Wednesday, July 17, 2024

The Threats Spur Action in The Wicked + The Divine

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It can be refreshing to get back to the ordinary, even after a delightful long weekend where you got to try jai alai and some fancy hookah bar/bed bug circus. In much the same way, we are back on the main narrative of the doomed Gods, following a fantastic one-shot special and a neat-as-fuck experimental issue. Let’s do a quick recap of the events as a way of a warm-up. Every ninety years, twelve mortals become Gods only to die within two years. Their guide is old Goddess Ananke who survives them each time as per some ancestral pact to stop the ‘Great Darkness’. But oh dear, it turns out that she has been responsible for the deaths of Gods since forever. This time, the birth of a thirteenth God, Persephone, has stuck a wrench in her works.

And now, Persephone has murdered her in retribution for having murdered her family. The remaining Gods agree to cover up the murder as they make sense out of whatever time they have left. Now, let’s carry on.

Issue #24
“I wanted everything you had.”

New Year’s Eve is quite the festive time. The countdown is a zenith of enthusiasm for either the resolutions that will go unaccomplished or the sheer ambience of your surroundings. It’s really just a fun time to be alive, but not so much for the members of the Pantheon. The fireworks spectacle that welcome the first seconds of the year 2015 feature the faces of Lucifer, Inanna and Tara, which serves a twofold purpose. It’s both a tribute and a grim reminder that the rest of the Gods will join them soon. In the face of all this, a pensive Persephone has spent most of the party hanging by herself outside of the shard. A drunk, optimistic, festive Amaterasu joins her. Even though her presence is a counterpoint to grim Persephone, she still gives ‘Persy’ a New Year’s kiss.

The next morning, Persephone wakes up to Minerva’s judging gaze as the latter tells her not to hurt Baal. Confused as to the reason of these words, we find out that Persephone ‘spent the night’ with Sakhmet in Baal’s bed. It’s not a good look, considering how he took Inanna’s affair with Lucifer. Minerva, always the voice of reason, serves as her conscience, or attempts to anyway. Baal cares a lot about everything, and he’s still not over Inanna. Given Laura’s proximity to Inanna before she ascended, Baal tries to see some of him in her. So as to avoid some nasty fallout or too much emotional investment, he has agreed to an open relationship. But as time passes by, Persephone cares less and less about everything.

Every time, she’s further from the fundamental Inanna-ish quality that Baal seeks in Persephone. Kindness. In response, Persephone shows she’s been hanging too much with Sakhmet by slamming the door in Minerva’s face. Not a good look there.

She then gets a text message from Cassandra who wants to see her. Thus, Persephone rides out on her fancy motorbike. On the way, she meets up with a group of her fans, who’ve done their research on the Persephone’s cult and know they cannot call her by name (possible association to a text by Empedocles). So, she declares that she’s to be called ‘The Destroyer’. This assertion puts current Persephone miles away from pre-divine Laura. Nevertheless, she makes it to uninhabited Valhalla, the place where she murdered Ananke. Her expression at evoking the memory brings out an undecipherable expression in her face. The atmosphere around Persephone starts becoming somewhat oppressive.

Inside of Valhalla, Urdr and her fellow Norns have been hard at work dissecting the machine Woden created for Ananke. Actually, ‘hard at work’ might be a wee bit of an understatement; they missed out on New Year and didn’t even know it until Persy told them. Although Urdr has done most of the work and Persephone can’t give two shits about anything, the latter is still very willing to play her part in the very serious matter of learning what precisely was Ananke up to. As for the machine itself, even the Norns have failed to make much of a breakthrough on its functioning mechanisms. So in walks Woden’s rotten presence as per Urdr and Persephone’s summons.

Once more, he states that he never knew what the machine was intended for; otherwise he wouldn’t have made it. We know to take that with a grain of salt, but Urdr shifts the line of questioning towards something else. She has the bomb shell that crashed Persephone’s gig back in Issue #18. The fact that it would have killed the crowd if Persephone hadn’t cushioned it proves him complicit with Ananke in attempted murder. Persephone chimes into the questioning by constricting Woden’s accompanying Valkyries as a way of intimidation. It works… to an extent. He trumps the attempted murder accusation with footage of Ananke’s bloody murder at the vines of Persephone. Should anything happen to him, the footage would go public.

If he is to go down, all will fall with him. Now that stakes have been raised this high, Woden dares both Laura and Cass to do anything. In spite of his filthy villainous confidence, he may be overestimating himself as Persephone retorts by a very familiar finger gesture. No, it’s not the middle finger. It’s something that us regular-ass mortals can do with relatively little consequence (all depending on culture and geographical location, of course). It’s fingers about to snap – something far from harmless in the Gods’ habit. How does the song goes again? POP goes the Weasel’s… head?

This issue ends on somewhat of a cliffhanger. The notion of Woden’s death may bring a smile to one’s face, but there is a darker development at work. When she first resurfaced, Persephone owned up to the name of Destroyer as a measure against Ananke. But now, through her very quick willingness to kill, she may be proving the late baddie right. On perhaps a relatively lighter aspect, her mindless hedonism might be a response to finding that the gift she so wanted means little anymore, thus making the contrast between innocent fangirl Laura and Goddess of the Dead Persephone all the more tragic.

Her one link to her old humanity is friend and fellow deity Urdr, formerly known as Cassandra Igarashi. But will even she be able to reel in Persephone before she compromises the entire Pantheon? Of course, this also begs the question, if the authorities caught sight of the footage and opted to pursue the Gods, can jurisprudence truly have a hand against literal Gods? With members like Sakhmet and now Persephone in their midst, the Pantheon may not entirely comply peacefully. The Imperial Phase kicks off foreboding, Ladies and Gentlemen.

The Wicked + The Divine Issue #24 Credits

Writer: Kieron Gillen

Artists: Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson

All images are courtesy of Image Comics

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