Welcome to Wicked Intervention, Multiversity’s monthly annotation for Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson’s “The Wicked + The Divine”. This week we descend into hell, put on some unsexy finger cuffs and find out what was up with that masked lady from the first issue. Massive spoilers are ahead, natch.
Science and Visions – Theories and Rumblings From the Peanut Gallery
Okay, first things first. I’m not the illest. Even though I’m doing my damnedest to go over “WicDiv” as thoroughly as possible, I’m nowhere near the leading authority on music, comics, and mythology. Like, I’m up there, but I’m fallible.
So I highly encourage everyone to feel free to post their theories, as crazy as they might be, or anything else they think I might have missed. “WicDiv” is a really in-depth book and I feel like Wicked Intervention could be a good space (though definitely not the only one) to discuss theories, ships, etc.
As for the theories presented in the last column, there were some good guesses regarding the circle of symbols relating to the gods of the recurrence but I’m going to admit that I cheated and had read the second issue by the time I wrote that column. (Sorry, catinatree, though I’d suspected the same thing when I read issue #1. That’s why I also kept mum on the woman we now know to be Ananke. If I’d leaked that before the second issue came out, I would’ve been locked in a room with a Dave Matthews Band record or something just as awful.)
That said, one commentator intriguingly named Guest made a very interesting point about Cassandra’s name. It comes from the mythological Cassandra, who was cursed to see the future and make prophecies that would never be believed. It’s pretty apt considering how everyone’s pooing on our Cassandra and her cynicism towards the gods. That said, it may be well founded. Just as Myth!Cassandra was spurned and cursed by the gods (or more accurately, a douchebag Apollo), Cassandra might have her own beef with the Recurrence. But we’ll discuss that later on.
For now, let’s discuss our beauty queen, only seventeen, Amaterasu!
Allow Me To Introduce Myself – Cover Page
Amaterasu is the Japanese goddess of the sun and playable character in the video game Okami. Hazel Greenaway is a seventeen year-old girl from Exeter who would probably go to Coachella in a Native American headdress because that’s pretty much what she’s already doing dressing up as a Shinto goddess. We don’t get to see too much of her this issue, but she’s still a large player in “WicDiv”. Not only is she the first modern god we see, but she also seems to be the most ready for the spotlight. Like her totem, she has a radiance shine out from within her that makes her seem like the most normal of all the gods we’ve seen so far.
I mean, the other gods we’ve seen so far are a David Bowie cosplayer upset that she was “only” flirting with a seventeen year-old, a goddess who believes herself to literally be a cat, the temperamental Baal, Wodan and “his cheerily racist army of ethnic mono-cultured valkyrie fuck buddies”, fucking Tara, and two other characters whose first impressions were both decapitations. By comparison, the white girl appropriating Shinto culture in her Stevie Nicks by way of Ultimate Warrior outfit seems like the normal one.
Of course, appearances can be deceiving, especially in a world where teenagers can suddenly play host to the actual Prince of Darkness. Of all the characters we’ve seen, Amaterasu seems the most comfortable with her role as a pop god. And if her performance in the first issue was any indication, Ammy (hey look, now it’s a white man appropriating Shinto culture) knows how to let her sun powers work a crowd over.
Still, Ammy’s acceptance of her role might not bode well for everyone around her, especially anyone she might see as a threat who conversely sees her as a silly white girl playing culturally offensive dress up. After all, she was the only confirmed god in the courtroom last issue when The Finger Snap Heard Round The World occurred. And though Luci says Ananke didn’t come get her from her prison cell because she disobeyed Ananke, it could also be possible that Amaterasu never went to get her. Amaterasu seems like a character who has plenty of layers left, and it’s going to be interesting to see how she progresses as a character.Continued below
And once again, we return to this. After the events of last issue where Luci was thrown in jail for asploding a judge’s head, her symbol on the wheel has been jailed to reflect her current status. As of right now, she’s the only confirmed emblem with the pentagram in the corner though it’s fair to assume the panther circle is Sakhmet, the Valkyrie looking symbol is Wodan (who we’ll get to later) and Amaterasu’s the sun symbol up top. As for the other gods its anyone’s guess at this point though I’d wager Morrigan’s the skull on the bottom. Maybe Baal’s the ram and Tara the comedy and tragedy masks?
Feel free to leave any theories and guesses in the comments.
