Monday, July 15, 2024

The Wicked + The Divine Burns Bright and Destructive

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Thus far the cover of each issue has hardly been a foreshadowing on anything concerning the plot. With the exception of (fucking) Tara, whose feature shines through her absence, all we know through each cover is which God we’ll be meeting. It’s not such a case this time as Baphomet’s feature clearly hints at a more violent flavour. As a whole, I’d say this particular styling is an indication of a new direction in terms of pacing. At first, WicDiv appeared to us a fantasy allegory on the idealization of celebrities with a brushing of mystery and death to give it some direction.

The consequence of this first stage was Lucifer’s death, leaving a couple of vitally placed loose ends, but otherwise ending succinctly. These loose ends have led us towards a pursuit in the dark. We didn’t know much else until last issue where Ananke yielded some tasty exposition on the Pantheon’s role. This, the birth of the final God, the hushed whispers about the ‘Prometheus Gambit’, and a more palpable awareness of the Gods’ mortality have sparked a more aggressive narrative direction. And at the centre of it lies Baphomet, who’s seeming quite unlike the punster we’d met back on Issue #3.

Will he take after rebellious Lucifer?

Issue #10 “If I’m going to Hell, you’re all coming with me.”

We start off at the Underground, and it’s forebodingly dark this time around. Morrigan is quick to notice a change in Baphomet. He responds spitefully to her concern and the fact that she vouched for his ascension to godhood. He is unhappy with his lot, and he wants more than that. Although he was always dark and fiery, only now he appears villainous as per the usual feature attributed to Death Gods. This scene is brief enough to cast some poignancy on Baphomet’s possible motives henceforth. Meanwhile, we’ll pay a visit to Brockley, South London, the Wilsons’ yard.

Laura is having a chat with Inanna before taking off for the Ragnarock event. For the first time, Laura is speaking openly about her little miracle after Lucifer’s death. This had led her to believe she’d turn out the twelfth God, but Cassandra’s ascension kinda put a wrench in the works. She’s gutted about this turn of events, as she’d believed godhood would be the only means to stop hating herself. It had only been hinted at before, but it seems more than likely that Laura suffers from depression. Inanna gives her a warm hug, which helps her mood before they take off in a sprite of stardust.

They arrive to the 5 day event taking place at Hyde Park almost instantly. Inanna’s not staying since he has a personal gig going on at his apartment, as you do. He takes off in the nick of time before Baal can talk to him. It would appear the thunder God would like patching things up, but he actually just came to talk business. Urdr has discovered who tried to take out Luci on Issue #1; about time. On the way to seeing the new God, Laura is approached by David Blake, the douche Laura argued with in a Ragnarock past. He and Urdr have been working together, and they discovered the identities of the shooters.

Somewhere in the known universe, a drum roll is playing…

Duncan Ackford and Tom Wilkes, two nobodies trying to pull off the Prometheus Gambit on Lucifer to gain godhood. Their fanaticism appears to be more towards the glamour of power than the worship per se. However, much to Laura’s chagrin, there’s no link to the judge’s death. Plausibility says Lucifer did kill the judge herself, but the implications of it fall bitterly in Miss Wilson. Not even a humble apology from Blake can lift her spirits after that. Regardless, it’s time to kick off the event with the Norns’ performance. Black-clad and with endless gravitas, they make their way to stage while Baphomet looks on ominously. At this point, his intent is really just a sum of all factors around him.

He is afraid of dying, but the true Prometheus Gambit to add himself a few years is available. Still, he hesitates, so he does what any sensible person would. He summons a floating talking Bapho-head to reassure himself that he truly must do this. With hopeless resolve, he creates a flaming staff and plunges towards the stage, ready to take out Urdr while she performs. However, his attempt is thwarted by Morrigan, who descends with nigh-angelical style. She knows him well enough to anticipate his deed. A showdown between the two underground Gods is about to unfold anew, but Ananke prevents it from continuing further.

She’d warned Baphomet, and now she must deliver the punishment. However, Morrigan steps in, trying to convince Ananke to stay her hand. But even if his murderous intent had been stopped, she is still going to off Baphomet. There’s no appealing to necessity, so Morrigan teleports him away to the Underground. Ananke sends Baal and Sakhmet after them, which means only one thing: the Pantheon is now divided. Things are looking troublesome in all regards; even the crowd is starting to riot. Still, the Norns’ song of monochromatic nihilism suffices to drive the people back into cheering mode. The collective response far from pleases her, though.

It’s now that Cassandra, as Urdr, becomes quite the darkhorse. Under her former journo persona, she came off as a caricature of a cynical internet journalist. It was easy to dismiss her as such. However, the transition into godhood problematises her character and yields some proper weight to her words. Ever the iconoclast, she now has the power to speak cold hard truths as she couldn’t before. Yet the crowd wanting more destroys the intent and the effect she desired. She’s resonating as mythical Cassandra in the audience disregarding her truths. She’s quite distraught about that, and Laura is quick to lend comforting words. It bears some worth to speak of these as well.

We know Laura is gutted about not being a God herself. She desires validation through it, something she can’t perceive as Laura Wilson, the potentially long-living human. Yet she acknowledges a manner of insignificance even in that, as she says godhood is better spent on Cass. As Urdr, Cassandra can do much more with godhood than Laura herself could imagine herself doing. In truth, she’s truly happy for her friend in spite of her disillusionment.

Cassandra now appears truly vulnerable after the recent transition into a God, possibly as much as the first stages during her transition into womanhood. It will take time to truly be her own self.

But time is not something she has much of anymore. She too is afraid of the death that awaits her as a God. At this time, the divinity that Laura desires is truly looking like inevitable doom. The gift that Ananke triggers is not entirely wanted, if Baphomet and Urdr are any indication.

Back in the Underground, Morrigan urges Baphomet to hasten his escape. He doesn’t care to cash in the opportunity the Goddess of Death has risked getting, though. Feeling he has no other choice, Baphomet expresses some regret in the turn of events. Nonetheless, his resolution via astral floating head is absolute. He’ll now target Inanna.

The Wicked + The Divine Issue #10 Credits

Writer: Kieron Gillen

Art /Cover: Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson

Images courtesy of Image Comics

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