Tag Archives: Morrigan

Review: The Wicked + the Divine #37

Like the previous issue, and perhaps in an even bigger contrast, The Wicked + the Divine #37 is a study in highs and lows of storytelling. There are ten pages of black squares arranged in a nine panel grid, and there is poignant, epic, tragic battle royale between  Baphomet and Morrigan, Nergal and Badb, Cameron and Marian with the identities flowing in some of Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson’s most brilliant visuals.Unlike the previous issue, which focused more on the sky gods, like Baal, WicDiv #36 is mainly concerned with the Underground and its king and queen, Morrigan and Baphomet, plus Persephone, who is also an underworld-connected deity and is kind of, sort of in a love triangle with them. There is a deep love between Morrigan and Baphomet as well as pain and abuse, and their relationship hits its climax in the big set piece in WicDiv #37.

But, before we get to all the compelling relationship, fight scene, and Luci, Tara, and Inanna having spoken dialogue stuff, there are flashbacks to 32nd century Egypt and 31st century Crete illustrating the death and rebirth cycle of the Pantheon. The choice of Egypt and a Greek island are interesting because Morrigan chose not to intervene in a battle between an Egyptian deity (Sakhmet) and a Greek one (Persephone) hoping the woman her partner in darkness cheated on ended up mauled to a bloody pulp. There is also a distinct visual similarity between the final page of the flashback and the comic. But, then, there are the ten pages of pure blackness showing the passage of time between Recurrence: ninety years to be exact. Gillen and McKelvie have a cool idea to show what the world’s like without the activity, inspiration, and general drama, decadence, and death of the Pantheon, but the execution plods along. There’s not even cool fashion to look at like the repetitive flashback in WicDiv #36, and it sidelines the comic’s momentum from the get-go. But, the full page, totally must have been a strain on Jamie McKelvie action sequences easily put the book back on track.

After the flashback, Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie don’t immediately dive into Baphomet v Morrigan: Dawn of Cheating and Cheated On Chthonics and give a “regular” human POV on the events of Mothering Invention. It seems that even as Urdr, Cassandra still lives up to her Greek mythology namesake, and that regular Londoners are sort of non-plused by Pantheon members, like Dionysus, dying as long as the gigs are intense and on the edge. Even more so than the banter, I really enjoyed the almost documentary style approach that McKelvie took to panel transitions going from two gig goers chatting by the train tracks to the tunnel and finally progressing to Persephone catching up Baphomet on the bloody events of this arc. It’s a reminder of how recently they were the fans, Cameron and Laura, and Gillen writes them as being fairly honest and open about how they have no idea what the hell is going on. A Minerva/Ananke heads interlude aside, the moody is fairly light by late period WicDiv standards even if McKelvie and Wilson bathe the page in shadows. But, then, Morrigan cold cocks Persephone, and the rest is death match.

The fight between Morrigan (Mostly Badb) and Baphomet that is really the best chunk of WicDiv #37 doesn’t take place in the shadows, but in the lavish life with jagged panels of crows and flame flowing into monochromatic flashback panels of Cameron and Marian’s old life. McKelvie finds a new level of rage for Morrigan as she transforms her whole arm into a sharp bone blade and is about to cut Persephone’s throat when Baphomet intervenes and begins the one-on-one battle. Between the yelling, flame swords, and broken sunglasses, Gillen and McKelvie get to the core of their conflict. Morrigan feels like she’s losing control over the man that she pleaded with Ananke to make a god and wants to shape his fate instead of letting him choose healthier (definitely platonic) relationships like with the late Dionysus and potentially with Persephone. (That opens a can of worms though.)

The black and white illustrations of Cameron and Marian at the pub, dancing at the club, having sex, or playing Vampire: The Masquerade add an extra emotional layer to WicDiv #37. There’s a scene where Morrigan is crumpled on the ground, and Baphomet should easily be able to take her out with his flame sword when there’s a faint, flickering of a scene of them dancing and laying in bed together that causes him to hesitate. McKelvie shows this softening of feeling by having Baphomet open his eye a little wider in pity. Of course, the next page is all crows and chaos and red, yellows, and greens from Matthew Wilson to accentuate the violence. However, Morrigan has a moment of pity too as Gentle Annie makes her sole appearance, and there is a tiny slice of redemption for her. It’s only a sliver, though.

