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 Marian, aka Badb, aka Gentle Annie, aka Morri
The Story So Far: Marian and her boyfriend Cameron were the pinnacle of cool-goth-nerdom. By day they painted Warhammer figurines, smoked cigarettes and scoffed at funerals. At night they would linger after their Vampire: The Masquerade themed LARPs and have sex on a cave floor. When Ananke came on by to deliver her god powers, she was still dealing with her feelings about Cameron cheating on her. Her solution was as elegant and goth as it was monstrous. She asked Ananke to give Cameron god powers to, allowing them to be together once again, but dooming him to die in two years. He cheated on her, so she murdered him, so they could be together briefly. None more goth yo.
Morrigan spends a lot of time in the early parts of “The Wicked + the Divine” in the Underground: literally the London subway system but twisted into a glamorous palace of gothy gothicness. She and Cameron (now called Baphomet) befriend Laura and act as her “good bad company,” partying in graveyards and generally doing their goth thing.
When Ananke starts her killing spree in earnest, she pins the crimes on Baphomet, and Morrigan helps her boyfriend escape. For this she is locked in a cage until the gods start fighting among themselves in the events of ‘Rising Action.’ Baal and Sakhmet are no friends of hers, and she ends up being one of the power players on Team Persephone, totally cavalier about her murder of Ananke (who had framed her boyfriend after all).
Of course, it was not to last. When Baphomet reveals that he cheated on her (again) with Persephone, Morrigan becomes increasingly toxic and controlling and objectively abusive. The two of them settle into a very uncomfortable routine, culminating in an all-out fight in which Morri morphs into a bird monster and sincerely tries to murder Persephone. Baph gets involved and Morri kills him dead. Not able to live with herself, she restores Baphomet to life, giving him whatever time she had left and dying in his place.
The God: The Morrigan is one of the many three-part gods found in paganism. Unlike most incarnations of the triple goddess, she’s not a maiden, a mother, and a crone (at least not most of the time). In fact, her purview is war and fate. She’s a battle goddess, and a really cruel, mean, scary one at that. She makes Ares look like Hermes if you know what I mean.
There are a ton of stories about The Morrigan, because there are a ton of goddesses who have been included as the three sisters over the years usually including Badb, Macha, and Nemain, (and sometimes including Eriu, Banba, and Folda depending on who you ask) and plenty of others. The consistency is that the Morrigan is associated with crows, blood, death, and darkness. That imagery is central to all of Morri’s goth aesthetic and then it sort of folds back on itself. Is Eric Draven intentionally trying to evoke the Morrigan in The Crow? Is Morri trying to evoke Draven in her goth style? Would she claw my eyes out for even asking that? Goth culture gets really sensitive yo.
The Icon: Can you think of a goth lady in music? She probably informed the Morrigan. Gillen and McKelvie have mentioned Patti Smith, Siouxsie Sioux, and Kate Bush as references but no one captures Morri better than PJ Harvey. Sure, Siouxsie literally fronted a group called the Banshees (a very Morrigan thing to do), but Harvey is the queen of goth allure. Not only does her whole image evoke Morrigan’s shadows + ravens thing, not only are Harvey’s songs all about darkness, and abuse, and witchcraft, and toxicity, and drowning babies in the river, but Harvey has also been a muse for male goth icon Nick Cave. She’s said to be an inspiration for a number of his goth love ballads, including “Black Hair,” which seems like the pinnacle of doomed goth love.Continued below
The parody of the tortured goth artist is prevalent in a lot of pop culture, but that’s not really Morri. Looking at her inspirations, its clear that there’s something freeing about letting go and embracing the inevitability of death. PJ Harvey and Siouxsie Sioux both sing about what sad disasters their lives are, but in a way that makes them sound relieved. Better to be a disaster than to be boring.
