Here we have the stories we’ve always heard about but have never seen. Completely fanservice, and at times like fanfiction, the Christmas Annual gives us a peek into the most intimate moments in the early days of The Pantheon.
THE WICKED + THE DIVINE CHRISTMAS ANNUAL
Writer: Kieron Gillon
Artist: Kris Anka, Jen Bartel, Rachel Stott, Chynna Clugston Flores, Emma Vieceli, Carla Speed McNeil
Cover Artist: Jamie McKelvie (Variant by Kris Anka)
Colorist: Dee Cunnifee, Ludwig Olimba, Brandon Daniels, and Fernando Arguello on flats. Matt Wilson and Tamra Bonvillain on colors
Publisher: Image Comics
What You Need To Know:
Every ninety years, the gods come back as young people. They are loved. They are hated. In two years they are dead.
The Christmas annual is a collection of stories from the early days. While the main storyline is currently a year and a half into the current Occurrence, the creators realized they never had a chance to show the days before our story opens in January of 2014.
These stories mostly involve the gods getting it on.
What You’ll Find Out:
The first story takes place in November of 2014. Sitting atop an unfinished Valhalla, the hall of the gods, Baal looks out over London. Inanna appears and asks if there is anything Baal needs to talk about. Baal rejects his offer to be a sympathetic ear and rattles off his philosophy that “life’s hard. You have to be harder.” Inanna tells Baal he sees right through him, and that he is a sweet guy and disappears.
Later, they are at home making out and having some playful flirting banter. Baal takes them to Valhalla and confides the reason he is often there is he likes the view. Inanna appears without any clothes and Baal admits he’s never been with a guy before. Inanna tells him to forget about labels and just let things happen.
After they’ve finished having sex, Inanna says he’s hot. Baal playfully agrees and uses his power to make it rain. They lie together, holding each other.
“If You’re Feline Sinister”
In December 2013, Lucifer and Sakhmet are in a penthouse apartment, lying in bed after they have had sex all night. Lucifer searches for photos of their previous night on the red carpet, while Sekhmet broods about her disdain for paparazzi, hissing that she likes her privacy.
Baal breaks in and lunges at Lucifer, stating she should have left Inanna alone, and there is no need to sleep her way around the pantheon. In the ensuing grapple, Lucifer points out that they have been told they shouldn’t use their powers around humans, and that they wouldn’t want to have a brawl in central London and Baal exits.
Sekhmet has gotten dressed and heads out the door. On her way out, she remarks that she hates complications and that Lucifer is a bad person.
In December 2013, a wet Cameron (Baphomet) stands on the side of the highway. A group of young people headed for The Morrigan’s show happen along to pick him up. They chat about his past dating The Morrigan, and he makes some truly awful puns, to which the other passengers in the car scream in pain.
When asked why he makes so many puns, he articulates that he likes the attention, even bad attention and that maybe deserves to be hated. Or at least that he believes he does.
In October of 2013, Tara broods about her godhood and her now shortened lifespan. She expresses her desire to create music and to share that music with the public without use of her power. She plays a song for Ananke and asks if she enjoys it. Ananke admits that it is not for her to understand why she chooses to abstain from using her power in order to perform her own music. Tara asks Ananke if she thinks the public will like it. Ananke is honest and says that it will make some mortals angry, and that they will have certain expectations of her she will be expected to fill, but that all that matters is that Tara finds it satisfying.
Giving Tara the trademark mask she uses during her shows, Ananke sends her off with her blessing. She looks over London and gives a heavy sigh, knowing she is sending Tara off to a public who will never accept her own personal music and will resent her for not giving them what they want.
January 2014 – Lucifer sits in prison after she is falsely accused of killing the judge using her power (see issue #1). As Laura leaves, promising to help find the true culprit, Lucifer asks her if she wasn’t behind glass if Laura would kiss her. Laura responds with a no and teases she wouldn’t JUST kiss her.
In August of 2013, Eleanor Rigby (Lucifer) and Hazel Greenaway (Amaterasu) play video games together and talk about the upcoming occurrence. Hazel confesses her desire to be the Shinto goddess, Amaterasu. Eleanor feels the opposite and says she wants to be the furthest thing from a god.
Two months later, Lucifer is talking with some of her fans before a show. Hazel comes backstage, having not yet transformed, and Luci quickly sends her away. When asked who the girl was, Luci states she was nobody and asserts how awful it would be if she was someone.
A few months later Luci is on her balcony smoking and looking out over London. Amaterasu floats down to her and expresses her excitement that they get to be gods together. Luci looks at her with horror and apologizes.
May 2014 – Laura is visiting Valhalla and is in bed with Baal. Baal teases her about her fangirl excitement and then asks Laura not to tell Inanna about what just happened. Laura answers that it wouldn’t get to Inanna at all, but Baal requests she still keep it a secret. He doesn’t want Inanna to think he knows him well enough to think that fucking his friends would get to him.
Laura realizes that getting involved with the pantheon is going to make life complicated.
What Just Happened?
While a few of the stories are hinted at during the main storyline in The Wicked + The Divine, a few of the short stories here do well to hit you in the gut. “Toxic Community” in particular brings a lot of depth to a character who never got a lot of time to develop. Eleanor, and her dual identity as Lucifer is quick to express her disinterest in being a god, but then quickly appears to have embraced her godhood. However, adding to her actions at the end of volume one, we know that Lucifer is only playing the game considering the inevitable. Her apology and horror at Hazel’s transformation gives the reader a clear idea of her position on godhood status and is heartbreaking to see.
“Decomposition” is another piece that tugs at the heartstrings. Knowing the inevitable fate of the suicidal Tara, encumbered by expectations placed upon her because of her godhood, make the story similar to a Greek tragedy. Tara expresses her desire to be loved for her art, and not for the assumptions put upon her by mortals. What woman hasn’t felt something similar? Mismanaged and mistreated, Tara’s ultimate demise stings just a little more because of this gem is hidden in the center of sex and deception.
“Hitched” sheds some light on another character who uses humor as his main disguise. Cameron, soon to be Baphomet, rattles off his self-loathing philosophy to a car full of strangers. This story makes it easier to see why the god of puns falls into an abusive relationship. Reflecting his sensitivity before his transformation, the short adds a new layer to Baphomet that is only hinted at during the main storyline.
Overall, the issue is well put together. The initial sex scenes can feel out of place, even for The Wicked + The Divine, but they help paint a more personal picture of the culture created within The Pantheon. It doesn’t hurt that the artists don’t make a spectacle of the sex and do a wonderful job creating intimate moments.
Final Thought: The Wicked + The Divine Christmas Annual is pure fanservice. Giving a glimpse into the earliest day of The Occurrence, we dig a little deeper into the characters we love. Seeing a few other characters get a more central part in their own story is a nice treat. The stories we often hear and never saw are now no longer a mystery. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.