In a similar manner to the previous issue, and more effectively thanks to the epic sauce nature of the Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson drawn battle between Morrigan and Baphomet and the teary eyed callbacks to their Leila Del Duca drawn showcase issue, WicDiv #37 works as a comic when it’s not trying to be experimental and abstract, but diving into its complex and flawed characters. Kieron Gillen has bestowed some of his best character voices to this doomed pair and cranks the feelings up to eleven in this issue to match the power of McKelvie and Wilson’s art and colors. It’s the final act in a tragically romantic, yet toxic relationship that burned hot in the beginning, led to one hell of a power couple, and fizzled out in conflict and utter sadness. (I can totally relate.)

P.S. This issue pairs well with Sisters of Mercy’s final single as a band, “Under the Gun”, and both Morrigan and Terri Nunn have fantastic eyeliner game.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Jamie McKelvie Colors: Matthew Wilson
Story: 7.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8  Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Wicked + the Divine 1923 AD Special

WicDiv1923CoverAs The Wicked + the Divine starts to round its final bend, writer Kieron Gillen and guest artist Aud Koch (America) return to the literal beginning, namely, the Pantheon of 1923 that graced the first pages of WicDiv #1. In keeping with the modernist mood of the time period, Gillen and Koch experiment and tell a 56 page Agatha Christie (Ananke may or may not be a stand-in for her.) drawing room mystery featuring all of the Pantheon members, who have all stayed alive to this point. There’s also a lighthouse. Most of the comic book is Gillen’s prose, which is purple-y, atmospheric, and channels several of the great modern writers, including Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, possibly Langston Hughes, and T.S. Eliot, who is racist and pretentious as hell. Large sections of text are broken up by fantastic art from Koch showing the murders is  better than telling us about them and end in a fine, kinetic tribute to one of the first motion pictures.

The issue is a meditation on the conflict between regression and progression, so-called high art and low art (Poetry and film in this case, and possibly by extension, prose and comics.), and there is a driving angst about the possibility of yet another world rending war that isn’t helped by Nazi with a German Expressionist aesthetic, Woden’s pronouncements. And beneath the lofty themes, it’s one hell of a murder mystery. WicDiv #1923 AD is technically a standalone story, but Gillen and Koch make it into a period piece remake of “The Faust Act”  and potentially the whole series complete with a whodunit about the exploding head murder of Lucifer as well as a framing narrative leading directly into WicDiv. It’s a multi-layered showcase for the prose stylings of Gillen and Koch’s ability to tell a visually arresting story in a few powerful panels or pages.

The extended length of the book allows Gillen and Koch more than adequate time to explore the personalities and even some of the personal journeys of the different Pantheon members. Lucifer dies fairly early, and his living form only appears in the drawing of the dramatis personae on the first page, but he’s perfectly Fitzgerald/Gatsby. Lucifer is very new money trying to impress blue bloods like Baal, who’s an American trying too hard to be British like a certain limp wristed anti-Semitic bank clerk, and Set, who gets a sharp, sexy design similar to Desire from Sandman and the prose of Virginia Woolf. He tries to be profound, but is all fluff just like Fitzgerald’s novels. But there’s nothing wrong with having a little cotton candy, now and then.

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My personal favorite member of the 1923 Pantheon is Morrigan, who is obviously James Joyce with his free indirect discourse, rapid shifts from omniscient narrator to third person limited, and affinity for Guinness. Gillen uses him as a kind of loner oracle that some Pantheon members find amusing, and most find annoying. But he speaks what’s on everyone’s mind and describes everything around him in great detail letting a little truth shine in the artifice of light dancing, purple prose, and Neptune’s speech, which is the opposite of purple prose. And Koch’s drawing of his death scene is the epitome of modern art with a bleak color palette He’s too much of a wild card like modern Morrigan so Ananke had to take him off the table. This is all in the service and to ensure events run on the smooth side rather than the artsy, mass murdering side because even if she’s less of a killer than modern Ananke, the immortal Agatha Christie will do whatever it takes for the next Recurrence to occur, the Great Darkness to be staved off, and for inspiration to continue. This involves tragic sacrifices, light shows, and silent film title cards because hey, this is the Roaring Twenties, and a little party never killed anybody.

