Tag Archives: Persephone

Review: The Wicked + the Divine #39

I check my look in the mirror. I wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face…”- Bruce Springsteen, “Dancing in the Dark”

I have a confession to make. I don’t really read The Wicked + the Divine for the cycle of birth and death, Ananke/Minerva/Persephone, Woden machine, talking heads, Great Darkness overarching plot; I read it for Laura Wilson/Persephone’s personal journey, and these feelings have definitely intensified in the “Mothering Invention” arc and reached a fever pitch in WicDiv #39. Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson personify character development as Laura rejects godhood (Or does she??.) in a story that visually and content-wise goes back to the salad days of its first two arcs, “Faust Act” and “Fandemonium”, especially the breathtaking final page.

Free will and freedom of choice is the refrain that rings out, or mostly hums, in WicDiv #39. Gillen doesn’t frame these big ideas in philosophical discourse or even witty banter, but in action. Laura chooses to no longer be a god, and she chooses to have an abortion. After latching onto almost every WicDiv cast member, either platonically, sexually, or romantically, she takes ownership of herself even if that means sitting in the dark. She changes. McKelvie draws her in an vulnerable way with a plain, shorn hairstyle, face with just a touch of shadow to it that signifies her status as the Destroyer. There’s a real humanity in this simplicity, and the even palette that Wilson chooses for her panels compared to the ostentation, guns, crazy pink colors, and EDM womp womp of Woden’s new Valkyries aka Beth and her fan army. (Wow, fuck nerd culture.)  They represent the empty show and lights of the Pantheon’s displays earlier in the series (i.e. the fights in “Rising Action”) while Laura is feeling and truth cutting to the quick like the sharp internal monologue that Gillen writes for her.

But WicDiv #39 isn’t about all the big ideas, it’s rooted in some big character development for Laura – arguably the most significant bit of her personal arc since WicDiv #11 when she became Persephone and was “murdered” by Ananke. The girl who dressed up like the gods and desperately wanted to be one and even took on the moniker of “ascended fangirl” rejected her godhood and chose a simple, desperate existence like the rest of the world even if that meant dancing, er,  sitting in the dark. But she’s not like that any more and chooses to opt out of the 39 or so issues of drama that has been her life with breaks for flashbacks. Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie also handle her abortion with sensitivity and even have one of the Valkyries empathize with her. It’s a choice that Laura made for herself, she’s not ready to be a mom, and that’s that. Like the Tara story in WicDiv #13 that dealt with online harassment of women, the plot point doesn’t feel like a PSA, but something that is part of her character and respected as such.

Sure, WicDiv might have millennia spanning long cons, magical contraptions, and flame sprouting finger snapping, but this is still a story about young adults and the choices they make. And Gillen and McKelvie explore these choices in a non-condescending way and even poke a little bit of meta-fun at poor writers in the first pages where Minerva tries to unpack the middle aged man, Woden, pretending to be a teenager for the most of the series. Woden has been one of the creepiest characters in the series, and Gillen, McKelvie, and Wilson find new ways to make him even creepier as the series progresses while keeping him fairly pathetic and not up to Big Bad status.

Speaking of Big Bad, WicDiv #39 is also the final transformation of Minerva into an amazing long con baddie complete with furtive glances drawn by Jamie McKelvie and using Woden and the Valkyries as the ultimate cannon fodder. (Even though Woden just thinks the Valkyries are cannon fodder.) She still looks young, but there’s something ancient in the facial expressions that she pulls after putting up with Woden, or to herself in the mirror as she reminds herself of her big, bad plan to knock out the rest of the gods, collect the final head, and continue the eternal cycle of death and rebirth. And Gillen writes her as quite genre-savvy (Living for thousands years is definitely a perk on this front.) as she never underestimates Laura although Woden just wants to snuff her out or leave her alone thinking she’s an emo nobody. The stage is definitely set for an all out showdown between them in the final arc like a present day incarnation of the eternal battle between them shown in previous issues of the arc.

