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The Wicked + The Divine Yields Some Unpleasant Candour

The aftertaste from last issue may or not have worn out. Still, we’ll get a similar narrative formula in that we’ll see events from the perspective of an unpopular character. However, the effect won’t be the same, or even similar, and it’s essentially for one reason. We thought Tara was the worst, alas we never did know her until it was too late. We know Woden is a dick, but we don’t know just how bad he truly is. On this issue, we’ll centre around local asshole and possible Holocaust denier, Woden. With the initial pronunciation of the news of Tara’s death, he starts to speak his own story. Will this be a case of ‘unreliable narrator’? Let’s read and see.

Issue #14
“You’re not stupid, are you? Just evil.”

From what we can piece together this early in his story, there was a before and an after. The middle point, the crux of change, is the moment when Kerry (Brunhilde), his scorned Valkyrie, had a gun to his head back on Issue #7. Up until this point, he carried an impersonal disposition towards everything around him. However, the very real, solid, prospect of dying did well to shatter all this stance. We learn from his narration that he did feel rather deserving of what comeuppance he got. Whether it was because of his abuse towards everyone, or the fact that he knew Ananke was up to something. Worse even, he chose to cooperate.

Although the Commercial Suicide arc still goes on, Jamie McKelvie is back on the pens department for this issue. The halt on the guest artist gimmick may get some mixed reactions. Still, his style suits the aesthetic requirements for Woden’s monologue beautifully. A lot of what goes on in this issue is a reprisal of panels from issues past. However, these are rearranged (Re-re-mixed, as per the issue’s title) into a new narrative mode. These retrospectives thus, convey new meaning, through several examples. The notion of Kerry actually shooting him unveils a heavy mental burden in the God’s head, spanning all events regarding the Pantheon. This implies he’s been aware of every ramification to every event that has unfolded so far. Considering what we know now about Ananke, Woden has most likely proved a conspicuous informant. Though, speaking of Ananke…

Of the non-reused material we see in this issue, we see a secret conversation between she and Woden. This takes place after Minerva incapacitated Kerry, and it’s especially revealing about Ananke’s pragmatic villainy. Concerned about possible repercussions regarding the nasty Kerry episode, Woden goes to his evil mama for advice. She basically tells him to chill the fuck out since she’ll get the government to leave this business under Pantheon jurisdiction. It’s all subtle coercion, really—a thinly veined threat on what the Gods can do without her to keep them in line. Throughout this conversation, Ananke asks about Laura, who had been asking around. It may be that she’s sensing an early threat. Nonetheless, a more solid course of action surrounds Cassandra, who would eventually become Urdr.

Thusly, she has her minion chat up the journo during Dionysus’s party in Issue #8. What back then used to be concealed speech is now clear for us to read. The gist of it was extending an invitation from Ananke for an interview, this much we knew already. It’s worth noting that his discourse is essentially what you’d hear from a sleazeball with a silver tongue at a nightclub. Without godhood, Woden may well be a fuckboy or a false ally with an edgy verbal registry. However, he does manage to convey to her a most sincere part of him, a genuine misanthropy. We’re not faced with a straw nihilist unaware of his own folly. Woden is very self-aware of his own vices, but also those of the world that everybody inhabits.

Patriarchy, as he presents it, is not a rule of men, but a rule of fathers who would gladly lay waste to their offspring. I do believe this could derivative into a think-piece on the social dimension of modern politics, the generation schism about values, or capitalism. Alas, I must confess myself inadequate and this recap unsuitable for such a purpose.

Moving on, Cassandra takes up the invitation and becomes the twelfth God. Here is where things get a little creepy. His attention on Cass was not only sexual, but also full of purpose useful to Ananke. Although the new God had mad skills at finding the truth, she was full of ego and prejudice. Woden did some manipulation of his own to confirm these prejudices and keep the rest of the truth in the dark. And Urdr, although no longer in the journo position she had once, was still too short-sighted. The spark that ignited all was Lucifer’s trial, but it didn’t go quite as everybody thought it had.

Via a ring Woden had made and given to Amaterasu, Ananke, and Woden were witnessing the whole thing. At the precise moment Lucifer snapped her fingers to taunt the judge, Ananke did the same from her throne. This is how the judge truly died, by Ananke’s hand rather than Lucifer’s. The horrendous deed baffled even Woden. Miss Impunity, merely and nonchalantly remarked that it would all turn out well, and it usually does. Every action, every word she has ever said is quickly turning on itself. The implication surrounding this final remark sheds doubt even on her deeds before this Recurrence. We can only imagine to what extent will Ananke’s decisions reach. And even now, we don’t know her motivations. Woden himself doesn’t seem that either, but he cares none, so long as he gets what he wants.

His price is cheap, and disturbing. Although everybody believes he’s only into Asian girls, he disproves this from the safety of his facelessness. His fetish is girls dressed up as Gods he helped murder. The pages around this description are not necessarily explicit, but they convey effectively just how repulsive he essentially is. It’s disgusting to know a character who discards women as objects with such ease as he does. And it still makes for a magnificent hatred sink. I applaud the creators, for this can’t possibly have been easy to write. Yet, the worse is yet to come.

Fast forward to Ragnarock, and Baphomet’s on the loose. Through this recounting of events, Woden also proves to be a coward, as he huddled fearfully in Valhalla should the hellfire God come for him. He probably should have. More importantly, this is the moment after Ananke has killed Laura, and she’s ordering him to help hide the body. Here’s the golden moment when, for once, he actually hesitates, Although Ananke demands his obedience, his thoughts are speeding in a different direction. Thus, he talks back in refusal, which prompts a proper dressing down from Ananke. This verbal humiliation ensues by a reprisal of his “awakening” as a God. The words are pretty standard for all but him.

“You are of the Pantheon. You will not be loved. You will be hated. You should be hated. You are living shit.” She has little room to talk, but she’s not wrong.

This appears a proper reminder of the shit she has on him. He ends up complying. In proper villainous manner, Ananke speaks on events to unfold, on a war among the Gods. She must act quicker than she had anticipated, which leads to Tara’s murder. He knew she’d be the one to die when she turned up on last issue. Of course he didn’t do shit. This leads to a new problem. Enter the 1-2-3-4 motif that has haunted us since the first issue up until Laura’s death at the hands of Ananke. Lucifer, Inanna, Tara… there is a fourth death coming. His narration comes to an end, and it turns out that he was actually telling all of this to somebody. A Valkyrie.

Just who is the recipient of this revealing bundle of knowledge? What is the purpose of this confession? Whichever the answers to these questions, they may only stand dwarfed in comparison to Ananke’s endgame. Perhaps we could discard the possibility of Woden being an unreliable narrator. After all, what we do know of the mean old lady’s doings yields solid plausibility. We have little reason to like Woden, and little to doubt him as well. Something is about to go down.


The Wicked + The Divine Issue #14 Credits

Writer: Kieron Gillen

Artist / Cover: Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson

All images courtesy of Image Comics

 

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Devotee of coffee, whiskey and baleful sentiment. I also write a lot of things.

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