The WicDiv 1923 Special, especially the parts where Set and Baal were extolling the supremacy of poetry (And, by extension, poetry by white people.) while blasting dance and silent film aficionadoes Susanoo and Amaterasu reminded me of my second year at university, circa 2013. That was the year I switched from writing mainly poetry to mainly pop culture and to be honest, mainly comics, criticism all thanks to a professor, who enjoyed ripping student poems to shreds and uncritically banned writing “genre fiction” in our short story unit. (I included as many references to Spawn and Nintendo 64 games in my story as possible to tick her off.) In WicDiv 1923, Set and Baal are angry that the “common people” have access to art via the new medium of film and want things to go back to the good ol’ days when books were chained to desks in monasteries. (They don’t mention monks and vows of silence, but it’s implied in other words.)

This is just like the poets and reviewers of poets I knew who, for all their attempts at populism, were just writing for a small, “elite” group of other poets. But, when I write about Star Wars or Superman or even WicDiv, more people can connect to the themes and ideas in what has unfairly been called “low culture” in the past. There’s nothing wrong with making art that actually reaches people and connects to them. That’s truly how you connect and inspire people just like Amaterasu’s dancing and film, which were inspired by style and film icon, Louise Brooks. (No brooks, no bob hairstyle.)  She has a selfless, democratic approach to art while Baal and Set want to keep theirs inaccessible like the top of the lighthouse, and this is where their connection to the totalitarian Woden comes in even though they sneer at his cheap monster movies, which were super influential on modern film. Who doesn’t love German expressionism? Especially the woodcuts of Frans Masereel, who could be considered as an early comic book creator with his 1919 work Passionate Journey. Nazis should all be punched though.  This is all serves to show that art is subjective and should be for everyone and not trapped in canons and hierarchies and all those stuffy, boring old things.

In WicDiv 1923 ADKieron Gillen and Aud Koch use the setting of the 1920s and the angst of modernism and the world between the World Wars to tell a riveting murder mystery, a wonderful homage to silent film, and a kind of ars poetica for WicDiv. Koch’s ability to shift from cubism to chiaroscuro-lit expressionism and even classic compositions are unprecedented, and all her pages from this comic deserve a MoMA exhibit and eventually a retrospective. All in all, this is a comic that everyone from wannabe flappers and pretentious poets to action junkies and mystery readers can enjoy and probably spend the rest of 2018 unpacking.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Aud Koch
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy 

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Wicked + the Divine #30

WicDiv30CoverThe Wicked + the Divine #30 is definitely a setting up the pieces on the game board issue from Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson with unlikely allies Woden and Cassandra putting the finishing touches on their literal plot moving machine. However, most of WicDiv #30 is dedicated to Dionysus, Baphomet (finally), Morrigan, and other members of the Pantheon talking out their feelings. Gillen, McKelvie, and Wilson have built up these characters over several years, and it’s novel and nice to see new sides of them before all hell breaks loose.

One of the coolest parts of WicDiv #30 is that the entire power trio of the Morrigan appears, including the violent Badb and the underutilized Gentle Annie. The trade off between sweet and sad, harsh and loud, and something crazy in-between reminded me a lot of a three piece femme punk band I recently called The Coathangers where the lead guitarist does melodic vocals and the drummer does growls. (She would probably shoot off crows if she was a WicDiv character.) Even though Gentle Annie is the one who finally relents and let Dio and Baphomet chat, she is creepy as hell and basically predicts Dio’s death with a kind smile. He is the most decent member of a very corrupt Pantheon, is starting to have feelings for Urdr, and was torn to pieces by the Titans in classical mythology so it seems like his demise is imminent. Like Gentle Annie says, “Only so much of ickle Dio to go around.”

