Review: The Wicked + The Divine 1831
So far in The Wicked + The Divine, most of what we know about past pantheons is from hearsay or little tidbits of information from those who have studied past pantheons. In fact, the pantheon in this particular issue was hinted at as far back as issue 2 when Laura went to meet with Cassandra about freeing Lucifer.
After The Wicked + The Divine 1831, we don’t have much more to go on, but there’s a bit more background about one of the past pantheons, how the celebrity of the Gods changes in each era, and maybe how Ananke manipulated the gods to meet her own goals.
The issue gorgeously illustrated by Stephanie Hans takes place mostly at Villa Diodati, the mansion by Lake Geneva where Frankenstein and The Vampyre were developed. In fact, a quick bit of research reveals that the pantheon of 1831 was completely composed of the Romantics. Never mind that many of them were already dead by 1831. It’s an alternate history though where the Romantics were given the powers of Gods by a mysterious old woman, so a little wiggle room can be made for such things.
For most of the issue, the story is narrated by Inanna, who was Claire Clairmont in this era. This is where the universalness of the story really plays, since it becomes less about the gods and their fates, but rather the interpersonal issues as the clock nears midnight on their time. In this story, there is only four left: Inanna, Lucifer, Morrigan, and Woden. There are hints of who the other gods were, but that almost doesn’t matter in this context. Writer Kieron Gillen and Hans instead weave a story about old friends and family gathering together, airing their grievances in the only way they know how: horror stories.
What’s especially interesting about this issue is that it seems like Inanna may have brokered a deal for her godhood, playing the role of the jealous sister when her sister Mary Shelley became Woden. It’s not unheard of, since it’s implied that’s how Baphomet gained his powers in the modern pantheon, but the ways in which Inanna went about it seem much bloodier. If it hasn’t occurred by now, 1831 will make you realize just how deep the world of The Wicked + The Divine really runs. Oh Kieron, what wicked things are you planning for the future of this series?
Something that Hans doesn’t get a lot of credit for with her art is how expressive it is. You see this a fair amount in 1602: Witch Hunter Angela, but it’s on full display here. Especially with Inanna and how subtly her face can change from contempt to seductive in just a matter of seconds. Mixed with the use of a more sketchy style for the flashbacks within the story that recalls back to illustrations of the era, and Hans rightly deserves all the applause for this issue.
Besides the shenanigans of the Romantics (because who else would be the celebrities of this era), this issue raises a lot of questions about what Ananke’s endgame was. Especially regarding the hand of Hades. While we’ll never know from the woman herself now, you have to wonder just how the end of this issue might come back to haunt the modern gods later.
Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Stephanie Hans
Story: 9.0 Art: 10 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy
Image Comics provides Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.