Really cool zooming-in effect on Luci’s whispering to Amaterasu. I also like how the latter rushes over to Luci, calms down (her hair, not just her body), and then dashes off again. I also love the effect of Amaterasu getting out of the frame when the guards come to reveal Laura listening in.
As for Ananke, you can bet she’s going to play a very big role in our immediate future.
And here we meet Laura’s family who seem to be big proponents of sockcore. It’d be crazy to say that Laura’s space on the floor is meant to reflect how she feels she doesn’t have a space with us mundanes, right? Even if her parents or sister scooched over, there’d still hardly be any space for her to breathe.
Also making a much bigger entrance is the Canaanite god of fertility, storms, and overall king Baal. As one might expect, the Pantheon is none too pleased with Lucifer’s outburst (heh, burst) and the ensuing PR storm that came with it. Though with his Kanye West turned up to 11 interview style, Baal’s not helping the Pantheon’s reception either. Thank the FCC Baal wasn’t interviewed live.
On one hand, it’s easy to think Wolf’s questioning whether or not the gods see themselves as “better” than humans is just Gotcha Journalism™ (and honestly, it’d be every journalists dream to mess with an actual god via interview) but this might come from a place of insecurity as well, on two fronts. For one, celebrities like Blitzer now have to recognize that they’re not inherently special, as literal gods walk among them and presumably sell more tickets. Also, peoples’ entire religious beliefs are being utterly deconstructed by the existence of a dozen teenagers. Millenials might get behind that a hundred percent, but older generations like Blitzer’s may not appreciate having systems they’ve trusted for their entire lives get thrown out the window by a pop star who curses on TV. How could they possibly cope with anything besides fear?
Also I like how Baal’s the only one willing to fight the media on the stories they’re spinning about the Pantheon, the rest of whom have given up otherwise.
Laura’s parents seem pretty #cool what with Laura’s dad trying to get a rise out of her by making fun of the Recurrence. It’s not entirely clear whether or not Laura’s dad believes in the Recurrence or not, but he definitely loves riling up his daughter for giggles.
But really, Ananke’s isn’t so much a god as she is a manifestation of fate. Along with Chronos, the personification of time, she marked the beginning of the universe in Greek mythology. In terms of the Greek hierarchy, she’s above gods and titans to be just a straight up force of nature. And if you’re familiar with Greek mythology of any sort, you know Fate is the most powerful force. Over half those stories revolve around someone hearing about their own future, deciding it ain’t for them, and then having it happen anyway. It’s because of Ananke that Oedipus turned out to be such a motherfucker.
You can imagine that Laura would want to have a force like fate on her side, considering how it figuratively and literally decides whether or not she’ll become one of the Pantheon.
Page 6Continued below
And here we have Holloway Prison, which is an actual place in London. We also have some of Luci’s followers who aren’t nearly as devoted as Laura, the person actually going into the prison to try and help Lucifer rather than looking cool on the steps while talking and having a light.
As someone who studies drama at an arts school, I’ve heard Laura’s rhetoric here dozens of times and said them even more. Her dedication to becoming one of the Pantheon is methodical and quite possibly one of the only things she has. It’s actually the excellent subject of an essay by Tumblr user floating-world-pictures. They talk a lot about the Apollonian/Dionysian dialectic between Laura and all the other gods in this book. The Apollonian relates to the more calculating and rational thought while the Dionysian is the train of thought named after a god known for wine and fertility. While Laura is actively trying to become blessed, that pursuit seems to be her major trait. As floating-world-pictures (who presumably has a real name) says, “Laura never will be a god. She is far too calculating, too Apollonian, in her pursuit of that identity. She cannot get out of her own head enough to occupy that identity.”
If Laura were to become one of the Pantheon she’d lose what precious identity she has. Despite what many people believe, the credits don’t roll the moment you become famous. Laura’s going to have to recognize that as a performer she currently has nothing. She’s studying everything she can, listening to the right people, but also shutting everyone out entirely including her friends, classes, and family. She selfishly clings to this idea that she can be beloved without providing anything that would make her an interesting act to watch. She wants the world but conversely wants to give nothing in return. Laura can dress up like Amaterasu, rattle off facts about Lucifer’s history, but that still doesn’t make her anything but a fangirl with access to some make-up and Wikipedia.