Luckily, before his possible death, Dionysus gets to be the most supportive friend ever and try to talk Baphomet through the fact that he is part of an abusive relationship although Baph wards off any serious talk with quips and bad puns about British political parties. His evasion is fleshed out visually by McKelvie, who draws him with sunglasses in stark contrast to Dio’s open, honest eyes in the midst of negative space. Baphomet is closed off and too bonded to Morrigan, who has been manipulating him ever since she made him into a member of the Pantheon instead of just a Goth fuckboy version of the Valkyries. The flashback to him joining the Pantheon is just plain tragic along with his almost nihilist resignation to his current fate. Gillen and McKelvie handle Baphomet’s relationship situation in a thoughtful manner and focus on his pain, how he is sadly deflecting it, and not the sexy Goth-ness of him and Morrigan.

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While Dio and Baphomet are having a heart to heart in the Underground, McKelvie and Wilson make a two page sort of return to the superhero genre when Baal and Amaterasu accidentally “bust” Sakhmet, who is actually a fangirl. This little scene provides some comic relief in the middle of a pretty tough and foreboding WicDiv #30 with a close-up reaction shot of Minerva, who is the Oracle to Baal’s Batman, freaking out taking the cake. The sequence also show that the sky gods are still a little bit delusional and think that everything can be fixed by capturing Sakhmet and Woden’s big ol’ machine, which definitely has its red flags like being powered by a physically and emotionally wounded Dionysus and Woden installing high tech spy cams on the other Pantheon members’ bling.

WicDiv #30 shows that even right before an impending apocalyptic event, Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson still take time to have readers listen and empathize with the Pantheon members’ emotions and problems. They also continue to use the highly stylized trappings of the Pantheon to shed light on real world problems, like abusive relationships. Even though they’re fictional, I care about Dionysus and Baphomet like they are real people and hope for the best for them. But, knowing WicDiv‘s past approach to characters with softer edges (RIP Fangirl Laura and Inanna) that won’t likely be the case.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Jamie McKelvie Colors: Matthew Wilson
Story: 8.5 Art: 8 Overall: 8.2  Recommendation: Buy 

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Wicked + the Divine #29

WicDiv29CoverDysfunctional relationships are the bread and butter of The Wicked + The Div ine#29, which kicks off “Imperial Phase Part 2” in cringeworthy fashion with Persephone waking up next to a Luci look-alike. Jamie McKelvie‘s art is sultry, and colorist Matthew Wilson trots out a dusky palette for the underworld goddess, but then writer Kieron Gillen’s dialogue fills in the awkwardness that Persephone feels and the total embarrassment of the moment. It’s also a little tragic and toxic too, which is the tone of WicDiv as a series and much of issue 29, which manages to be relationship driven while driving the arc’s plot ahead in the hunt for Sakhmet.

The most intoxicating thing about WicDiv #29 are the pairings and groupings of Pantheon members that Gillen and McKelvie put on display throughout the issue that evoke various emotions. There’s the cut from Laura fangirling at a Baal gig back in the halcyon days of 2013 (or the first arc of WicDiv) to Baal training Minerva to be a killer. He fits into the Pantheon dad role very well giving everyone (Except Persephone) nicknames and coordinating everyone from Persephone to Woden. Baal seems like more of a general than a pop star, and his regimented training exercises and walk and talk style are the complete opposite of the raw energy of the flashback with its pixelated colors from Matthew Wilson and the easy swagger of his movements drawn by Jamie McKelvie. However, no one can really control Persephone as a London cop remarks after he asks her some questions about Sakhmet’s disappearance.