In The Wicked + the Divine #39, Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson go for the pivotal character moment over mass character slaughter (There aren’t many left.) and deliver callback heavy payoff for fans who have followed Laura Wilson/Persephone’s journey over the past four years. The closing moments where Laura muses on her decision to no longer be a god have some of Gillen’s most insightful writing, have simple, yet elegant visuals from McKelvie and Wilson, and are a reminder of why character growth is one of the biggest assets of a serial medium like comics.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Jamie McKelvie Colors: Matthew Wilson
Story: 8.3 Art: 8.6 Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Wicked + The Divine #38

As The Wicked + the Divine #38 begins,the cast of characters that Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson has dwindled down, and they’re mostly bad eggs. And the good ones are irreparably damaged either physically or in spirit. Like every issue of this arc, WicDiv #38 begins with a flashback to the 1940s and 1950s where British poet and classicist Robert Graves is inspired by Ananke to write his seminal work The White Goddess about how goddess worship leads to inspiration, poetry, and is the “mother of all invention”. It’s very in much in keeping with the spirit of WicDiv as Gillen and McKelvie uncover more of the inner workings of the Pantheon, Ananke, Minerva, and the world of their story. With its juxtaposition of storytelling mechanics and intense character psyche burrowing, WicDiv  #38 is a pretty strong middle issue, and the the varied color schemes by Wilson are a nice treat.

In WicDiv #38, Minerva has blossomed into a fantastic villain maneuvering plots and manipulations in a manner that would make Ananke crack a smile from beyond the grave. Despite everything going to hell in a hand basket, Woden thinks he’s still in control because he has the Norns in the jail and thinks that he can do whatever he wants. For example, he makes a video of out of context moments of WicDiv painting Urdr as a dangerous rabble rouser just like her old name’s mythological equivalent, Cassandra. But this is definitely not the case as Woden sees the graffiti heavy and disfigured heads of the Pantheon members and freaks out while McKelvie draws Minerva in another panel with a shit eating grin as she knows exactly what is going on. She hides her plans for the endgame behind surprised expressions, childlike wonder, and two face dialogue that Woden won’t get even while he repeats his new favorite word, “subtext”.

Until a foreboding final line of dialogue on the last panel, Persephone and Baphomet’s scenes in the Underground might not seem as connected to the big ur-story of goddess vs. goddess, inspiration, and ritual sacrifice even if Persephone is the Destroyer and locked in eternal combat with Ananke. However, the quiet moments the once and future likable/not likable fans-turned-deities are the most human of WicDiv #38. Baphomet has really been the emotional carotid artery of this story arc and following Morrigan’s sacrificing herself for him after killing, there is definitely arterial spray. Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson finally get to descend into the deepest darkness with a blacker than black color palette and the tragic combined logo of a crow and pentagram and the even more tragic panel of Morrigan, Gentle Annie, and Badb lifelessly levitating in their temple. Although he was resurrected, Baphomet is crippled by grief and wants to stay in the shadows and not play an active role in the plot any more.

This listlessness extends to Persephone, who is pregnant and can’t really get anyone to empathize with her. Kieron Gillen goes full navel gazing, and McKelvie brings in a six panel grid to contain her thoughts and walk back to her and Sakhmet’s old crash pad. The real emotions comes when she picks up her old cracked and cellphone and thinks about how ridiculous Laura Wilson’s dream of godhood was. Her wish isn’t for righting wrongs or redemption, but just oblivion. This whole becoming a god thing wasn’t worth it, and perhaps walking down a dark, never ending tunnel that corresponds with McKelvie and Wilson’s all black panels is her retirement from divinity. Certainly, a panel on the final page echoes that idea, but Gillen, McKelvie, and Wilson keep Persephone’s fate ambiguous: a sad, juicy hook for the arc finale.

