We’ve now caught up to the series with the next two issues in Raven: The Pirate Princess. If you’d like a review of the most recent issue, #7, you can read my review here. For now, let’s see how our favorite half-elf is faring under the sea.
Issue #5: The Kiss
a.k.a “lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice”
This issue begins on the mysterious island where Sunshine has found herself after landing in the drink. Why is she here? Who is this queen? It’s been a month, what’s she been up to? No time for all that! We have to use the Mirror of Galad…I mean Ursula’s Cauld…no I mean Queen Pavarti’s scrying pool to check on our friends back on the ship.
There, Ximena is angsting over her relationship with Raven after the loss of sunshine. The rest of the crew is taking part in a pullup contest between Raven and Katie, which Raven wins with gusto. She and Ximena are gay for a while until Ximena drops the bombshell: she wants to learn to fight. Their eventual near-kiss (there’s so many of those in this comic) is ruined by a lighting strike! But it is not the sea being moved by Sunshine’s antipathy towards Ximena, but by her own magic! Which she now has. The scene shifts back to the mysterious island where the irate queen casts Sunshine out of her palace for her inadvertent magic use. She mopes on a bench until she judo flips a mysterious girl, who asks her to dance.
Returning to the ship without the conceit of the mirror, the new drama is a poem that Dezzie has found. The embarassing poem, read aloud to the crew, is addressed to Quinn, who angrily storms out after an impassioned speech about acceptance. But it turns out that the poem was written by Zoe. Finally confessing her affection for Quinn, the two finally kiss at the end of the issue.
I enjoyed the relationship drama of the issues, as I’ve largely resigned myself to this shift in focus for the comic. The art has shown a marked improvement from the last few issues, perhaps due to a more diversified art staff. The Zoe/Quinn relationship is perhaps my favorite out of all of them, with the perfect mix of angst and fluff without too much contrivance to accomplish either. The Sunshine/Ximena/Raven triangle, by contrast, is becoming more and more of a relic as Ximena and Raven get plenty of good moments while Sunshine whines about it.
The shift from the island to the ship is a strange one. We know Sunshine’s ok, but we don’t know anything about the month she’s spent on that island. We find out her side of things next issue, but for now it just seems kind of odd. Especially since it gets so little focus compared to the next issue.
Issue #6: The Heart of the Sea
a.k.a “Happy, huh?”
We finally find out where Sunshine is. She has been rescued by a gay mermaid, as if there is any other kind, and taken to the island of Queen Parvarti. Sunshine is part of the Queen’s “collection” of women rescued from death at sea. It’s sort of a Flying Dutchman but for women. Also not dead. Maybe.
In any case, Sunshine is acclimating very well to the island thanks to Ananda, the girl she flipped last issue. The two go dancing, share dinner, and have a flirty time in Ananda’s garden. They share their origins and bond atop a romantic waterfall. It all seems idyllic. But when night falls, a gap appears. Ananda is not just a kind soul here to help. She was in fact sent to Sunshine by Queen Pavarti. A spy? A genuine attempt to help them both? Sunshine, and the reader, is unsure.
I had much less to recap this issue as there just wasn’t so much. This is one of those slowed down issues, where it’s very talky and introspective. As I alluded to, this really should have swapped with the last issue. I love flashbacks, but when its such a short time as this it may as well have just happened.
In-issue, Sunshine’s internal monologue is hilarious as much as it is heartfelt. I loved how she shut down whenever someone pretty looked at her or kissed her. Her emotions seem to be a bit scattered as she shifts from sad to in-love to happy and worried over the space of a few hours. Ananda is kind of bland, sadly, but she’s sweet enough that she’ll be able to fill her role helping Sunshine heal with gusto.
The biggest quibble is the thus far unaddressed issue of the Queen’s “collection.” I commend Raven for not going the Steven Universe route and making the literal ownership of people some kind of fun quirk as opposed to something worrying, but it’s only very briefly touched on as a problem. I know it’s not dealt with next issue, but there’s still time.
The only big problem with these issues is the order of them. Issue #5 doesn’t justify the scenes with Sunshine outside of a Little Mermaid shout out and a way to yet again interrupt Ximena and Raven’s kiss. Plus, the story about the island is so much cooler than the relatively mundane drama on the ship. Why would I care about a high-school drama about misplaced poems, albeit a well done one, when there’s an ISLAND OF MAGIC GAY MERMAIDS! Like, that is such a neat idea and there’s so many places it can go. But, inevitably, we’ll be back on the ship next issue to continue the dating drama.
These issues also confirm my fears that there’s a long lull happening in this part of Year 2, which will reach its zenith in the doldrums of Issue #7. However, the character writing from Whitley is still top tier, and I really do find myself enjoying the fights, make-ups, near-kisses, and snark coming out of the characters. I just kind of wish the adventure of it all got more attention.
If anything in the above review interested you, you can pick up digital copies of Raven the Pirate Princess on Comixology , and collected physical editions on Amazon. If you’re already a fan, you can spread the word about Raven on social media and to your friends! Share this review with them! Review the book on Amazon or at other retailers. Issue #8 of Raven: The Pirate Princess drops on the 23rd of May, and is available for pre-order today!
Images courtesy of Action Lab
Fireside Fandomentals Discusses Comicsgate
The Wicked + The Divine: An Old Spanner in the Works
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.
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.
“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
Extermination Sets Up The Best Mutant Event In Recent Memory
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  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.