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Persephone slinks into her destined Destroyer role throughout WicDiv #29 mostly through lying to everyone and using her abilities to presumably cover up these lies. The big reveal of the issue is that Sakhmet is holed up in Persephone’s flat yet she lies to the police, Baal, and Urdr about the kitten themed murderer’s whereabouts and throws in yet another deception to Urdr when she says she’s going home, but then gets a sad club montage. The reason for sheltering Sakhmet is pretty evident: Persephone loves her. In a conversation with Urdr, she even says that Sakhmet was her girlfriend. In this panel, McKelvie lifts the hard, chthonic goddess facade, and Persephone is Laura again pining over the woman she cares about and happens to make terrible decisions. Love definitely makes you do the wacky, including harboring fugitives, and Gillen gets this out in some of the dialogue where Persephone flat out tells Baal that she can’t fight Sakhmet.

Visually, the scene stealer of WicDiv #29 is Morrigan as Persephone, Urdr, and Dionysus return to the Underground. Because of Baphomet’s affair with Persephone, Dionysus ends up taking point and getting an audience with the goddess, who McKelvie and Wilson imbue with a dark majesty. There is only light in the Underground because Morrigan wills it, and McKelvie and Wilson obscure a lot of the characters’ faces and bodies in this scene. With Persephone taking more of an antagonistic role by helping Sakhmet, Morrigan is the new wild card. She knows that Sakhmet is a threat to everyone, including herself, and says so in her usual, flowery dialogue. However, she isn’t a fan of the Pantheon prying into her abusive relationship with Baphomet, especially Dionysus, who stays in the Underground until he sees Baphomet. Dionysus using his empathy and kind heart more actively has been one of the highlights of both parts of “Imperial Phase” although I fear that Badb may rip the dance floor god to pieces down the road.

morrigan

Toxic relationships are the main theme of WicDiv #29, and “Imperial Phase 2” starting out. At this point, Persephone isn’t a physical Destroyer, but a metaphorical one to her former friendships. Baal can barely look at her and walks away after he’s sent her on a mission to the Underground. She is dealing with Sakhmet’s actions by sleeping with someone who looks like her first “bad girl” crush Luci and lying to everyone. It’s tough to see this bright eyed fangirl become such a trainwreck, and Gillen, McKelvie, and Wilson rub salt in the wound by including that flashback of her at Baal and Sakhmet’s first gig.

With a dollop of dark energy and pinch of sadness in Jamie McKelvie’s art and Matthew Wilson’s colors, WicDiv #29 continues to chronicle Persephone’s development into the Destroyer as Kieron Gillen throws away the seemingly beautiful apple that was the Pantheon’s relationships and exposes its rotten core, black as Morrigan’s wardrobe.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Jamie McKelvie Colors: Matthew Wilson
Story: 9 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.8  Recommendation: Buy 

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

The Sights, Sounds (and Selfies) of C2E2 2017

Four years after I first visited it as a 19 year old journalist, I returned to C2E2 in 2017 to a much more crowded show floor and a world where a monosyllabic tree and a talking raccoon, not Iron Man were the most popular characters in the Marvel Universe. Most of my C2E2 was spent wandering around Artist’s Alley, chatting with creators/fellow fans/Twitter friends, and trying to not get lost.

One reason I love C2E2 is that they bring in excellent comics guests to balance the celebrities and their overpriced autographs. ($100 for Stan Lee. Come on!) There’s everyone from the very friendly and passionate webcomic creator Ngozi Ukazu from Check Please! to veteran writers, like Greg Rucka and Kieron Gillen, and I found myself flipping from Archie to Black Mask and occasionally a side of the Big Two while walking around. The Artist’s Alley is the beating heart of the con even though C2E2 also has two quite large gaming areas for console gamers and tabletop fans, and the Weta Workshop truly spoke to the Lord of the Rings nerd in me.

Here is a gallery of pictures of my C2E2 2017 experience starting with the Captain Marvel cosplayer I met while waiting for the shuttle bus and ending with a moment where I felt like a comic book character. (Dionysus from The Wicked + the Divine #8 aka the rave issue to be specific.)

