Review: The Wicked + the Divine #42
*This review contains spoilers for WicDiv #42*
The Wicked + the Divine #42 goes all out with great reveals and brilliant character moments as Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson craft a sweet sacrifice of a comic book. (This is a very poor choice of words.) And the book starts to take flight around page three with a moment that ties in the specials to the main series as Woden of 1831 is more alike to the “Woden” of 2015 than we think, and Gillen and McKelvie put their own unique mark on the Frankenstein mythos like they did on the Lucifer one. This is only the tip of the iceberg of a comic filled with pathos, action, beautiful and cunning speeches, and another heart getting ripped out ending that won’t be alluded to in this review because it’s that good.
Before getting into the squishy character/feels of it all, WicDiv #42 is another masterpiece in craft from Gillen, McKelvie, and Wilson. The fragile status quo of the series is dismantled, but it all makes sense in the light of the 6,000 year game that Ananke has been playing. She has to get heads to keep her immortality, and there’s nothing like some unmentionable evil to freak out impressionable youngsters, get them to die, and ensure the next Recurrence happens.
In recent issues, Baal’s own proclivity for sacrifice has popped up ranging from children to a whole stadium, and it shows how much of a master manipulator Ananke is. She can get others (See Woden throughout the series.) to play a smaller version of her game and have them destroyed for it. Baal and Inanna reunite in this issue, but it’s one of the saddest pages of the series. McKelvie gives Inanna a sick, half-dead look on his face as he realizes that Valentine Campbell is the god of fire and child sacrifice, Baal Hammon. Wilson nails the idea of fiery vengeance in his colors on the last panel of that page as he just wants to take Ananke/Minerva/who gives a fuck out because she put his family at risk. His motivation have become very primal
Sacrifice and ritual has been a series throughline in WicDiv’s first scene and has been turned up to eleven in “Okay” beginning with Baal’s ill-fated O2 gig. We get a three dimensional view of the concept in WicDiv #42 as choices have consequences, unexpected heroes rise, and one pesky misogynist meets a gory, pop art inflected end with McKelvie’s smooth style taking a back seat to bludgeoning and ultraviolence. Woden’s last scene feels like the third act of an exploitation film where the women he thinks that are under his thrall kick the shit out of him. Death Proof has nothing on the Valkyries. But due to Ananke ordering the aforementioned kicking and more cool plot throwbacks from Gillen, this moment of catharsis spoils very quickly.
Another highlight of WicDiv #42 is the tension in Laura’s narration. Although she can’t scry like Urdr, she knows what’s going on most of the time, including dark secrets like Baal’s penchant for child sacrifice. Her experiences throughout the series have made her calm and collected, but she’s also freaking out inside and feels a little like Ananke with some knowledge (Like the child sacrifice.) being doled out on a need to know basis. You can definitely see a bit of the game player that has been squaring up against Ananke for millennia like in “Mothering Invention”, and this issue only raises my anticipation for their final duel. Plus there’s that whole layer of caring about fangirl-turned-goddess/destroyed-turned mortal, and Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s wonderful character development and facial expression work makes the surprises and plot beats even more compelling.
WicDiv #42 made me yelp in an emotional manner. Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson have turned in stunning bits of plot structure, character arcs, visuals, and palette (Baal vs the Valkyries is a true symphony of color.) in this comic.
Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Jamie McKelvie Colors: Matthew Wilson
Story: 9.8 Art: 9.8 Overall: 9.8 Recommendation: Buy
Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review