WicDiv #38, and the whole “Mothering Invention” arc by extension, has been an exercise in looking at the biggest picture possible of Pantheons, past and present, by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson. They show how the world works, establish innocents as villains, kill or incapacitate various darlings, and blur the lines between inspirational power and ritual sacrifice. There are lots of flashbacks, sure, but WicDiv #38’s sequences are more straightforward and connected to immediate plot and bigger themes of the series with some room for visual play with Wilson using a faded, almost monochromatic style for the Graves scenes that is like an old photograph.

And, most of all, Gillen, McKelvie, and Wilson don’t forget the characters we’ve cheered for, sneered at, and connected to a little too deeply even though it seems that everyone has lost their way. Minerva is great baddie, and in a weird fan crossover universe, is beating Young Avengers Kid Loki at his game over and over again like the eternal battle Persephone and Ananke were locked in.

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

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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: Persephone

It’s Wednesday which means it’s new comic book day with new releases hitting shelves, both physical and digital, all across the world. This week we’ve got a new spin on a classic Greek myth!

Persephone is by Loïc Locatelli-Kournwsky.

Get your copy in comic shops today and book stores May 22. To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/Kindle/comiXology or TFAW

 

BOOM! Studios provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
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Review: The Wicked + The Divine #36

In WicDiv #36, the book is almost threatened to be swallowed up in act of formalistic hubris, but then Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson regain the thread and ride the relationship between Baal and Peresphone and last issue’s reveal that Baal is a child murderer to a solid, if sad ending (That’s a trend with this series.) On a pure geek (and fashion) level, it’s fascinating to see six millennia of recurrences, and the different, if repetitive iterations of Ananke and Persephone dueling until the end of time in lovely six panel McKelvie grids. It made me wish I still had my World History textbook from high school complete with big ass timeline to compare the events of WicDiv to what was actually going on in the world. There are some great history/religion/mythology nerd references along the way, and with the exception of its deepest roots aka the ending, the proverbial iceberg of the series has been completely revealed. Each panel of Ananke and Persephone locked in mortal combat from across time could launch any number of fan fiction prompts or even spinoffs like what Lucifer and The Dreaming were to The Sandman.

However, even though the 14 page opening sequence is a mini-masterpiece in historical formalism, varied colored palettes, setting and costume design, and research from Gillen, McKelvie, and Wilson, it definitely seems overly self-indulgent. This is even in comparison to other experimental issues of WicDiv like the rave issue which introduced the integral and beautiful character of Dionysus (RIP), the remix issue which fleshed out Woden’s character and had important plot details, and even the Kevin Wada fashion magazine issue, which deepened reader awareness of the WicDiv cast through prose and pinups. Unfortunately, the beginning of WicDiv #36 halts the story’s momentum and only serves in repeating the point that Ananke and Persephone have been at war for millennia, which was established in the beautiful flashback open of WicDiv #34. It doesn’t really add any new information or emotional resonance to their dynamic and is just a showcase for McKelvie’s skill with gestures and clothing. A few iconic images would have driven home the point of the high, historical stakes of the battle between Persephone and Ananke, and that Laura’s transformation isn’t particularly novel, but the constant variations of the same battle or conversation grow tiring. It’s really something that seems like it would belong in a future “Visual Companion to WicDiv“, as a short story in an annual/special type issue, or as bonus material in a future hardcover.

Thankfully, the last third of WicDiv #36 almost ends up saving the entire book and acts like the character showcase for Baal that he never got when the guest artists were doing one-off issues with different Pantheon members. (After reading this book, there was a reason for that.) It also firmly aligns him against Persephone, who may or may not being carrying his child, and with Minerva and the late Ananke, who are willing to do whatever it takes to stem the tide of the Great Darkness, including killing children. To take a page out of Protestant Christian theology, Baal is practicing “propitation” and making these child sacrifices every so often to placate a scary force that threatens all life and inspiration and on a more personal note, to protect his family because he still wants to be Valentine Campbell. Hence, the defensive postures that Jamie McKelvie draws him in and the flame red color palette from Matthew Wilson, including just three full pages of red with minimal text.

