The Wicked and The Divine has been hell of a ride, and with issue #22 upon us, it closes the fourth arc out with a bang (literally and figuratively). As it stands right now, at the end of the last issue we left off in the middle of an epic battle at Valhalla between the gods. We’ve got gods and goddesses pissed off at each other for all sorts of reasons, and then of course Woden just being Woden. Ananke is just about ready to sacrifice Minerva, and Persephone is leading the charge to stop her.
If W+D does one thing right, its pacing, and I’m glad that the finale of the fourth arc was a two-part affair. Yeah, Kieron Gillen might have been able to wrap things up nicely with a single issue, but when you’re running 20 pages a comic, and you’ve got your whole cast in one place it’s important to fill it out. Not only do we get to have brief moments with each character during the fight but nothing feels shallow. Gillen’s writing conveys just enough without giving too little, while focusing on what it needs too. It also allows for Jamie McKelvie and Mat Wilson to kick some series ass, art wise. This issue is focusing on a battle between gods after all and the powers that be are going full force.
While Ananke is getting ready to sacrifice Minerva, Amaterasu has gone to seek help from the one person who might be able to fix this, The Norns, specifically leading lady Cassandra. This moment solidified something specifically for me about Cassandra, when she asks Amaterasu why she came for her aid, Amaterasu responds “because you’re the grown-up.” This is not only huge for how Amaterasu views her, but also how the rest of the crew might start looking at her too. Persephone/Laura has already stated this in a way when she called for The Norns to reveal the dirt on Ananke, but this is something else. It not only foreshadows the end of this comic but possibly the responsibilities Cassandra might soon be taking upon herself.
The castle has been stormed, and things aren’t looking too good for Ananke, she seems panicked and in her panic she’s making mistakes. If you’ve been watching, it’s been obvious in everything she’s been doing. She’s rushing things, and in having put little faith in her pantheon she has lied and deceived them the whole way. I’m wondering how much is out of protection, and if she is protecting them, what are these dark forces she keeps referencing?
It’s interesting because half the time the pantheon is saying, “We didn’t choose this,” yet there are quite a few of them that did. In a way it makes Ananke right, she is after all the mother/protector for the gods, she’s been their watcher for an eternity. Yeah, maybe she’s gotten rusty with time, but there definitely seems to be truth in what she’s saying, and with the fifth arc up next I think we’ll see just what she was talking about. Hopefully our pantheon gets a little bit of rest and relaxation but who knows how long that will last.
While other parts of the series have focused on the juxtapositions of our own Western culture and what it means to be a youth/millennial in this day age it’s nice to see closure with the pantheons story specifically. It’s not that anything is over, but more that the end of an era is over, the reign of Ananke. Like I said though, mother knows best. It also still does play in to a reflection of our own culture, outrage culture. Acting immediately without taking the time to process what is happening, especially for events that can have a huge impact on society as a whole.
The final scene between Persephone and Ananke sums this up perfectly, Persephone has Ananke right where she wants her, all she has to do is snap her fingers and its bye-bye Ananke. And, while Ananke might be a “murderous old lady” as she is now known in her pantheon, she is also right in telling them that they are not thinking things through. She’s giving them the opportunity to get all the facts, and in a blind moment of revenge/outrage Persephone makes her decision. Of course how can you not feel for Persephone/Laura: She did lose her entire family to this woman, and for what, so she could become a god? This is why I love this comic, I’m so torn!
However you feel by the end of this one, like I said, it’s a new era and the kids are free to play. The last page is specifically amazing for closing out the arc. Now that mum’s away, let’s be the gods we always wanted to be. This worries me a little, no joke, I’m kind of scared of Persephone at the moment: What if she is the destroyer like Ananke was trying to tell them all along? That would be a bummer. Laura you’ve been with us the whole way, and seeing you go from human to god however briefly was hard enough, but now I’m wondering how much Laura is left.
The story will be picking back up in November with the beginning of the fifth arc, and we seem to be in for a very different Pantheon. Woden is still being his sleazy self, looking out for number one. I’m wondering just what alliances will be formed. If they will be getting rid of him as well? He did side with Ananke after all, and help build her death machine. I mean, I don’t like the guy, but again, a new age. Only time will answer all of these questions, so until then we can only wait.
Finally, I’d like to get back to this darkness that’s been brought up numerous times. Gillen said things would be slowing down after this arc, this being the most action packed arc of the series, but now we don’t have an antagonist. So while that leaves the kids to play for a bit enjoying their godhood to the fullest, it also could me things might start getting out of control. If the pantheons not careful the darkness could be closer than they think, but hey this is all my personal speculation. Whatever happens, the finale that was issue #22 closed things out perfectly, hitting all the right notes, and leaving just enough carrot dangling on the stick that I’m already ready for more.
Fun fact if you are a super big fan of The Wicked and The Divine, Olly Moss did an amazing variant cover that you should absolutely check out.
The collected volumes of The Wicked and The Divine can be found here, on Amazon, but if you’re a fan of hard copies like me run to your local comic shop!