Once again, we return… to Wicked Intervention, your best source for deep dives into “The Wicked + the Divine.” As we near the final arc of the series, we’re going to take a look at all the major characters, what they’ve been up to, and some of the ideas that went into making them (so FULL SPOILERS ahead!!). We’re also going to celebrate some amazing work from one of the best cosplay communities of all time. Then we are going to scrutinize the final few issues in exhaustive obsessive detail as the series comes to a close. It was never going to be OK.
aka Ruth Clarkson
The Story So Far: Ruth ran away from her abusive dad and was found by Ananke at a bus stop. She was already a heavy drinker at this point, and when Ananke asked her what she wanted, she said she wanted to be a cat because cats “don’t give a fuck” (truth). It seems very fitting that she was given the powers of Sakhmet, the drunken Egyptian goddess of war, sex, death, and cats. Big cats. Think lions.
And so, Sakhmet was all to happy to just lean into her purview. She became violent when sober, so the rest of the Pantheon made sure to keep her very drunk at all times. She had constant sex, including with most of the rest of the Pantheon, occasionally played shows, and chased red dots. Like a cat. Oh, and she also totally murdered and ate her abusive dad.
When Persephone stormed Valhalla to kill Ananke, Sakhmet was on team Ananke. Not because she’s a particularly loyal person, she just thought it would be fun to murder and eat Persephone. She was knocked unconscious in the battle, but at no point did Sakhmet seem particularly miffed when she woke to discover Ananke had been murdered. Like, whatever. She just went back to drinking and fucking, and getting romantically involved with Persephone in the process. Sakhmet also tried to get down with Amaterasu, only to find that Ammy was to straight to reciprocate. It was here that Ammy also blabbed that Persephone killed Ananke not in self defense, but in a calculated act. Sakhmet did not like being lied to, and went on an upsettingly extensive killing spree. This would be a good place to note that though she is extremely convincing, Sakhmet is as performative as any member of the Pantheon. She tries not to care, but you don’t go on a spree of mass vengeance murder unless you are very emotional.
The rest of the gods decided that Sakhmet needed to be handled, but Perseophone tipped her off the rest of the Pantheon with enough information to catch up with her. Ammy was the one to find her at the British Museum (in the Egypt exhibit obviously). Sakhmet ripped Ammy’s throat out, killing her. The Pantheon caught up with Sakhmet at Persephone’s apartment, and moments before it looked like she was finally going to kill Persephone, Minerva blew her head off with a gun.
…Only it seems like it wasn’t Minerva at all, it was Ananke in Minerva’s body, with a greater mysterious plan. A plan that involved collecting magically removed heads. And she just blew Sakhmet’s to smithereens. Thus Sakhmet was murdered, but actually.
The God: In ancient Egypt, they loved cats. Though they were very much polytheistic, Egypt was a bit more into the Cult system then a lot of other pagan religions. This meant that even though you believed in many gods, even if you worshiped different gods at different times, you picked a favorite and identified heavily with it. This sometimes led to splits, and sometimes some bleedthrough with gods who have overlapping purviews, especially in the case of Sekhmet and Bastet.
The obvious divide is that Sekhmet is a scary lioness and Bastet is a sexy housecat lady, but they could take on each others roles if necessary. It is possible that the two names were just different interpretations of the same goddess, as interpreted in Upper Egypt (Sekhmet) and Lower Egypt (Bastet).Continued below
In WicDiv, there is some concern that Sakhmet has fire powers, and this is true. Mythological Sekhmet was the daughter of Ra after all, and that dude was the sun. (Bastet was thought to be his daughter too, but she was more about putting out fires than starting them). Interestingly, Sekhmet is more frequently depicted as having a husband- Bastet is single and ready to mingle. And who is that husband? None other than Ptah, the rather laid back creator god and lord of crafts. Not only can I not see comic book Sakhmet ever settling down, I definitely can’t see her marrying a nerd.
The Icon: Sakhmet is very much based on Rihanna, at least in appearance. They are both sex symbols, but Rihanna’s image has always been controlled and just a bit manufactured. Sakhmet is totally out of control. What’s cool about it is how deliberately she chooses to lose control- when there’s not a little red dot involved. That total lack of fucks given is precisely where Sakhmet’s power comes from.
Rihanna’s power is in her ability to transform. She can change her look, her sound, her vibe, her image, seemingly at will. Sakhmet seems like a (potentially) smart and talented lady, but she doesn’t have the patience for those deliberate tactical moves. She’s all id, where Rihanna is all Ego. Then again, Rihanna is covered with Egyptian tattoos (ILLUMINATI!?!?).
No, Sakhmet may look like Rihanna, but she’s just basically a cat. I know this because Kieron Gillen said so. “A lot of Sakhmet comes from just watching my cat, Lemon. The word here would be “languid”” Sakhmet is a cat and cats as we know, don’t give a fuck. DGAF personified.
