Welcome to Wicked Intervention, Multiversity’s new monthly annotation for Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilsons “The Wicked + The Divine”. Though Gillen already does a stellar job of covering his own titles with the notes he has on his Tumblr (link here), we feel WicDiv is still the type of book that warrants further discussion. Today, we look at the first issue, first meetings, and time as a flat vinyl. As should be pretty obv by now, massive spoilers are afoot.
Cover Pages – Allow Me to Introduce Myself
McKelvie and Wilson making all the covers to this series by making each one (so far) a headshot of one of the titular WicDivs. This month sees two covers come out for both Laura, our would-be hero, and Lucifer, our would-be Vergil. Since we’ve already go out our lovelies lined up for us let’s take a look at both characters.
Laura – Laura is you. Laura is me. Laura’s every teenager who spends days listening to the same recently discovered record over and over again because it’s like someone finally understands. Someone finally understands in a way that’s not even necessarily said, so much as communicated through the biting words in their lyrics that just have to be written about you. Hell, the rhythm of their instruments alone can convey waves of emotion that you might feel drowned in. Who are They? I don’t know. For me it’s Los Campesinos! and The Go! Team. For you it’s probably Morissey or something.
For Laura, her They are the resurrected gods that are beginning to sprout out, as they’re destined to every 90 years. Laura’s dedication to the gods is very important as it seems to be one of the more significant parts of her personality. I’ll touch upon this more later on, but Laura is the type of fangirl who isn’t just enamored with her idols, she yearns to be one of them. That’s pretty much everyone, isn’t it? I know a lot of Multiversity readers are also aspiring comic creators, or creators themselves. I go to improv shows all the time because I want to upset my parents with my career choice.
Just because Laura’s defined by her desire doesn’t mean she’s an empty character. In fact it makes her even more universally relatable. Still, as someone aspiring to play as a god and play by the lethal rules that come with it, Laura’s definitely not someone playing for small stakes. You know, like an aspiring improviser or something.
The name Laura comes from Laurus, which is a late-Latin name (link here) that meant “laurel”. As laurels were used in the garlands that were awarded to victors, this name will hopefully give Laura some luck in becoming one of the Wicked and the Divine, maybe even the top dog. Her musical namesake, “Laura” by Bats for Lashes hints so as well.
“You’ll be famous for longer than them
Your name is tattooed on every boy’s skin
Ooh Laura, you’re more than a superstar”
Of course there’s more to that song than just those lyrics. Hell, I’d call it one of the best break-up songs of all time but I feel we need to be further along in the story before I properly analyze that.
Luci – Lucifer, the Prince of Lies, the Morning Star. The fallen angel goes by many names but here she’s Luci: a Thin White Duchess and one of the twelve Wicked and the Divine.
Luci here is the vessel of one of the first big bads, Lucifer. It’s important to distinct Lucifer from the pitchfork wielding, Lord of the Flies, devourer of worlds Satan that everyone gets in a tizzy about. Lucifer, the morning star, is much more glamorous. So glamorous in fact that upon seeing God’s new creations (us) he refused to attend the baby shower and was thus struck down in a war in Heaven which led to Lucifer being sent to Hell and becoming its ruler. Tough gig.
Lucifer isn’t necessarily evil, but definitely has a large enough ego to upset others (like the press, haters, God, etc.). To be honest, can you blame her? Look at her and every other god in this title. They’re all meant to be 17 and have already achieved a mass following, perfect looks, and godly powers. Why would they ever want to stoop down to the human level, when it’s so much less than they are?Continued below
Whatever the reason, Luci defies her historical precedent in this issue by reaching out to super-fan Laura and taking her backstage where the gods roam. Was Luci defying the divine creature who she’s supposedly been imbued with? Does she see something in Laura that no one else does? Was she looking to get laid? We’ll surely find out as their relationship plays out.
Also of note, this isn’t the first time that Lucifer’s made an appearance in comics, nor is it his/her first time appearing as a David Bowie lookalike. In a little-known underground comic written by the underrated Neil Gaiman, Lucifer appeared with a David Bowie as The Thin White Duke aesthetic before getting his own series written by Mike Carey, also under Vertigo Comics. Don’t worry we’re going to reference Vertigo a lot as the series goes on.
