The Wicked and the Divine # 40
It's Baal's final performance, and it's going to be the performance to end all performances, literally. We spend a lot of time on the ground, with a peon/pantheon fan and someone not that *unexpected* shows up in the end. Gillen and McKelvie are truly messing with us, and we wouldn't have it any other way.
There’s a sense of impending closure that permeates The Wicked and the Divine # 40 which only feels appropriate as this installment begins the last arc of the long running series. Everything appears to be on the table and no expense will be spared as this 40-plus issue story races to it’s inevitable conclusion.
Gillen gives the point of view in the issue to a regular human being/fan of the Pantheon fan. A story telling choice that proves effective in many ways. This shift in perspective, from the gods to those who worship them, would seem to indicate that we are now coming down to earth, the story focusing more on the impact of the gods’ actions on regular folks rather than the consequences of their own infighting and drama amongst themselves. This actually feels like the best perspective from which to witness the events of the issue as the fallout of Baal’s final performance has more of an impact and a sense of horrific spectacle when witness from the perspective of a civilian.
This conceit of a concert-video-blog also provides some nice meta-moments of closure and good-byes, with Gillen sharing some of his thoughts on the series and venting some truly familiar sentiments from fans of the pantheon both within and without the comic. Gillen pulls this off without much intrusion into the fiction of the story and even with a measure of well-earned tenderness. I do wonder why so much attention is being lavished to this lowly human, Tom, at this very late stage of our game. Is he a merely a well-chosen story telling tool, or does he have a bigger role to play? Given recent revelations about Mimir and Woden and Tom’s placement on the issue’s cover, there’s also the possibility he has more of a juicier, godlier, role to play. I hope there’s a pretty good game plan, if Gillen and company plan to introduce another player at this late stage of the game.
The issue’s climax arrives in an explosive and impressive moment of violence as poor Baal continues to unwittingly carry out Minerva/Ananke’s (Minanke?) machinations. Of all the current pantheon, he has, in my opinion, received the least amount of character development, continuing to act in this issue, as he has throughout, as the unwitting and devout caretaker and executor of Minanke’s (#Minanke y’all) will. He, sadly, apparently won’t get to do more than that in his career as a deity. Minanke needed a patsy and sadly Baal got the short straw.
Besides being a great showpiece for the issue, this big moment is also especially gratifying in how it links these present-day events to Lucifer and Ananke’s fatal encounter during the events depicted in the 1373 special. It’s really rewarding to see how that story relates to the overall tapestry of the WicDiv saga. As in the time of the Black Plague, Minanke is the one who creates the Great Darkness. Present-day Lucifer may have been the biggest threat to her plans and thus had to be eliminated quickly. With Luci gone, Laura may now be taking up the role that Luci played in 1373.
That Persephone is destined to be the destroyer is another point and theme that Gillen keeps making sure we remember, but destroyer of what? Her actions in this issue certainly doesn’t belie the qualities of someone ominously called ‘the destroyer’; an appellation that seems at odds with another key thematic phrase she’s said on several occasions and in this issue as well, that ‘everything is going to be ok. But perhaps, there’s nothing inconsistent about the/a destroyer assuring us in this way. After all, what is Laura going to destroy anyway, and would destroying whatever that is necessarily be a bad thing for regular peons like Tom and ourselves?
In any case, were’ just on part 1 and Gillen, McKelvie and company have already blown up the O2 arena. One shudders to think about where else they might go after this, as it’s a pretty hard moment to top.
The choice to depict the events in the issue via video recordings is great. The sense of uncertainty it lends to our narrator and view into the story is appropriate given that it’s showing us the last waning days of what may will become legendary and mythical events. Viewed from the vantage point of the present, these accounts are always surrounded by that same kind of uncertainty and multiple, conflicting interpretations. Myths about gods are always stories told about real events that become colored by history and layers of re-telling and interpretation, and why should these gods be exempt from that?
Artist Jamie Mckelvie and colorist Matt Wilson should be commended for lending all the pages in the comic a kind of glare filter, which at first, I thought was a problem with the digital comic I was reading. But this is actually a feature, not a bug. The effect lends a nice sense of fidelity to the issue. The story is being transmitted to us via video recordings from multiple sources, so it’s fantastic and only appropriate that the comic pages also look like the screens we would be watching this story unfold on.
The beginning of the end of WicDiv is here and Gillen, McKelvie and co. start off the proceedings with a massive bang. If this first stop of the farewell tour is indication, this will be a satisfying ending for the ages.
The Wicked and the Divine #40: The Farewell Tour Begins
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 8/108/10
Art - 8.5/108.5/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 10/1010/10
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