In fact, to go with the minimalism, Kieron Gillen goes for a more direct mode of dialogue and narration instead of using quips and fun ornamentation to show how dark and serious the story has gotten at this point. Baal is no longer Kanye swaggering around; he’s a broken, yet deadly vessel for the Great Darkness. Persephone realizes that in her captions, and McKelvie unleashes the waterworks as well as that intense blink you do when someone betrays your trust to the uttermost confirming his continued status as a great artist of both subtle and over the top human expressions. And then, Persephone doesn’t use her powers for attack, but to escape from the flaming destruction of Baal. But she’s still completely alone, and the phone that was her comfort in earlier of issues in WicDiv is no help at all. Gillen and McKelvie have her completely cornered and alone just waiting to be slaughtered like many earlier iterations of Persephone…

WicDiv #36 is really a tale of two comics so hence the mixed review score. There’s the artsy, fartsy, shoving-the-theme-of this arc down readers’ throats first half with a side of impressive worldbuilding. Then, there’s the intense, relationship driven latter half that uses an ever intensifying scarlet palette from Matthew Wilson, agile character acting from Jamie McKelvie ,and emotionally honest writing from Kieron Gillen to reach another tragic low point in the journey of “more than a superstar” Laura-turned-Persephone. It’s really a study in how to both ineffectively and effectively use flashback towards the end of a longform narrative and really freaking sad for all your former Baal fan-people out there.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Jamie McKelvie Colors: Matthew Wilson Letters: Clayton Cowles
Story: 6.2 Art: 8 Overall: 7.1 Recommendation: Read

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Persephone HC

Persephone HC

Publisher: Archaia, an imprint of BOOM! Studios
Writer: Loïc Locatelli-Kournwsky
Artist: Loïc Locatelli-Kournwsky
Cover Artist: Loïc Locatelli-Kournwsky
Translator: Edward Gavvin
Letterer: Deron Bennett
Price: $19.99

French author Loïc Locatelli-Kournwsky presents a modern-day retelling of the Greek myth of Demeter and her daughter Persephone in an exciting universe that blends high-fantasy adventure with visuals reminiscent of Japanese anime and 1950s American-style comics.

Persephone may be the adopted daughter of the famous magician Demeter, but she struggles to find her place alongside such a force of nature.

Persephone’s desire to find out where she belongs takes her on an epic adventure deep into the Underworld, where she’ll discover who—or what—she is.

BOOM! Studios and Archaia Release a First Look at Persephone

BOOM! Studios reveals some summer reading from their imprint Archaia with an extended first look at Persephone.

Arriving in stores this May, Persephone follows a young girl whose search for the truth about her identity leads her on a journey deep into the Underworld by visionary writer/artist Loïc Locatelli-Kournwsky. She may be the adopted daughter of the famous magician Demeter, but Persephone struggles to find her place alongside the force of nature that is her mother. Driven by recurring nightmares, she decides to explore the secrets of her birth, which everyone around her seems rather intent on keeping from her. With or without their help, Persephone will embark on an epic adventure deep into the Underworld where she’ll discover who—or what—she is.

Review: The Wicked + the Divine #35

In The Wicked + the Divine #35, Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson begin to gleefully tear down the elaborate story castle they have been constructing for almost four years. The story begins with a flashback to 1923, and by extension, the actual WicDiv #1 as the 1920s Pantheon says its au revoirs, and I had a mini panic attack that But then McKelvie and Wilson lay down an explosion with clashing colors, and the book’s structure of 12 gods, every 2 years, Ananke being into necessity, and warding off the Great Darkness is called into question.

Throughout the two issues of the “Mothering Invention” arc, Gillen and McKelvie have really made Minerva earn her stripes as the goddess of wisdom and craft. Especially after WicDiv #35, you could see her as the strategist who bankrolled Odysseus’ wiliness and had enough of a petty side to turn one of her rivals into a nasty little spider. Minerva’s portrayal, both in 1923 and the present day, hits a sweet spot between innocent and malevolent. The vapid lush Susanoo of “a drink or forty” fame thinks she’s too afraid to participate in the apocalypse cancelling mass suicide, but she’s really just being manipulative and a tender hug turns into a head explosion/”teleporty” thing. McKelvie’s art in the flashback matches the excess of the age of flappers and philosophers with eyeballs flying out of Ananke’s head and plenty of blood and gore. And there’s plenty of red and orange flames from Wilson, which made this comic pair nicely with fever symptoms.