New Year’s Eve 1923, the day the first transatlantic radio signal was broadcast. On this day, mass communication took its big first step as the remaining young gods of this time are gathered to end their cycle, the last one that wouldn’t be swamped with paparazzi and mass lamestream media. From here on out, the gods will transcend urban legend into being widely broadcasted icons that can be replayed for eternity. Can’t imagine that wont’ mess up the cycle somehow.
According to this Hickmanesque graphic, there are four left and the other eight are deceased as indicated by the skulls which are likely to be a recurring image in this book. Also a recurring thing, the phrase “once again” but we’ll get to that in a second.
Who these four remaining gods are is a bit of a mystery, though Susanoo, Japanese god of storms and the sea and sister to Amaterasu, is revealed later on and likely represented by the thunderbolt emblem. I still have a lot of mythological research to catch up on so the remaining three emblems are a little fuzzy. The owl symbol seems likely to be Athena and the ram might be Aries but I doubt pantheons would cross over in the same generation like that.
Oh hey look, a skull. And a Vertigo reference.
As has been mentioned countless times now, this opening line “And once again, we return to this” is a bastardization of the opening line to Grant Morrison’s “The Invisibles”, a Vertigo series in the 90’s that detailed a cell of mind-bending terrorists as they upset the foundations of society, the government, and reality. It’s also a roadmap full of cultural references to everything you need to read, watch, or snort to be hip. Ultimately it became adapted into Cartoon Network’s Codename: Kids Next Door and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. One of the most iconic scenes from the first issue featured main character and author avatar King Mob communicating with the godhead of John Lennon. The idea of pop culture icons being revered as gods is something that you can imagine will come into play with WicDiv.
“The Invisibles” dealt heavily with time and its circular nature years before True Detective made time a flat circle. WicDiv seems to be taking up the mantle with its gods who, by their nature, are working on a circular nature. Every 90 years they sprout up, are loved and adored, and then die. No matter how many fans they gather, how many concerts they sell out or celebrities they hook up with, after two years all the gods will have to come back to this: a giant skull staring them dead in the face, ready to takes its payment. As for whose skull that is sitting here, we’re going to get an answer in a second.
Page 3 – Panel 1
It’s actually eight skulls… all gathered from the eight deceased gods. Yikes. Not all of them died peaceful deaths either, as shown by the one skull missing half its cranium. You don’t get those types of injuries from mere syphilis, my friend. Trust me.
Page 3 – Panels 2-5
And here we have the remaining Class of Young Gods 1923. Susanoo’s chilling with his lightning bolt cufflinks, it seems Flapper’s checking the layout of the room, Mr. Stern Face is making shadow puppets, and Goldilocks should’ve lived in an era with Youtube make-up tutorials. Or juggalo culture. Anywhere she could fit in. If I had to match up the last three with icons it’d be Stern Face for the ram (stubborn), Goldilocks for the owl (eye-makeup game strong) and Flapper’s the sun emblem due to her lovely dress. Of course, I am likely wrong. Riding blind here, y’all.Continued below
Despite Susanoo’s attempts to delay the inevitable, if only for a drink or forty, the other gods agree to finally start ending the cycle.
Interesting to note, this ritual seems to be completely voluntary. Gods don’t automatically drop like flies after two years, they need to off themselves or be killed in order to perpetuate the cycle.
It’d be a real shame if someone rebelled against that. Or if their captured image was enough to technically keep them alive.
Also, “au revoir” translated literally from French into English as “Bye for now.” Though death may be permanent on this realm, certainly for their vessels, this doesn’t’ seem to be the end for 1923.
It’s sad to note the characters’ reactions to their impending death. Susanoo and Flapper are noticeably scared, Stern Face looks very stern and angry about this and Goldilocks looks straight up delighted.
Also, you can bet your farm that 1-2-3-4 is going to come back quite often. Often used to count in a song, here we’re counting in
Page 7 – Panel 1
A massive explosion. Rest in pieces, class of 1923.
