|THE WICKED + THE DIVINE #10||IMAGE COMICS|
|ARTIST: JAMIE MCKELVIE||WRITER: KIERON GILLEN|
|COLORIST: MATTHEW WILSON||LETTERER: CLAYTON COWLES|
|DESIGNER: HANNAH DONOVAN||EDITOR: CHRISSY WILLIAMS|
The cover of this month’s The Wicked + The Divine is simultaneously misleading and appropriate. There’s no literal blood spilt in this issue, despite Baphomet’s attempts for that to happen- but there’s a lot bled metaphorically, in terms of both character development and plot advancement. We’re reaching the end of WicDiv‘s second volume, and in finale fashion we’re getting both answers and payoff for many of the things it’s built up over the last ten issues. While WicDiv hasn’t previously strayed from physical confrontations and bombastic shows of power, #10 seems to save that for next month, focusing instead on the emotional growth of the characters.
This is especially true for Cassandra and Laura, who are both deeply affected by Cassandra’s ascension to godhood, for different reasons. Cassandra seems to have taken the godhood itself rather well, but it’s the fate of her message that worries her. There’s something simultaneously bold and simple about the way Jamie McKelvie conveys that message, as a tapestry of pure black and white, shaped like a spider’s web, words reaching out to literally pierce the bodies of the audience. Unlike the more abstract and wordless performance we saw from Amaterasu back in #1, The Norns, under Cassandra’s leadership, are almost excessively direct. As a journalist, and a radical one, Cassandra’s goal has always been to spread news; that certainly must have informed her choice not to beat around the bush with her fans.
Unfortunately, it backfires completely when Cassandra finds the audience cheering gleefully at her expression of hopelessness. Cassandra assumed her trade-off for an early death would be the recognition of her ideas by the masses, and while Pantheon fans certainly seem to adore her already, they don’t interpret her words correctly- the worst nightmare of any writer. It’s enough to fracture the normally calm Cassandra, and her breakdown is rendered perfectly by McKelvie, from the small detail of her eyes losing their black shade to the way her hands twist and clench.
But despite Cassandra’s distress, and Laura’s own at the end of #9, it seems the completion of the Pantheon has potentially allowed Laura to open up. Now sure she isn’t joining the Recurrence, Laura begins the issue venting her troubles to Inanna, and ends it confessing to Cassandra as well. It’s a huge moment for her, coming after months of depression and keeping the secret of her potential abilities from everyone else.
It’s also an excellent way to highlight how indoctrinated Laura has become with the Pantheon. She may not be the twelfth god, but it’s unlikely that there’s any other person as close to multiple gods as she is- and not just with Inanna and Cassandra, but Baal as well, as the implication that they got together after #8 is seemingly confirmed. Even if there was nothing to Laura lighting that cigarette, there is something to her ability to relate to so many superpowered figures, especially when Ananke seems to falter.
Speaking of Ananke, it’s her actions that have led Baphomet to attempt murder. Ananke has always been a character with distinctly gray morality, but it’s never been more apparent than now, when she’s both partially responsible for Baphomet’s murderous actions and spends this issue seemingly more perturbed with the gods than supportive. If Baphomet crashes and burns badly enough, it’s not out of the question to think the Pantheon may not even trust her anymore. Luckily, they’ve got Laura- and if her bond with the gods is any indication, she might be able to do a better job than Ananke ever did.
The Wicked + The Divine is obviously hurtling into the second arc’s finale, and while the scope of a book seems much larger than it did when Luci died in #5, it’s hard not to feel a similar sense of dread. Laura has spent months getting to know Inanna, and she’s perhaps even closer to them than she ever was toward Luci. Her mental state has also drastically improved since the night they met, culminating in her confessions this month. Inanna will have to die eventually, yes, but to be murdered? The most distressing thing that may come from that may not be Inanna’s absence, but Laura’s reaction to it.
- There’s a lot of stuff about Baphomet and The Morrigan’s relationship in this issue that can easily be seen as foiling Laura’s relationships with Inanna and Cassandra, both of which are much more supportive. Morri stopping Baphomet from killing The Norns is obviously the centerpiece of the issue- yet another page gorgeously rendered by McKelvie and Wilson, particularly when Baphomet’s fire set’s Morri’s birds aflame- but the most intriguing detail of their conversations is the implication that Morri made Baphomet into a god. Perhaps he’s not a member of the Pantheon like we think, but something more akin to Woden’s Valkyries?
- The Morrigan’s dialogue is my favorite thing about her. “You make the three-fold queen three-times concerned.”
- Shout out to the double-page spread seen above for more gorgeous McKelvie/Wilson art. This issue generally just looks fabulous.
- I like that Baal’s nicknames have become so extreme that Laura can’t even understand them now.
- The other big reveal in this issue is that of the identities of the men who tried to kill Luci in #1, who, as it turns out, were working alone and couldn’t have had anything to do with the judges’ death. The explanation of their actions is still a worthy scene, though, as it develops David Blake into not actually being a huge jerk and, of course, makes all the godly options of who killed the judge much more suspect.
- Baal and Sahkmet continue to serve as Ananke’s enforcers, although I don’t think we ever exactly see whether or not they followed Ananke’s orders and went to the Underworld. That may end badly.
- Baal briefly tries to talk with Inanna and fails. If he’s trying to mend their relationship, I don’t think he’ll have a good reaction when he finds out who Baphomet’s trying to kill.
- The orange Bap-head that Baphomet keeps summoning- what’s up with that? If I can reference another work by Team WicDiv, it’s very Young Avengers Kid Loki Ghost, but I can’t figure out quite yet.