Even if it might get lost under the Jazz Age inferno, the Woden holding a gun to Minerva’s head thing, and definitely the third act Baal thing, Gillen and McKelvie cleverly connect present Minerva to her previous incarnation. They also use the relatable anxiety of someone typing for a long time on a text message to build suspense. Minerva has  played the innocent, bun wearer for too long, but finally her hair is down (Nice ombre, by the way.) and her scheming self is beginning to kick into high gear as she plays a game of mutual blackmail with Woden and another game of witholding information with Urdr.  However, Persephone still underestimates Minerva and decides to go solo into Baal’s secret room. The duality of Minerva’s nature (Aged plotter, innocent child) is summed up in  a great panel of her with lines and a frustrated expression on her that looks like maybe she could be thousands of years old as Woden continues to mess with her plan.

OldWomanMinerva

 

Even while it’s paying off plot lines from issues and years back in dramatic fashion, WicDiv #35 still doesn’t neglect human side of things. Kieron Gillen finds time for introspection via caption boxes revealing Persephone’s inner thoughts as she tries to piece her relationships back together after deciding to basically fuck off, embrace anarchy, and sleep with a murderer. However, these thoughts keep getting cut off by Woden chasing the Norns, who have the talking head of his son, Jon. Maybe, the former friendship between Laura and Cassandra can be rekindled by Persephone and Urdr mutually escaping. At least, we get to see Skuld and Verdandi’s abilities to get the spotlight for a brief moment with the help of a beautiful green palette from Matthew Wilson.

However, the real relationship that gets pushed to the breaking point in WicDiv #35 is the complicated one between Baal and Persephone, and it ends up getting intertwined with main plot and cliffhanger. Baal’s fresco from WicDiv #4 makes a muted return and is drawn more like a self-loathing Kanye slow jam from 808s and Heartbreak than a well-lit, triumphant bit of baroque glory from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy or swaggering hubris from Yeezus. It’s just a facade like the lightning chain he wears on his neck to claim that he’s the powerful death and rebirth Baal and not the child sacrifice cult one.

AwwBaal

In a nice bit of craft,  McKelvie takes his time with six panels, six unkind cuts to Persephone and readers’ hearts instead of doing an explosive splash. This gives readers a moment alone with her to sum up their connection that went from fangirl to romantic couple to enemies and lot of stops in between. Then, the issue ends in all fire and frenzy with Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson harnessing the energy that has made WicDiv such a visual delight. The reveal of Baal’s secret room is such a big deal that he goes into full Heisman Trophy winning running back mode and stiff arms Minerva while going to the scene of his, well, crimes. The pose that McKelvie chooses for Baal is so powerful and is a memorable image before he and Gillen cut to another flashback as Persephone does the proverbial math in her head about her ex-fangirl crush/boyfriend/complicated leader of another Pantheon faction. It’s one hell of a way to end an issue, and May can’t come soon enough.

WicDiv #35 shows that Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson can play the long game with the best of them while still crafting a story that is a strong on an artistic and emotional level. The Baal and Minerva twists work because readers have had the chance to connect with them and see them form relationships with other characters (And each other). I still don’t know how a man who could have such a tender relationship with the now-talking-head Inanna  could be such a monster, but it’s one of many great questions raised by this comic that have me hooked until the end of the line.