The cause of said explosion seems to be the finger snaps everyone used during the count-in. As will be shown later, one snap can blow up a person’s head. If four can blow up an entire house you have to wonder what twelve can do.
Page 7 – Panel 3
“Once again, we return.” Who the hell is we? Y’all friends just exploded themselves. Really though, it seems likely this woman is working as an order for multiple gods, not just Class of 1923. Either way, we are going to return to this scene when the Class of 2014 has to finish their cycle.
More Hickman graphics! Now we’ve got nine confirmed gods hanging around on New Year’s Day 2014. Again, I’m pretty terrible at decoding gods’ crests and since a lot of pantheons share different symbols there’s tons of overlaps. Pretty sure the pentagram is Lucifer though.
AGAIN WITH THE 1-2-3-4 IT’S ALMOST AS IF THIS IS GOING TO BE IMPORTANT.
Page 9 – Panel 3
Also, Laura’s doing the monologue for anyone who’s ever had a “cool” parent. One of the worst moments in my very tortured life was when my dad started watching Breaking Bad with me and had to comment on the legality of every scene. Like Laura says, you just want some stuff to be all yours.
Page 9 – Panel 4
Also, panel four has what’s likely to be Laura’s catchphrase: “I want this all to be mine.”
Page 9 – Panel 6
Amaterasu’s only been around for a couple weeks and by the way Laura’s phrasing it, Amaterasu might be the newest god. The timeline’s a bit fuzzy but it’s safe to say that the gods started popping up sometime in the latter half of 2013 at the earliest. Even then, Amaterasu’s proving to be wildly popular if she already has cosplayers so soon after incarnating. Of course, that didn’t stop life imitating art when we got an Amaterasu cosplayer mere days after issue #1 dropped.
Lots of parallels, intentional or otherwise, with WicDiv’s sister title Phonogram here. Compare Laura’s transformation to David Kohl’s in “Rue Britannia”. No matter the circumstance, proper worship must be accompanied by proper clothing. Also feel free to think on the similarities between Laura’s desire to change the face in the mirror with Emily Aster’s struggles in “The Singles Club”. Though Laura’s reflection doesn’t scream back at her, both characters have expressed a desire to completely change who they are. While Emily Aster was able to fit herself into a persona that best represented who she was, Laura’s dressing like another pop-star who’s already heavily influenced by Florence Welch, Stevie Nicks, and a literal Japanese god, among others. If Laura really does want to become one of the gods, she’s going to have to do it as whoever she ultimately decides Laura is, not as a copy.Continued below
And here we meet Laura’s idol, Amaterasu, giving one hell of a concert. “She’s just seventeen, no one believes she’s seventeen” not only alludes to musicians like Lorde who, again, no one believes are 17 but to the whole “I’m actually a thousands-of-years old god” deal many of Wicked and Divine have to go through.
We’ve also got some names of a couple gods we’re going to reckon with in the near-future. Baal, Sakhmet, Inanna, and Tara.
Plus, this splash and the following pages are great examples of an amazing concert. Some bands just play their songs, others middle about on stage and some? Those are the ones you come back for. The ones who move you like you’re the only one in the room, despite the hundreds around you. I was at one like this on Friday with Titus Andronicus at the Brooklyn Night Bazaar which is a nice free venue to check out if they’ve got a band you like. Even though Patrick Stickles has a very different aesthetic than Amaterasu (or likely any of the other gods) he and his band still gave a larger-than-life performance and controlled the entire crowd, who had devolved into a moshpit after the third chord of “No Future Part III: Escape From No Future”. During “A More Perfect Union”, the crowd jumped ahead on one of the lyrics (“I’m doing 17 on 70”) but Stickles screamed that he was the one singing, passive aggressively stared at the pit and strummed for a solid minute while nodding his head before going back into the song. In that moment, Patrick Stickles seemed immortal. I imagine Laura feels the same way about Amaterasu. If you’ve got a similar concert experience, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
Also of note throughout this whole sequence is how Amaterasu’s presence is absolutely glowing during the concert. That probably makes up for the fact there’s no band.
