Monday, July 15, 2024

Seasonal Milan Entry: WicDiv’s Lovely Holiday Annual

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I am often told I would make a magnificent evil Santa by the way I laugh. I am also told I look quite a bit like Logan, though not as muscular. And my coat smells like pines most of the time. I believe this more than qualifies me to be a gift bringer for the occasion, alas a bit late for the accustomed tradition, but who’s counting? As with wonderful habits, such as exercise and moderate food and drink consumption, the Winter Holidays are an ideal time to take a break from some things. In this occasion, we’re taking a break off the current bitter-bitter tone in WicDiv. And thus, we take a jolly plunge into happier, more whimsical times, befitting of the season.

This means observing a bunch of vignettes surrounding the Pantheon at their most carefree and, perhaps even happiest. Naturally, this also means looking at things before the heads started going pop. Although, considering last issue, who knows if death is that final in the WicDiverse. True to the special’s intro by Kieron and Jamie, this holiday special involves a lot of fucking. All of it portrayed by a variety of talented guest artists ala the Commercial Suicide arc.

“Well done us”

As long as there is an axis of comparison, I always opt to talk about the bad first so we can end up with a sweet aftertaste. Though it is not a bad thing per se, there is not much of a holiday tone to the vignettes in this special. It’s not a big deal, but it is something of a clash when you consider the cover – basically one of the jumpers you hate wearing the rest of the 364 (or 365, if it’s a leap year or if you loathe happiness) days of the year. But leaving the contrast in theme and tone between presentation and content, it is a nice design decision. It’s intentionally simple, as opposed to Jamie and Matt’s usual style, but it is indeed holidays themed.

Now, on to the stories.

There isn’t that much to say in terms of relevance to the greater scheme of things. This is more of a fanservicey indulgence wherein we see interactions between the Gods (and pre-divinity Laura) without the sour taste of blood and doom. The first vignette features Baal and Inanna’s relationship, both emotional and physical. Upon reading, I must say it reminds a little of the film Moonlight. The setting and unabashed exposure of intercourse between Baal and Inanna shows some parallels with Barry Jenkins’ work. Not to mention, the contrast in demeanour between the two lovers is a heavy theme here, which casts massive ripples in WicDiv’s macro-narrative. This one is my personal favourite. Doesn’t mean the others aren’t good. I’m just mad about those nightly settings.

Interestingly, the final vignette is a call back and a foil to Inanna and Baal. The brief sexual encounter between Laura and Baal features a similar ambience, but none of the profoundness. Quite befitting of the time, as neither Laura nor Baal have matured much at this time. On the other hand, the brief talk between Laura and Lucifer in another brief vignette exhibits a tighter bond than that, quite akin to Baal and Inanna’s starlit romance.

The second vignette explores the spontaneous sexual interaction between Lucifer and Sakhmet. Atmosphere is way lighter here, more centered beneath daylight, which strips the scene from the romantic undertones and portrays it as an admitted fling for the hell of it. Considering both characters, it’s hard to imagine any deeper attachment between them. However, the emotional content is driven by a different device as Baal confronts Lucifer about her toying around with Inanna. In face of the drama, Sakhmet (wisely) decides not to involve herself with Lucifer anymore. Yet she still has the gall to call Luci a bad person. Some fine hypocritical humour right there.

And speaking of humour, the night when Bapho-met Dionysus (heh) doesn’t disappoint either. This is the most holiday-ish vignette in the special, as Umar (DIO WITH HAIR AND A BEARD?) picks up a hitchhiking Cameron on a rainy Christmas eve night, as you do. Cam manages to apall Umar and company with his puns (the worst he’s spoken) as they drive towards The Morrigan’s gig taking place that night. The rest is history, sad and abusive history. Highlights on this one are an early iteration of Dio’s famous (eventually tragic) altruism, and the fact that Baph hitched a ride under the rain just because he thought it kind-of-a-goth thing to do. A bit cringey, still nice though.

Next is a rare kind moment on behalf of Ananke, and an even rarer Tara appearance. In the midst of composing a song, Tara loses a little heart. As we know, her situation is not an easy one. She constantly lives between her desire to express her own artistry and everybody else’s expectations. Therefore, she goes to Ananke for counsel. The Goddess of Necessity is frank enough, but encourages Tara to do her own thing, regardless of anyone’s approval. Tara seems to have recovered some of her motivation and leaves with gratitude towards Ananke. Alone now, the latter remarks on the cruelty that comes with her kindness. If only Tara knew…

Finally, we learn about the friendship between Lucifer and Amaterasu, a most unlikely pair. If you were wondering how is it they could be friends, the answer lies in pre-Godhood. As normal teenagers, they’re free to just game the day away, talk about Ragnarok, and admire fanart. You know, the cool things one does less and less when adulthood comes and ruins everything. And then Godhood came, and it ruined everything, as Eleanor became one of the ‘cool kids’, too cool to hang around with Hazel. Then Hazel became Amaterasu, a fellow cool kid. Thus, Lucifer, ashamed, apologised, and friendship goes on. But things are not really that easy, are they? All in all, a bittersweet vignette, and perhaps one of the ‘realer’ ones.

And that’s it for these lovely little stories. Little scenes from simpler times. Try not to compare them to their current state of affairs; the contrast is brutal. Instead, let’s just take the best from it and acknowledge that the present time can be such a lovely thing that we may eventually yearn for it. Yeah, this is a double-edged concept, because the present times are pretty fucking rubbish. So, just have the things you like, and those you care for close around you, and love them. And in terms of cool things we can love, I’d say this was an amazing year. So, yes Lucifer, well done you, and well done us.

Take care, lovelies. And keep your head up for 2018.

The Wicked + The Divine: Christmas Annual Credits

Writer: Kieron Gillen

Art and Color: Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, Kris Anaka, Jen Bartel, Emma Vieceli, Chynna Clugston Flores, Carla Speed McNeil, Rachael Stott, Tamra Bonvillain

All images are courtesy of Image Comics

Dedicated to you

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