Your fave will always end up being problematic…

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Jamie McKelvie Colors: Matthew Wilson
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.8 Overall: 9.7 Recommendation: Buy 

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Wicked + the Divine #34

Wow, there’s a lot to unpack in The Wicked + the Divine #34. Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson kick things off with an extended trip back in time to the first Pantheon where the rules are made, gods created, and children killed in the name of necessity. It’s a violent tone poem with a dying light palette from Wilson and a rhythmic grid layout from McKelvie, who depict the original Ananke and her sister with age lines from love and war. These sequence is also the proverbial face has launched a thousand fan theories. Until the final series of juxtaposed images (A comic within a comic, hmm.), nothing in the issue quite reaches the heights of WicDiv #34, and that’s okay as Gillen is engaged in a game of putting the pieces scattered across the board together for one last battle royale a la the finale of this series.

From what I’ve put together, it seems like the opening scene is a Seventh Seal chess game between Ananke and the Destroyer, or Persephone. (Minerva aka the new Ananke might be involved as well, and even if she doesn’t appear in the comic, her presence affects the present day scenes greatly.) On a metafictional level, it could also be read as Gillen and McKelvie setting up the rules, themes, and characters for their new world and then murdering their new creations in brutal full page manner with cool magical effects from Wilson. To get a little less mythical and a little more political, this conversation represents aging conservatives consumed by greed and doing whatever they can to prolong their lives and comfort at the expense of future generations. It is a fantastic sequence craft-wise especially with different effects and hues that Matthew Wilson pulls off in his color palette and acts as a creation myth for WicDiv, its own Music of the Ainur.

Most of the present is Persephone, Urdr (Who has stripped her fellow Norns of their power because she is easily the Beyonce to their Kelly and Michelle in a great gag from Gillen.), and Jon trying to sort out their current situation and by extension, the current status quo in the series. Gillen and McKelvie also use this time to let readers know a little more about the Jon, the poor erudite boy whose abilities were used and abused by his father in the ultimate stage parent move. He is fairly chilled out and erudite with dialogue like “Change is just change. It’s neither good nor bad. It simply is” that definitely needed a beat panel of Persephone and Urdr scratching their heads after it. Jon is also there to deliver the exposition about the talking god heads and Luci’s murder, and everything is all messed up and extremely awkward between Persephone and Urdr.

Kieron Gillen seems to be writing Persephone a lot like Laura in WicDiv #34 with her fangirl side all but eroded thanks to events of the series general. Unlike the situation with her and Sakhmet, Persephone is a straight shooter and tells Urdr that she thinks something is off with Minerva even if the journalist-turned-face palming, former triplicate goddess doesn’t act on this. The enclosed space has turned her more honest and kind, and McKelvie even shows a subtle trace of nostalgia on her face when she thinks about Luci being a talking head and beyond a shadow of a doubt not being a murderer. Maybe, she will end up being the flawed heroine we deserve, or maybe I’m just being a naive fan.

With a symphonic prologue, WicDiv #34 cascades to its endgame, and Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson place the series in sharp, big picture contrast before starting to unravel an overarching plot that is entering year four (Oh god, I’ve been writing about this book for almost four years.) But, along the way, they never lose sight of their flawed, well-sketched characters, or Persephone and Urdr in this case.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Jamie McKelvie Colors: Matthew Wilson
Story: 7.7 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.3  Recommendation: Buy 

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

The Secret to ‘Persephone’s’ Identity Lies in the Underworld in BOOM! Studios’ New Original Graphic Novel

BOOM! Studios has announced Persephone, Loïc Locatelli-Kournwsky’s moving original graphic novel (OGN) about a young girl whose search for the truth about her identity leads her on a journey deep into the Underworld. Inspired by the Greek myth of Demeter and her daughter, the eponymous Persephone, the book is a modern-day fantasy adventure featuring an emotionally nuanced story and lush art. Persephone will debut May 2018.

In Persephone, she may be the adopted daughter of the famous magician Demeter, but Persephone struggles to find her place alongside the force of nature that is her mother. Driven by recurring nightmares, she decides to explore the secrets of her birth, which everyone around her seems rather intent on keeping from her. With or without their help, Persephone will embark on an epic adventure deep into the Underworld where she’ll discover who—or what—she is.

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