Page 13 – Panel 3
Oh my god! She’s… she’s looking at me! Ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmy-… Are those black holes in Amaterasu’s eyes? Seems having a Shinto god incarnate in you can lead to some physical side effects.
Page 14 – Panel 1
See that boy cumming in his pants? Yeah. I wouldn’t want my dad at that concert either, Laura. Also, what I said about being at a great concert where they’re looking right at you applies tenfold here, even if it’s hard to tell exactly what Amaterasu’s looking at with her solar eclipse eyes.
Page 14 – Panel 5
“A moment of hubris”? Dear, your entire existence so far has been nothing but hubris.
I like how the concerts in “The Wicked + The Divine” are so intense that there needs to be a medical bay for people who fainted from how great the bands were. I also like how Luci just finds the cutest unconscious girl, goes through her wallet, and waits for her to wake up. Pick up game strong.
Also shout-out to Luci for listing all the names I didn’t bother listing before.
I mentioned this before in Luci’s profile but notice how someone whose entire origin is backed on not wanting to even bother with humans is just hanging out here among the hungover and knocked out. Could she be defying her old nature or is there something truly divine about Laura?
Since this is the start of the Wicked and the Divine’s new cycle, rumors about their abilities are only just now gaining traction. Though Luci, at this point, seems intent on letting the rumors about her powers lay low.
Here Luci makes two pop culture references. The first, in response to Laura’s “I’m only just seventeen” is obviously “I Saw Her Standing There” by The Beatles which is their obligatory “We Fucked a Seventeen Year Old” song. Every band has one. “Norgaard” by The Vaccines, practically everything Aerosmith wrote. Every band has one. Luci’s implications that she’s into girls under seventeen is unfortunate and she seems to try and deflect it by references being brought up on The Beatles and her family (quoting Philip Larkin’s poem “This Be The Verse”). This is likely the first hint that Luci’s not exactly squeaky clean. Okay, second. She did reveal that her name is Lucifer, after all.Continued below
Luci takes her groupie to the after-party. Say hi to Sakhmet, the Egyptian warrior goddess of healing. Also say hi to both her harem and Rihanna inspired aesthetic. Also, Luci trying so hard to avoid needing to say the G word.
Oh boy. As a theater student at NYU living near Greenwich Village, I’ve heard Amaterasu’s self-involved explanation on the significance of artists dozens of times, just as Luci seems to act like she’s heard this speech dozens of times before. Why are the gods really here? At the moment, Amaterasu’s answer is the closest one with any spiritual power behind it but so far all they’ve done is inspire a bunch of teenagers and proceed to make them cum in a nightclub. I call that Friday.
The reporter mentions the PR line for not just the book, but the gods themselves. Imagine being a PR firm and getting called up by someone claiming to be Lucifer.
Also, thanks to our intrepid reporter who we’ll later know as Cassandra, we now learn a little more about the WicDiv system. Gods don’t just manifest on Earth with new bodies but incarnate in the bodies of teenagers. How much control is shared between the teen and the god is yet to be clear but it’s definitely not one-sided, as noted by Luci straight up mentioning her parents (unless that’s a reference to God fucking up Lucifer’s day).
Props to the WicDiv team for handling the inherent problem of cultural appropriation in their book straight on.
Ammy’s speech in those two panels really says a lot about Laura, who can sort of sense that as she leans over, invested in Ammy’s speech. It’s interesting to note how the latter claims to no longer feel like Hazel, but to be Amaterasu. “Hazel” has completely accepted this new paradigm in her life though other young gods may not be so in tune with themselves or the idea that they’re these divine creatures.
Luci herself seems to be one of the people disagreeing with Ammym if the eye roll .
You might think she’s lighting a cigarette while giving Amaterasu the evil eye but nope, there’s no cigarette. Luci’s just flipping Amaterasu off with the two finger salute while keeping her mouth shut. Most underrated visual gag in this entire book. Might not be too much of a reach to say there’s friction between the two. Edit: I’m completely wrong about this section. There’s a cigarette there, I just didn’t notice especially since it shows up later. From now on, we’ll be sure to triple-check all cigarettes and art details before going into why they’re actually excuses for people giving the finger.