If you go out to the theatre to see A Streetcar Named Desire, you don’t want to see an actor doing an imitation of Marlon Brando, you want to see Stanley Kowalski. Sure, Laura can do imitation, her cosplay game with Ammy last issue was on point, but she doesn’t offer anything that’s ubiquitous to her. By throwing away everything that made her who she was (family, education, friends) she’s crawling closer and closer to fulfilling the prophecy she’s making in those last two panels. Laura’s obsession has warped her into a blank slate that won’t have a future beyond “#1 Fangirl”.
I really like Lucifer’s finger cuffs. I spent three minutes trying to snap my fingers with index and middle finger taped together and the results were less than successful. Another thing I like? Lucifer’s evil grin. A third thing I like? This column’s mood whiplash.
Note Lucifer being the ultimate Dionysian here. Despite her circumstances, she’s still making one lewd joke after the other which leads into our first of many band name contests.
Wicked Intervention Band Name Poll #1:
- Intangible Cunnilingus
- Wicked Tongue
- A Little Bit of Cocaine
- Class A Drugs
Let us know your choice in the comments! No matter the winner, “The Daily Mail’s Been Lying to Me” is the name of our first EP.
And here we have our answer as to who Ananke is: she’s the one who comes and informs the hosts that they’re to become one of the pantheon. They’re literally called to action by Fate.
As floating-world-picutres said in her essay, Luci doesn’t even seem like she’s eager or trying to become one of the gods. She’s just smoking in her backyard until Fate comes knocking at her door, not seeking out Ananke like Laura is. In fact, trying to become one of the Pantheon would be akin to fighting Fate for Laura which, if you’ve ever read a Greek play, does not bode well for our heroine.
I’ve watched Magical Girl Madoka and this is the scariest magical girl transformation I’ve ever seen. Yeesh.Continued below
Still, Ananke hits Luci with the Pantheon’s PR line, and through the fire forges a new identity, Lucifer.
And just like that, the Morning Star has lost her wings to become the fallen angel.
I’m still not entirely clear on how this process works. Luci seemed to more or less the person she always was, referring to her friends and family; she never complained about getting cast out of heaven or anything. There’s actually this great theory mentioned in Grant Morrison’s book Supergods about something I’m going to misquote as an “Olympus Hivemind.” Basically, many people knew the gods in pan-theological religions didn’t exist as actual beings but instead represented emotions or elements. When you were angry, you were possessed by the spirit of Ares god of war. When you were an excellent hunter, you were in Artemis’s favor, and so forth.
Applying this line of thinking to “WicDiv” helps inform why none of the Pantheon are straight up possessed by their respective gods: Baal was always a temperamental human before he became the host to a god of storms; Hazel’s an extroverted girl who could fill the room like the light of the sun; Luci, a mischievous spirit, maybe isn’t the actual Lord of the Pit or Eternal Fire but definitely of inspiration and rebellion. Effectively, the Pantheon may not be literal gods reincarnated so much as their spirit and essence given form; a missing link between prophet and god.
That said, Ananke’s embrace of Lucifer, saying she missed her, puts a bit of a damper on that theory. Then again, she may not miss Lucifer the Morning Star so much as his spirit.
Of course, it also implies they’ve met in the first place which is a pretty odd crossover for a Greek deity and a Judeo-Christian one. If I can go off on a tinfoil hat moment – and I will since this is my column – perhaps Ananke is serving the gods through the Recurrence. There’s no telling how far back the Recurrence goes, but there was a time when all of these now obscure or dead gods were widely worshiped. Perhaps as time went on and religions became more or less united and monotheist, various religious deities convened and came up with the Recurrence as a way to stay alive? It’d certainly give a much needed why to the Recurrence, with the two year expiration date acting as a failsafe to make sure all parties remain neutral.
Or they could’ve gone for brunch sometime. Eye dee kay.
“I need to be on a stage. If I can’t do that, it’s all so awfully pointless.” – Tattoo that across my face.
As I said before, Ananke hasn’t come for Luci though that still might be a question of Ananke being upset with Lucifer or Amaterasu never getting Ananke in the first place.
That last line is a direct throwback to the first issue of “Young Avengers” when Kate says “Being a superhero is awesome. Everyone should try it.” There’s certainly some more sinister complications here, spoken from Lucifer to a girl she might be playing over in a prison rather than by a post-coital Hawkeye. Then again, there’s still some time for intangible cunnilingus.
