The Wicked and the Divine 1373 Special #1
It's 1373. In the midst of the Black Plague, we meet a past Lucifer as she takes a trip to meet her fate. It's a short story of defiance, triumph and some scary foreshadowing for what's to come for our current cast of gods and goddesses.
All of the Wicked and the Divine specials thus far have served (to further stretch the musical analogy in the main series) as remixes of the story currently taking place in the ‘present’ of the main series. As the mythology surrounding these characters has dramatically expanded, it’s been cool to see how the concepts Gillen is playing with in the main series get twisted and reconfigured for different times and settings. In this particular iteration, ‘1373’, we go back to the height of the black plague, in a story that focuses on this pantheon’s current sole survivor, Lucifer.
Much like her contemporary iteration, Gillen writes Lucifer as an extremely unconventional deity, one who bucks at the role that her particular ‘deity persona’ is meant to play. There’s some fun to be had in seeing the original, primal rebel be rebellious by being staying religious and not losing faith in God. This is a Lucifer who accepts her status as ‘evil’ and a sore in the eyes of God, but who nonetheless remains devoted to him. If contemporary Lucifer bucked our expectations of the ‘devil’ by being unexpectedly compelling and sympathetic and ultimately sacrificing herself to save the rest of the pantheon, ‘1373’ Lucifer amps up the twisty pathos meter to an 11 by having her retain her faith in a God who by all accounts will never reciprocate the same kind of loyalty and devotion. There’s something…wickedly divine (ha!) about the many layers of self-flagellation and/or sadomasochism Gillen is infusing this iteration of Lucifer with. Do Lucifers choose to martyr themselves because of some deeply held belief or principle…or do they just secretly enjoy it?
Eventually, Lucifer meets her maker. Not capital ‘G’ G O D of course, but rather Ananke, of course. They offer mutual confessions, with Lucifer disclosing why she feels damned and Ananke giving up the ghost of what this whole business has been all about. The scene works best when it playfully hints at how it the main series’ story will end. Ananke describes Lucifer as that one rare pantheon deity who has persisted, despite that old clichéd adage of absolutely power corrupting absolutely, because she denied the ‘norms’ of what’s supposed to happen to humans who become gods. Lucifer avoids the fates of the other pantheon deities in this cycle, ironically, by accepting her role as one of, if not the very, damned and everything that comes with that label. Persephone/Laura, in the present, rejects godhood in a very similar way. Does Ananke’s statement here about what kinds of deities persist despite their power mean that Persephone/Laura will finally be that payoff, that something new that Ananke cut off at the bud by spreading the black plague?
Speaking of, the implication of Ananke’s confession about what caused the plague has some frightening implications. We know she’s capable of some truly diabolical actions to get what she wants, but this takes her to a whole new level of nasty. The threat of a great darkness has been looming over the series since it’s inception, but I never considered that this might be the stick Ananke wields rather than the thing she’s trying to prevent.
I do wish the characters’ motivations here was made a bit clearer by Gillen. Did Ananke just overestimate her ability to manipulate Lucifer? Did she not know that this is how Lucifer’s lack of control will manifest? Or was this her attempt at just trying to end this particular cycle prematurely, taking a break from the endless loop that she and her have been running for 5,000 years? Ananke’s motivation remains mysterious in a scene where some clarity would have made the ending of the one-shot much more satisfying.
Ryan Kelly’s simple, well drafted style nicely captures the grimness and dirtiness of the story’s setting without overwhelming the reader with too much grit or shadow. I’m not sure if it was his or Gillen’s idea, but giving this Lucifer the stub horns was a nice touch. Since manifestations of the pantheon tap into the current zeitgeist of whatever historical juncture they show up in, the notion of a contemporary fantasy figure being a self-hating she-devil feels absolutely appropriate.
The contemporary pantheon’s musical concerts become medieval-remixed into group-self-flagellation sessions. Matt Wilson’s contemporary ‘pop’ becomes a muted palette, which is only appropriate to convey the grit and bleakness of the story’s setting. Clayton Cowles’ lettering also does a lot of work to subtly convey the strangeness and difference of the story’s setting.
‘1373’ is another satisfying ‘remix’ of the WicDiv mythos, one that offers a tantalizing, if somewhat confusing, glimpse of what is to come in the main storyline that will soon be ending.
The Wicked and the Divine 1373 Special # 1 Lucifer (Medieval Remix)
Writing - 8/108/10
Storyline - 7.5/107.5/10
Art - 8/108/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 8/108/10
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