Thursday, May 30, 2024

The Wicked + The Divine: I am the God of Hellfire, and I bring you…

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… an Arthur Brown reference, because this thing is super English and I love it. It’s also thematically relevant, but we’ll get there soon. One of the actual Gods of Hellfire is on the loose, and there will be inevitable consequences to that. Divine peers will get involved to stop this Wicked one, and she won’t go down without a fight. However, before we get into that, I need to clarify something. The God on this issue’s cover is Tara. Readers may remember her often mentioned as “Fuckin’ Tara”. I haven’t noted the times she is referenced so far, because it’s always an afterthought. This is quite deliberate.

The reason I clarify this is because of a few thematic discrepancies between the cover’s design and the quote at the end of every physical issue, and the issue’s actual plot. Given the aesthetic and thematic relations from past issues, I feel it’s worthwhile to acknowledge subversions. Onwards, then.

Issue #4
“It’s not over.”

We start off in a similar fashion to previous issues, by a reprisal of the character’s portrait on each cover. Morrigan was beheaded, and Baal was Renaissant-ly portrayed. By this pattern, what can we expect about ‘Fuckin’ Tara’? Well, it’s certainly nothing nearly as cool as the previous ones. It’s just a vandalising of a poster with her face; horns and glasses, and the word ‘loser’, gracefully done by Lucifer. It’s just fitting for a God nobody seems to care for, not even her fans. The perceived arrogance in Tara’s motto annoys particularly annoys here. “If you exist, you’re staring at me.”

I would say that at this time, it’s rather impossible not to stare at Lucifer, or the destruction she has wrought. While she strolls carefree along the fire, Laura is still attempting to get through to her. Cass joins her, with a very different goal in mind. She wants to cash in on the situation by getting some footage. Before either can do a thing, though, Amaterasu comes through. As a peer of Luci in the Pantheon, she does seem the most sensible person to take care of this. The Sun Goddess tries to get her to ‘come home’. Unfortunately, Lucifer’s not having any of that. Turns out that Amaterasu is the honey…

… Whereas Baal is the thunder-infused vinegar. With a punch that might have been reprised from Marvel’s more action-oriented narratives, Baal urges Luci to cooperate. Being a God, what might have killed anybody else, just leaves a gash on her face. But it’s still no minor offence against somebody who just wants to drink coffee, smoke cigarettes, and raise hell. Luci retaliates with an inferno of a finger-snap, incapacitating Baal… very briefly. Even Lucifer seems shocked at seeing the furious Thunder God emerge from the flames. This onslaught won’t be the only thing our Rebel, Rebel will have to deal with.

Sakhmet pounces like a kitten, a furious deadly kin-eating kitten. Laura is sure they’re going to end up killing Lucifer, so she drags Cass along towards the subway. In times of need, it’s good to have a recluse on your side. Deadly surprised about what she’s about to do herself, Laura jumps onto the rails, while calling for Morrigan. She plunges into the darkness of the tunnel, soon to meet with the light at the end of it, an oncoming train. Armed with faith, necessity and despair, the Lady of Death and Destruction heeds her call in the nick of time.

Back in the world above, the smoke is clearing. Sakhmet nonchalantly urges Lucifer to just stay in prison. Baal is none the worse for wear, except for that amazing suit, which is now burned to rags. Lucifer, though, is pretty roughed up. However, she shows no interest in letting up her resistance; she’s brimming with bloodlust. A murder of crows washes over them before the fray can go any further. Amidst the confusion, Laura’s hand reaches for Lucifer’s. Morrigan’s power teleports both of them to Laura’s house, which is the safest place for a God gone rogue. It’s virtually a temple.

Now more serene, our beloved upstart urges Cass and her crew to keep filming. Lucifer is feeling extreme remorse, acknowledging the damage she’d done. She know she has hurt some people she didn’t mean to. Others she did with full intent, including Cassandra. We now learn that Cass is Trans, which rather justifies her responses to Lucifer’s snark back in Issue #1. Nonetheless, forgiven or not, Lucifer accepts Laura’s help for good. The plan from here is to move in with Morrigan and Baphomet. It’s a bit trite for the Devil to inhabit the underworld, but what can you do? Things seem to have worked out.

That is, until she walks out the door. Ananke is waiting outside, with her fingers ready to snap. We all know what that means, don’t we? In a blink of a moment, Lucifer seems to fear what is to happen. As we’ve so often seen before, Ananke has nothing but grief in her eyes.

SNAP. So long, Luci.

The narrative blacks out for a moment, as Laura says she was unable to remember what followed. When she comes to, she is kneeling on the floor, cradling Lucifer’s headless body. Baal looks remorseful. Sakhmet washes herself because she’s a cat. Ananke sits on the entrance steps, entirely devoid of mirth. Amaterasu holds Lucifer’s hand, sobbing. Cass and her crew are filming cause they’re journalists and assholes. Morrigan only stands downcast as Laura yells for her Gentle Annie aspect to revive Lucifer. She can do no such thing. Lucifer is irremediably dead.

Ananke turns to the cameraperson. Much has been said about the Pantheon by the media, but now it’s their turn to speak. The wisest of the bunch speaks as representative and as the one who got her hands dirty. Ananke speaks soberly on the events, and urges the populace not to be afraid, for mortals have shown more interest in Gods than vice versa. As parting words, she only asks for discretion, as it’s time to mourn. However, these are journalists we’re talking about, comic book journalists, to be precise. Discretion is the antithesis of their M.O. Reporters harass Laura incessantly after this event. She even ends up seeing her own face on television throughout her ensuing depression.

On the verge of losing sense of her individual self beyond the vulgar gaze of the media, she holds on to something familiar. She holds on to memories and one final gift from Lucifer. Oh, beloved Luci certainly liked to smoke her cigarettes. Such poise she had. Just a snap and you got a light to shine in the dark. As a bittersweet reminisce, Laura snaps her fingers as Lucifer used to. The cigarette ignites. Bewildered, our grieving heroine can do nothing but stare at that light, . Could it be that Lucifer actually fulfilled her promise? There’s no answer to her bewilderment tonight, only a little dying light.

It’s still early in this series, and we already saw one God dying. It’s not just any God, either. It might be difficult to find another narrative where the Devil is the first to bite the dust. Could it be that we’ve already started the elimination process towards the suicide pact on the last Recurrence?

The Wicked + The Divine Issue #4 Credits

Writer: Kieron Gillen

Artist: Jamie McKelvie

All images courtesy of Image Comics

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