Luci offers to turn Laura into one of her demons but that’s not what she wants, especially if her delay on “something like you” is any indication. Laura surprisingly takes her up on this offer, though it’ll be interesting to see whether or not becoming a demon bars Laura from becoming a god or if Laura will even go through with the transformation.
There’s also our first mention of Wodan, who’s basically an Anglo-Saxon Odin. He’s like the Golden Age Flash to Odin’s Barry Allen, but if Carmine Infantino was also a barbarian.
Also this last row of panels seems very sweet though I can’t help but wonder if Luci’s showing affection for Laura or just desperation. At the very least, we have some tangible fingering in that last panel.
Yet more examples from Laura of her sacrificing friends in exchange for her pursuit. Hey Laura, as an A-lister on the Kim Kardashian game, I can confirm that networking is still a huge part of becoming famous.Continued below
Also, the return of our beloved Cassandra.
Imagine how you’d feel if you spent the huge amount of time towards getting a Masters in a field like comparative mythology only, dedicate your academic career towards studying a world-changing phenomenon, and then discover that they’re a bunch of teenagers in David Bowie cosplay who curse you off. You’d become the Squidward of the story too.
Cassandra does have a point beyond her bitterness though. From what we’ve seen, none of the Pantheon receive training or education in their roles. They’re a bunch of teenagers who are granted ultimate power and act exactly like you’d expect. And so far, they seem less interested in spreading an actual message and moreso in spreading their legs and selling out stadiums.
In the last panel, Cassandra makes a prediction that gets immediately brushed off. Just like her namesake, eh?
Real talk, there’s like an 80% chance that telling Laura, a girl who’s gone on and on about turning into one of the gods, that she can be transformed into something like a god in exchange for freedom does sound like the type of lie Lucifer would make.
Also, I love Cassandra finding a new way to capitalize on her degree after it got shat on by a culturally appropriating Florence Welch.
Fucking Tara, by the way, is the name of the Tibetan Buddhist Bodhisattva (or enlightenment being) who represents success. Aside from instances of people saying “Fucking Tara” we don’t know too much about her at this point except she seems to be one of the least popular gods.
Then again, we’ve only really heard about Tara from Laura. Maybe she used to be a friend of hers who ended up getting the Pantheon treatment? Though the line “She doesn’t see anyone.” might just mean she’s a recluse.
And here we have Laura breaking into the Strand tube station, which is also a real place. I’m actually going to London for a couple days in two weeks so I’ll be sure to try and see if I can’t take pictures of places from “WicDiv” like Holloway Prison and compare them to the comic. I might even try and break into Strand and see if I can’t find my way into the abandoned station where The Morrigan performs.
The Morrigan, by the way, is an Irish goddess of battle who is not to be trifled with.
I’m also a huge fan of Laura’s descent into the tube. It’s very reminiscent of a descent into Hell, though The Morrigan isn’t associated with any similar type of realm in mythology. It would fit in pretty well with another type of god.
Are all powers activated by finger snaps? Is Osiris going to show up looking like Snapper Carr? Oh well, at least The Morrigan will show up so-
Oh. Rest in RIP, Morrigan.
As our final circle page indicates, the guy with the happy trail and “American Vampire” cosplay is Baphomet. Baphomet’s a pagan god, allegedly worshiped by the Knights Templar. His goat-head (in mythology; his bad boy pretty face here doesn’t count) is one of the major reasons why goats are seen as Satanic animals. You know, besides them being assholes.
If Lucifer’s the Morning Star who warred with God, Baphomet’s the ungodly creature being worshiped in basements by hooded Freemasons led by Aleister Crowley. His actions may seem chaotic here, but it’s likely he took out Morrigan in order to help sell his big entrance. What’s the audience who broke into a train station to see a rock show going to do? Run from the murderer or rock out to his music?
I mean, normal people would do the former but we’re not dealing with fans. We’re dealing with devotees.
As for the final tally, Lucifer’s still in prison and Baphomet has burst onto the seen leaving only two spots left. It is interesting to note how Morrigan’s circle (which I’m certain is the crow-skull emblem) remains unchanged. Luci got her emblem changed after she was thrown in jail and decapitation might be a bit more drastic than that. Even though all the gods are meant to die, fate might have a designated expiration date for each of the Pantheon.Continued below
And with that, we’ve concluded our second column of Wicked Intervention. If there’s anything you feel I might’ve missed or you have any crazy theories, I encourage you to sound off in the comments section!