 

 

 

Review: The Wicked + The Divine #19

WicDiv19hotWicDiv #19 reads like the first skirmish in an epic war, but it’s an amusing skirmish indeed as writer Kieron Gillen provides a little more insight into the characters of Minerva and especially Dionysus, who gets his first substantial panel time since WicDiv #8. (What with him being a 24/7/365 dance floor.) His worshipers/ravers are so connected to him that even when he takes a five minute break for a soda and fries, they got wild so it’s safe to say that he’s a little irritated when Baphomet draws him into a battle between the Sky gods and Underground ones. Gillen writes him as peaceful in the mode of the late Inanna while artist Jamie McKelvie and colorist Matthew Wilson show that he is less than apt in the art of combat thanks to this pacifist nature.

WicDiv #19 doesn’t end on any “WTF” cliffhangers like #17 or #18, but it’s nice to see the sides set in the battle between the two factions of the Pantheon with Ananke turning into a full bore, unapologetic, and unsympathetic monster when Minerva’s special owl catches a recording of her talking about sacrificing Minerva to prevent the “great darkness”, or the end of the Pantheon cycles that was hinted at back in Ananke’s solo issue. Supposedly, Persephone is connected to the great darkness as the “destroyer figure”, but the jury is still out on this fact as Persephone is more force of nature than teen fangirl with superpowers as she silently brings green tendrils from the Earth to knock off

The action is really the best part of WicDiv #19 as well as McKelvie’s mindboggling ability to switch from Morrigan to Badb and even Gentle Annie (Who gets an incredibly pleasing character voice from Gillen.) through gestures and body language. Gentle Annie comes off as a laidback and maybe a little stoned with relaxed posture while Badb is all rage and expletives. Wilson’s colors play a big part in her transformation from subtle shifts in shadows to bigger switches from light grey to crimson as Gentle Annie immediately turns into Badb. McKelvie and Wilson let her go full death/war goddess in the issue’s best composition, which is a full page spread of her transforming into a horrific crow that even takes Baphomet by surprise. (Also, with his wild lightsaber, er, flaming sword arcs and general evil douchelord behavior, Baph and Kylo Ren from Star Wars: The Force Awakens would totally be frenemies.) This follows a full page splash of Baal generally crashing the party and being a badass with his beard and lightning with Wilson’s purples continuing to show that the only reason he gives a shit about this Pantheon civil war is because Baphomet killed Inanna. (Except Baphomet is saying Ananke did it. It will be interesting to see his justification for lying like this probably because Ananke is the terrible mother figure he wished he didn’t have.)

BadbUnleashed

Morrigan and Baal are the powerhouses of their respective factions whereas Sakhmet is more fluid leaping from panel to panel and talking trash while doing it. The characterization doesn’t stop during the fight sequences, but these physical battles actually enhance them with Amaterasu not taking any action against the Underground deities (Who she somewhat considers friends, especially Persephone.) and just zipping in like Superman to get Minerva to “safety”. She is the opposite of the destructive Morrigan and has the precision of one of Cyclops’ optic blast (Because Gillen used to write Uncanny X-Men.) as McKelvie cuts to her always on-point eye makeup, and she grabs Minerva without harming a soul. Wilson uses a solar yellow to show her purity and kindness. It’s pretty sad to see her in the service of a murderer and possible future child killer.

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WicDiv #19 deepens the evil of Ananke and the characters of Minerva and Dionysus while having some pyrotechnics-filled god battles from artist Jamie McKelvie and colorist Matthew Wilson. Writer Kieron Gillen also starts to hint at Persephone not being the heroic, divine upgrade of Laura that fans expected as both the sky and underground Pantheon are cast in a net of lies, strained relationships, and volatile personalities. Morrigan and Baal are definitely the proverbial water and oil mixture (Or Yeezy/Nightwish mashup I never knew I wanted.) after this issue despite not interacting too much before.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Jamie McKelvie Colors: Matthew Wilson
Story: 8 Art: 9 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Wicked + The Divine #18

WicDiv18WicDiv #18 signals the beginning of the comic’s imperial phase with the triumphant return of artist Jamie McKelvie and colorist Matthew Wilson as they and writer Kieron Gillen drop the introspective character studies of the previous arc for some well-earned action sequences and magical musical explosions. It’s like when your favorite band stopped playing small clubs and intimate venues and started playing arena rock. But damn good arena rock, like Queen or Rush in the late 70s and early 80s, the Smashing Pumpkins on their Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness album, or Muse in this millennium. (Before they started putting songs on Twilight soundtracks.)

