It’s always been clear that the Gillen/McKelvie/Wilson/Cowles team do an excellent job pandering to the world’s current generation of teenagers. From the internet-speak to Young Avengers‘s “Yamblr” recap pages, there seems to be no better creators in comics to embrace an excited audience of the youngest Millennials. So much of WicDiv has been a love letter to those kids, presenting every relatable situation from celebrity worship to depression, and in that sense so much of this issue is incredibly satisfying. There’s something special about reading a book where a girl talks about how many followers she has in her poster-filled room and it not feeling fake, forced or used insultingly.
That said, it’s hard not to see WicDiv #6 as a bit of a transitionary issue. After the bombastic end of #5, with Luci’s horrific death and Laura finding she can light the cigarette the late goddess left her with a finger snap, this issue is much lighter, and much slower. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its distressing bits- quite the opposite. We open up the issue discovering that Laura can’t even think too much about Luci and what happened to her without vomiting in stress, and when she gets home to her worried mother there’s an especially candid scene depicting how she’d like to explain her mental state. Jamie McKelvie’s art shines here, from his often unique paneling- only the final panel, showing Laura’s actual response, has a frame and a background- to his rendering of facial expressions. Since I found McKelvie’s art through Young Avengers I’ve found it has kept evolving by leaps and bounds, and the faces he gives his characters may be the thing that’s become the most impressive. Throughout this entire issue, Laura’s face perfectly shows how a real person would feel in her situation, and the dynamics McKelvie puts in every face are something rare to find in even the most detailed of books. Every detail of Laura’s life that we find in this issue hits where it hurts, and feels brutal and its reality. It’s hard not to feel bad for Laura’s mother when Laura responds to her statement that she’ll be there for her daughter with a simple “uh-huh”, but it doesn’t make us dislike Laura, either. We all remember times we’ve done that to our own parents, and even though we know we were being brats then, Laura is written with such realism that we can’t help but relate to her complicated situation.
Perhaps the true star in this issue (in a literal regard, actually) is Inanna, a god whom we’ve heard plenty about before they finally make their full appearance here. Compared to the other gods, all of whom have seemed incredibly and openly flawed, Inanna comes off as an amazingly kind and compassionate person, giving Laura a hug after meeting her. Much of this seems to be the change in their personality that’s come with their current godly state. As we find out, Inanna was a very different person a year ago, when they ran into Laura at last year’s pre-Recurrence Ragnarock festival. There they saw Laura stand up against a person who claimed that the current generation of westerners didn’t “deserve” a Reccurence, and it’s a testament to how thougtful Inanna is that they remembered Laura and kept her in mind long enough to remember her when she showed up all over television and the internet following Luci’s death. But back then, Inanna didn’t make an impression on anyone. As they say themselves, their “go-to cosplay was wallpaper”, but once they became a god they were free to express themself more fully. No matter what a reader thought of Inanna beforehand, it’s hard not to love them when they explain that the combination of godly power and terminal status has led them to decide that there’s nothing stopping them from expressing themself anymore. It’s almost invigorating to see their happiness as they discuss it, and it’s hard not to find them immediately likable.
Even beyond all that, though, WicDiv #6 works best when it’s hinting at things to come. WicDiv has a habit of teasing things in small doses- for example, we’d heard Inanna mentioned multiple times before their inclusion here- and WicDiv does it again this time, with everything from mentions offhand of what gods like Baal and Baphomet have been doing lately to mentions of new characters such as Brunhilde, a valkyrie who was kicked out of Woden’s group. These are gracefully incorporated enough as not to interrupt the main storyline, which gives us its own reveals, though small. Inanna has been looking into the identities of the assassins that Luci killed way back in #1, and they’ve discovered that both men were apparently not radicals or members of hate groups but instead fans of the gods. This arc is WicDiv is called “Fandemonium”, and it ends with Laura, whose growing number of followers means that many seem to consider her the ultimate fan, offering herself out to come and speak at fan meetings and conventions. We’ve heard much of the fan community behind the Pantheon, but we’ve never seen it extensively in its present state, and it’ll be interesting to dive right into what should be diverse and opinionated group. Still, if we expect those two dead men to set a precedent, being a fan of people as powerful as gods may be a dangerous choice of fandom.
- Probably relevant: Kieron on Inanna’s pronouns. I went with they/them knowing they’d be using them soon.
- Laura’s haircut is amazing.
- I love Baal’s cameo here, pointing out how rude and insensitive it would be for him to go to Luci’s funeral. One big part of Baal’s appeal, to me, is that while he’s a generally harsh and cold person, he’s also very smart and level-headed. It would be very easy to write a character that’s much more insensitive.
- “Baphomet claims responsibility and that he is ‘None more goth'”. Jesus christ.
- Everything about Inanna has such fun details to it- they don’t just send letters but sparkly purple letters, for example.
- I can’t believe Luci’s name was actually Eleanor Rigby.
- The incorporation of Laura’s mother in this issue combined with the cameo of Luci’s mourning parents further reinforces the importance of parents in this narrative, something I enjoy. It would have been easy to cut parents out of the picture altogether in this story using the traditional teen story excuses, but keeping them in is a bolder, more interesting move.
- I miss Cassandra. I hope she’s back next month.