Cassandra gives us the official name for the WicDiv cycle, “The Recurrence” and tries to explain it all away. Unfortunately for her, all the magic we’ve already seen so far is disproving her theories. Magic’s real here, this ain’t no con story. Instead, the reporter ends up spouting out hater rhetoric on how she doesn’t feel anything from the young gods. Maybe those who are heavily atheist or skeptical can’t buy into the Recurrence Crew. Reddit must really hate them.
In her hater rhetoric, Cassandra’s pointing out some fatal flaws in the young gods. Even if they’re perfect, their hosts aren’t (and mentioning Luci’s parents seems to be her berserk button). Thankfully, Sakhmet tackles Cassandra before things can get worse. I mean yes, they do get worse, but not in a Luci-on-Cassandra way.
If Hazel’s a girl who buys way too much into anything that can absolve her of her dreary existence and Luci’s a girl with family problems trying to build a tougher persona around what she’s been gifted with, does Sakhmet’s behavior mean she was literally a cat a couple months ago? Also, really great use of building up tension here as Luci picks up the laser point and…
The other bass drops.
The bullets flying in (and curving around Ammy, nice touch) are coming from a militant group identified by their cross necklaces. Can’t imagine hardcore Christians are too happy about the Recurrence, huh? Not only are other false gods proven real but while Christians get one god everyone else gets a dozen singing ones every century. And one of them is literally Lucifer. Of course some religious zealots would go after them!Continued below
Also, maybe it’s because I’ve been watching a lot of Orphan Black lately but I’m thinking of these guys as something similar to the Prolethean cult from that show. All these guys would need is a farm and creepy voices.
Luci hands Laura her cigarette which I’m sure didn’t exist for a couple panels.
Who needs a runway when you’ve got a broken window and the London skyline? Also, Luci’s not afraid of cutting her bare feet on the glass (the shoes were knocked off by Sakhmet earlier).
Boy. Comics, huh? You don’t get fight scenes like these anywhere else. Luci’s gingersnaps exploding The Proletheans’ (stealing that until we get a legit name) heads into pop-art confetti is genuinely something to behold. Luci seems to be into it, what with referencing the “Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones while right in the thick of it. Also, this seems to be the first time that the public has truly seen the power of the young gods. Not the best first impression, to be honest. Less blood would’ve probably worked in the gods’ favor.
I have a strong feeling that the reason for this trial is less for Luci murdering those men (it was self-defense!) and more to do with the fact that she can snap her fingers and explode people, holy hell. Also I’ve never seen much of a UK courthouse but Laura, Cassandra, and Amaterasu aren’t on the jury are they? How convenient would that be?
Oh my g-o-d, the guys in powdered wigs are so cute.
Luci is reveling in playing up her god front in this court house. Natural performer, that one!
Also I don’t want to jump the gun but her line “Declare me a god and crucify me. Precedents for that are interesting too.” may or may not be a reference to Jesus Christ.
Luci’s last name is Rigby, another Beatles reference. If she dies in a church and is buried along with her name but nobody came then the internet owes me five dollars.
Also, the judge confirms that Luci is indeed under trial moreso for being able to explode peoples’ heads than killing her attackers. Unfortunately, Luci’s pride won’t let her go quietly and she’s tempted to snap her fingers at him as a joke.
Pride comes before the fall, huh?
Luci claims she didn’t mean to explode the Honorable Judge Hater and if her shocked expression is any indication then yeah, she didn’t. Who could have killed the judge then? Obviously one of the gods, for one. They’ve all got the finger-snap power that can make a person’s head explode easy. The only other noted god in the room was Amaterasu which makes her the prime suspect but there’s still the slim chance that this was the work of a god who hadn’t made themselves publicly known yet. What other way to make a big splash than to knock off one of your rivals? We won’t know the answers for a while but we can at least hold on to the hope that issue #2 comes out this Wednesday and the second column of Wicked Intervention is sure to arrive in the following days.