But beneath the most creative use of divine powers since the death of Luci, WicDiv #18 is a comic about transformation. Somehow, Laura has survived being “killed” by Ananke after being transformed into the 13th Pantheon member, Persephone, and she is back with a vengeance playing gigs with black, oozing tendrils in the background as McKelvie and Wilson recreate the rhythmic dance floor layout in WicDiv #8 but paint it black this time. And her little bit of attitude that was kind of adorable in the previous issues has been exchanged for pure coolness as she performs feats that and is in pure sarcasm mode. The squeeing fangirl has become a goddess.

PersephoneSlay

However, through Ananke’s tense attitude and constant freaking out, Gillen reveals that Persephone is something called the “Destroyer” and sets the stage for a war between the underworld gods and sky gods. Think Civil War without the heavy handed political allegories and with more stylish outfits. (I hate to use this word, but Persephone is definitely on fleek when she faces off against Ananke, Woden, and Sakhmet.) The direction of the plot has gone from passive aggressive sniping and covert actions to all out war between hot headed young gods while their handler continues to manipulate them.

However, the big action beats on WicDiv #18 really hit home thanks to the more character focused direction of the previous arc as small moments, like Baphomet losing his parents in WicDiv #16 or Baal beating up Morrigan in WicDiv #12, have solid payoffs. For example, Morrigan reminds Baphomet of his own orphan status, and leads him to saving Minerva’s parents even if they don’t show up on panel. And Baal and Baphomet are really in a kind of “Bad Blood” situation as they face off physically twice in the course of this issue’s melee with some flame sword and fierce headbutting action. (Wilson really juices up the pastels when Baal headbutts Baphomet in a kind of testosterone fueled homage to Baal’s dead lover Inanna, which is the reason why he hates Baph so much.)

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Everyone is really angry in WicDiv #18 as McKelvie and Wilson turn up the bombast as divine energy and speed lines are flying everywhere. But it’s not mindless Hollywood destruction porn as the team puts the Pantheon members in clever or interesting situations, and Gillen is always ready with a timely quip written in each character’s distinct voice from Baphomet’s douchiness to Morrigan’s pretention and Badb’s plain rawness. Woden’s outburst of “Laura Fucking Wilson” when Persephone does some Earth-bending meets The Matrix with a side of Green Lantern stuff is the funniest moment of the issue. (And of course, Ananke gives him a chiding.) McKelvie takes familiar visual elements of Laura like her beaten up smartphone and again transforms them into weapons of war against Ananke and her supporters. And her “S’okay” expression from when she gave Baal the brush returns after she uses her Persephone abilities to create some kind of a portal from Valhalla to the Underworld, which has been impossible up to this point. Gillen and McKelvie consign decompression to the flames of Tartarus, and Persephone play an immediate, game changing role in the series’ plot while also starting to flesh out the differences between her and Laura.

After opening with a gorgeous full page spread of Persephone in all her glory and creating a parallel between Persephone losing her parents and Minerva still wanting to keep hers, WicDiv #18 dives right into the set pieces as the characters that Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson have been building off get to blow off some steam in an epic way. McKelvie truly makes Persephone the star of the show design-wise while making her simultaneously non-chalant and pissed off at Ananke, and Wilson’s color work for her is intoxicating with blacks for the underworld and pinks and greens for spring when she is using her abilities in Valhalla. WicDiv #18 is electrifying reading, and its more quiet final page really messes with the character dynamics and sets up a war, both physical and emotional. No one is going to be okay by time this arc wraps up.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Jamie McKelvie Colors: Matthew Wilson
Story: 9.5  Art: 10 Overall: 9.8  Recommendation: Buy 

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review