The Playlist: There are two Rihanna songs on the playlist: “Work” and “Don’t Stop the Music.” I bet that would really capture what a Sakhmet concert would be like. But I think the languid, carefree, melancholy sound of Lana del Rey captures a truer side of Sakhmet. I’m gonna go with “Money, Power, Glory.”
aka Dio, aka Umar, aka The Dancefloor That Walks Like a Man
The Story So Far: Umar is a really nice guy. Before attaining godhood, he was a big fan of The Morrigan, and even gave pre-divine Baphomet a ride to one of her concerts. At the beginning of the story, he still had not received his powers and was even at the Morrigan vs Baph show with Laura Wilson. By the events of ‘Fandemonium,’ he made his big debut as ecstasy personified (the drug, also maybe the emotion).
Dio is a lover not a fighter. He wants to be a good friend, and gets uncomfortable when things turn to violence. He protested the Morrigan’s imprisonment, and doubted that Baphomet was behind Ananke’s murders. Though he was a reluctant participant, he joined the Pantheon battle on team Persephone and was powerful enough to topple Woden’s giant mecha. Once Persephone went all murder-y on Ananke, Dio wavered for a moment, becoming deeply uncomfortable.
When the threat of the mysterious Great Darkness started to assert itself, Dio aligned himself with Urdr and Woden in order to learn more about it, and eventually defeat it. This brought him and Urdr closer together, and Dio fell in love with her. This was not really destined to work out, as they could not be less sexually compatible. Urdr was more interested in queer polyamorous BDSM (if I were to try to put a label on it) and Dio was asexual. Still, the affection was there.
Woden, being the little shit that is, used all of this to his own gross ends. He attempted to hijack Dionysus’s powers to take control of the minds of tens of thousands of party-goers, including Urdr. Dio was not gonna have any of that. He mustered up his powers, summoned some kick-ass glow-stick nunchucks, and rushed at Woden, ready to take him down. He was stopped by Woden’s Valkyries, who beat him into a state of catatonia. And that’s where Dio remains, functionally brain-dead.Continued below
The God: A lot of people probably already know a bit about Dionysus, god of wine, drunkenness, sex, and good times. There are a lot of good stories. Zeus and Semele hooked up, but then Hera hoodwinked into them into showing off Zeus’ true form, which burned Semele to a crisp. Zeus somehow recovered the baby and carried him in his thigh and birthed him that way (it’s best not to think about it). Young Dionysus bounced around every which way, getting into wacky mishaps, transforming some sailors into dolphins, then befriending those dolphins, stuff like that. That carefree good times attitude fits Dio in mythology and the comic.
In pop culture, we like to cast Dionysus in a darker light. He’s associated with madness, and modern folks are pretty down on drugs and alcohol. Just think about the Maenad in the second season of True Blood. It’s sort of refreshing then that Dio in the comic is all about responsible drug use. It takes his toll, especially on him, but you never get the feeling that either Dionysus want the party to keep going past the point where people are comfortable.
Comic book Dio’s asexuality is also an interesting subversion of the OG god, but very much in line with the themes of the series. The implication isn’t that Dionysus is in any way asexual, but Umar is. Just because he now has the power to “make orgasms which could drive you to the brink of madness” doesn’t mean he’s into that. Underneath the disturbing superpowers, he’s just a normal, albeit supernaturally nice, mortal dude.
The Icon: More than representing a particular artist, Dio is a sort of stand-in for a whole concept. He’s got the aesthetics of Acid House, and it’s easy to picture him rocking out at the club energetically to some electronica. He is also an expression Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s love of dance parties, which is not only a theme in their work together (see: “Phonogram”) but also something they host regularly in real life. You can see their inclusive, uninhibited philosophy on the page and on the dance floor, and it’s clear that Gillen believes in the transformative life-saving powers of a good DJ. That’s half the reason he’s so committed to the playlist.
Dio is also influenced in name, appearance, and dancefloor demeanor, by one Umar Ditta, creator of the comic book “Untethered” and seriously buff dude. “I’ve been thinking of Dionysus as a “Umar” for a while,” Gillen wrote in the Christmas 2017 entry of his writers notes. “When thinking up Dio, the image of writer Umar Ditta leading the Thought Bubble dancefloor was definitely in my mind, and I thought it’d be fun if they share a name, despite being very different dudes. (Not least that Umar could bench Dionysus now.) I asked Umar, and he said yes, so Umar he is. His first comic “Untethered” has just come out, and is well worth your attention.”
Oh and “The Dancefloor That Walks Like a Man” is a reference to classic “X-Men” villain Krakoa, “The Island That Walks Like a Man,” and I crack up every time I see it.
The Playlist: The song Dio is most likely to play is whatever is most likely to get the most people happy and dancing. To represent the playful DJ side of him I might pick “Beat That My Heart Skipped” a mashup of Dan Le Sac and Scroobius Pip. For that classic late-night-on-drugs sound you gotta go with “Clint Eastwood” by the Gorillaz. But if you’ve been to a Gillen/McKelvie dance party you know there’s only one choice: “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Taylor.