved. She functions as a plot device, rather than having anything happen that actually makes her act the way she does.

Actually, you know who had the most character development? Keum. He had a pretty substantial journey from money-grubbing CEO building a Spirit Wilds amusement park to good guy helping protect the Spirit Portal.

The ultimate goal of any good story should to make some point or define some character. If your story involves returning characters, then you need to do something that further defines what we already know. Something needs to change. However you feel about The Legend of Korra as a whole, you never doubted the larger growth and character arcs involved. Every season contributed to the development of everyone featured.

Even Asami, as sidelined as she could unfortunately be for fans of hers, always walked away from each season in a different place than when she started. Book 1 firmly plants her on Korra’s side and puts her in charge of her company. Book 2 has her struggle with these developments. Book 3 grows her relationship with Korra. Book 4, as frustratingly limited as it might feel as a fan, deals with her abandonment issues as she navigates the return of both Korra and her father.

I feel like this type of development would be especially in focus within Turf Wars when one of the selling points of the trilogy was Korra and Asami’s relationship. How did this relationship change them? What does it mean for their lives? Is there anything here they haven’t been through before that changes who they are? Anything that informs on them in some new way?

I don’t believe so. Maybe others disagree with me. But in my case, it seems like a huge missed opportunity. Part 3, despite featuring a lot of Korra, makes her feel almost invisible to me. She has no function within this volume outside of fighting Tokuga and telling Asami she loves her.

Overall, I wonder what storyline here had any real point to it? Again, this falls back on the decision to try and fit so many storylines into three volumes. Maybe there was some larger point they intended to make with Turf Wars, but whatever it was, it fell flat or didn’t exist.

I mentioned in my review for part 2 how each of the various subplots could have carried their own trilogy, or even mixed together. The Triad storyline and the presidential election could fit together. Tokuga and the spirits could, with a dose of Korrasami mixed in. Whatever we think of its plausibility, the homophobia mentioned in part 1 could have mixed in with any of this, as Korra and Asami deal with public perception of their relationship and how it hurts their efforts in any of these storylines.

Instead none of this came together. Homophobia flat out didn’t exist past the first comic, so what was the point of mentioning it? Tonraq is called out for not supporting Korra’s relationship, I guess, even though that’s literally the exact opposite of what happened. If you’re going to bother injecting homophobia into the LoK universe, you need to follow up on it. The Creeping Crystals kind of matter, but not really. Mako and Bolin might as well not exist (with Bolin not even speaking for almost the entirety of this issue). The presidential election was half-hearted and poorly executed. So was the spirit plot and the airbender protest.

And does anyone even remember that Republic City is destroyed and thousands of refugees need homes? Talk about dropping a storyline like a ton of bricks.

Really, the only intention here seemed to involve getting everyone at the spirit portal for Tokuga’s poison gas to threaten them. Once that happened everything else just fell away. Though I’d also say the theory of Varrick engineering everything seems more plausible. Oh sure, he just happens to have a docu-mover crew there to see all this go down, all coincidentally. Right.

Even the character interactions, which gave me some genuine enjoyment in the first two parts, were relatively nonexistent for part 3. Everything was so centered on Tokuga’s threat that everyone else played a backseat. Even Korra did, as she was basically just chasing Tokuga around to save Asami. And when I didn’t buy into Tokuga as a threat, well…I’m probably not going to buy in to this volume all that much. I’d have rather watched Asami design apartment buildings while Korra dealt with the displaced masses. But maybe I’m weird like that.

Plus there’s not really much of an ending to anything. The spirits basically confirm that they will be back. Tokuga is still around and will be back unless he’s so unpopular that they drop him. Raiko’s last panel is him staring out a window in a way you can read either as resignation or scheming. Republic City is no closer to being rebuilt than before. It hurts when there was no real resolution to so many of the plots throughout the trilogy.

The presidential race has an ending. Korra and Asami, too. That’s about it. Turf Wars was all about Korrasami moments. I suppose your mileage depends on how much you care about everything else compared to those moments.

Is It Enough?

You know what? It is not my place to say whether this is really enough or not, because this comic wasn’t made just for me. Hell, it wasn’t made for me at all. Turf Wars was created for those tearful fans posting reaction videos on YouTube in the aftermath of the LoK finale. It was meant for the people who sent Bryke the Korrasami Project. From what I see, they love Turf Wars.

Whatever my opinions about it, I’ll leave the ultimate judging to those fans. This was a love letter to them, a thank you for all the love poured Bryke’s way by a very grateful community. The reaction to Korrasami was so genuine, emotional, and thankful that it couldn’t help but pull fringe supporters like myself in. I can’t even imagine how it felt for Bryke and everyone who worked on LoK to receive such overwhelmingly positive support in the aftermath of the finale.

If they want to give back to those fans and worry about everyone else later, good for them. I fully accept that. Not everything has to be aimed at everyone. Sometimes, a story exists just for certain people and if they like it, that’s all that matters. It’s unequivocally awesome to have Korra and Asami’s relationship so out there now, with kisses and I Love Yous and a complete lack of ambiguity. It always matters to have more representation.

My feelings on Turf Wars are no ultimate judge of the trilogy and in no way are meant to invalidate those who love it. I’m so, so happy for everyone who does. If everyone else can have flawed entertainment aimed at them, then why not the LGBTQ+ community as well?

Ultimately, Turf Wars is what it is; a relatively stress-free comic with a lot of flaws that aimed to give Korrasami fans more of the couple we love. On that end, it delivered. We got their Spirit World vacation, the reactions of those close to them, confirmed lesbian Kya and bisexual Kyoshi, Korrasami kisses, proclamations of love, and a final volume that saw both women work together to take down the bad guy.

If there was one major regret about Korrasami in the aftermath of the Book 4 finale, it was the missed chance to really make Korrasami explicit. Both Bryke and the fans lamented missing the chance to end with a kiss and permanently shut up everyone who spent 4 seasons mocking the idea of Korrasami. Now we have the kiss and then some. Korrasami was a trailblazer in LGBTQ+ representation in children’s media and TV as a whole, and Turf Wars was a nice capping point on the reality of their relationship.

This may not be satisfying for everyone. I can’t say it satisfied me. But again, that’s not the point. I wasn’t the one Turf Wars set out to satisfy. Have fun, Korrasami fans. This one was for you. Here’s hoping we get more LoK and Korrasami soon, and also that the recently announced next trilogy will shore up Turf Wars’s flaws.


Images courtesy of Dark Horse Comics

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