Everything is becoming clear. The origins are set in motion, and our modern-day Pantheon is starting to understand who they can trust.
THE WICKED + THE DIVINE #34
Authors: Kieron Gillen
Artists: Jamie McKelvie
Colors: Matthew Wilson
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Image Comics
What You Need to Know:
Every 90 years the gods come back as young people in what is called an “Occurrence”. In 2014’s Occurrence, they have come back as pop stars performing for their fans. Despite being led by a 10,000-year-old god named Ananke, nobody knows why they return, or why they die after only two years. A mysterious thirteenth god, Persephone, dubbed “The Destroyer” by Ananke, has also appeared. After discovering that Ananke has been killing the Gods in every Occurrence to avert what she calls “The Great Darkness,” Persephone kills Ananke.
While trying to figure out their purpose, if they are actually doomed to die, or if The Great Darkness is actually just Ananke’s excuse to kill the gods for some other unknown reason, the Pantheon is slowly going mad, becoming more and more unstable and erratic. Minerva has killed Sakhmet for her murder of a room full of party goes and the goddess Amaterasu. Urðr has been busy trying to divine the purpose of Ananke’s machine, which was intended to kill Minerva, in hopes it would give some answers. Urðr has enlisted the help of David Blake, a Pantheon expert who believes that this generation does not deserve an Occurrence. Woden betrays the gods during a performance in order to replicate Dionysus’ power, leaving Dio braindead. Upon Woden’s defeat, he quickly flees. In the aftermath of Woden’s betrayal, Urðr and Persephone find a false wall in Woden’s lab, uncovering that Woden is not the god they thought he was, and that he is David Blake in disguise, and that the real god was John Blake, David’s son. Minerva has also revealed she is Ananke while searching a small shrine underground to which reveals that Lucifer, Tara, and Inanna are all alive as heads put into a mysterious altar.
What You’ll Find Out:
The issue starts nearly 6,000 years ago. A goddess, who looks very much like Ananke, wanders the desert with her grandchild. She tells him to flee while she awaits her fate. Upon sitting for a while, Ananke catches up, covered in blood and with the heads of several other gods in her possession. The sister’s play a game to set rules for the Occurrence. Asserting she has put basic rules into place, the sister makes new rules with her sister about each Occurrence and it’s absolutes, including her god always being present, there always being twelve gods, etc. Ananke makes sure her work can take place, by demanding that she needs four heads for her ritual. As their game ends, and rules are set, Ananke murders her sister using powers only seen and associated with Persephone in the modern day.
Back in the modern times, Skuld and Verðanthi sit debating about their importance within their triad. As they do so, they are both relieved of their goddess status. In a cell elsewhere in the Valhalla complex, Persephone, Mimir, and Urðr sit powerlessly and reflect on what must really be going on now that they know the true identity of Woden. They decide that Minerva cannot be trusted and that Luci, Inanna, and Tara must live since Mimir is able to live as a disembodied head. As they converse and figure out who they can trust, Cassandra’s assistants walk in and assist with freeing them from the power nullifying prison.
Woden is, however, too distracted to see the escape plan. While going through surveillance footage captured through the devices he placed with each of the gods, he notices something strange. Comparing Minerva’s attack on Sakhmet with Ananke’s execution of Lucifer, he notices the connection. Upon figuring out he’s been used, he’s furious.
What Just Happened?
The issue is very dialogue heavy, but with an arc devoted to revealing the secrets both to the reader and to the characters, it’s probably just a taste of what’s to come. However, even when bogged down by a lot of dialogue, the issues reveals are satisfying and intriguing. While the second half only concerns itself with the characters figuring out what the audience already knows, the real meat of the issue lies in the flashback to the original Pantheon.
The origin of many of the devices used throughout the run comes into play, though they are not fully uncovered. One, Two, Three, Four is a commonly used theme throughout WicDiv that is ascribed some meaning from the sister’s contest in “The Game of Stories,” but its’ setting of rules of the Pantheon is still unclear. Why must there be rules, and what are the fundamentals that the sister has laid out? Ananke also has yet to reveal her true purpose and motivations.
During The Game of Stories, the two sisters also set in motion their rules for the future Pantheons. One of the more uncertain rules comes with rule one. Ananke establishes herself as Maiden and Crone, and her sister as Mother. The triple goddess, only really recognized by pagan Wiccans, has yet to appear in any Pantheon but seems to take form through Ananke. Her sister reveals her goddess must always awaken in every Pantheon, but Ananke counters by limiting her to always appearing last. This gives the sister a strong connection to Persephone, the final goddess awakened in 2014’s Occurrence, and may explain why Ananke feels so threatened by Persephone.
While this connection is put in place, Persephone’s expresses her newfound desire to be called “Laura” again. The themes of identity are bringing Laura back now that she has shed the guilt she bore because of her family’s death. Now that she has admitted that she feels it was her fault, she desires to shed the godhood and revert back to finding out who Laura is. This development is the most interesting in Laura’s hands compared to the other gods because we have never known Laura to be anything else but a fangirl and a god. From issue #1 she desired to lose herself in the Pantheon and become one of them, so her sudden turn is sure to develop into tieing up the theme of lost identity in the final issues to come.
Final Thoughts: In the dawn of the final year of WicDiv, the truth is about to come out. Revealing how it all started, while also giving the modern day Pantheon a new clarity, helps readers feel what each of the characters we are following feel. The beginning of this arc reveals just enough to keep issues flying off the shelf.
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