The Playlist: “This Mess We’re In” by PJ Harvey more than anything else, but you’ve gotta give mention to “Welcome to the Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance. There’s three of her, so Gentle Annie needs a song too, how about “Little Animal” by the Ravonettes.
aka Cameron, aka Baph, aka Nergal, aka Nurgle, aka The Pungeon Master
The Story So Far: Cameron was a typical nerdy goth teen, happy to take on a provocative and performative identity. He loved Warhammer, RPGs, and heavy metal. When his parents died, he took it badly, pulling away from his girlfriend Marian and eventually cheating on her. When she received her god powers, she asked Ananke to give him powers to. This allowed them to stay together, but also doomed Baphomet to die in two years.
The thing was though, he wasn’t made into the god Baphomet. Ananke made him Nergal and for complicated Warhammer-related reasons (more on this in a bit), Cameron did not take this well. He decided to operate under the very goth-appropriate Baphomet. As a god, Baph suddenly rocked an eight-pack at all times, wore leather jackets with nothing else, and had flaming eyes. He could look and be exactly as he wanted to. But he was doomed to die, and he was scared of that.
So Baph tried to steal life away from Inanna. Whether or not that was really a possibility we’ll never know, because he eventually realized that he was being manipulated by Ananke. He was too late to save Laura Wilson’s family and was unable to save Inanna, so with Morrigan’s help he went on the run and she got locked up.
When the gods all started fighting, he was happy to join up with Persephone and spring his girlfriend from god-jail. He got to manifest a flaming longsword +3 and fight a giant robot made of women. All things Baphomet imagined he would do as a god. He tried to comfort his friend Persephone, but this just ended with them sleeping together. When Morrigan found out, it was a bad scene. It started with her controlling him and growing more and more abusive, until finally Morrigan took the form of a bird monster and lashed out in full. This proved deadly for Baph, but at the last moment Morrigan switched with him and died in his place.
The God: This is a complicated one. Baphomet is really Nergal. Nergal is the Mesopotamian god of death, specifically the murder kind of death. The most famous story about Nergal has him lusting after the throne of underworld goddess Ereshkigal, but being too cowardly to get it himself, so he asks his dad for help. Dad gives him fourteen demons to help him storm the throne room, and he makes it all the way to Ereshkigal, puts a knife to her throat, and demands dominion over the dead. Ereshkigal surrendered immediately, but in the few seconds he had been in the throne room with her, Nergal realized that he was in love. They decided to share the underworld. And really, have you ever heard a story more comic book Baphomet?
But no, none of that has anything to do with Baph’s beef with his identity. WicDiv writer Kieron Gillen is an unrepentant Warhammer nerd, and thus so is Baph. In the lore of Warhammer, Nurgle (different spelling, but a homophone) is the rotten god of chaos, plagues, and gross things. As his chant goes: “Buboes, phlegm, blood and guts! Boils, bogeys, rot and pus! Blisters, fevers, weeping sores! From your wounds the fester pours.” Nurgle has a reputation for utter stupidity in the world of Warhammer. Plus, Warhammer is all about faction loyalty and Cameron doesn’t roll with the maggotkin (though it looks like Marian used to play Chaos). (We also know that Cameron plays a Toreador in Vampire: The Masquerade when clearly if he had any self respect he’d be Tremere).Continued below
So why Baphomet? ‘Cause Baphomet looks cool. You know that Satan-looking goat monster with the boobs and the horns and the star on its head? It shows up on Tarot cards, and heavy metal t-shirts, and old D&D, and the writings of Aleister Crowley? That goat-thing is named Baphomet. That’s it. What a dork.
The Icon: The most obvious inspiration for Baphomet is Nick Cave, though Andrew Eldritch of Sisters of Mercy has also been cited as a reference. Both are dicks-out masculine goths who take their performative identities very seriously. But in truth, Baphomet is only a little bit like those guys. He’s quickly revealed to be a scared loser teen given enough power to look sexy and shoot fireballs, but not enough to get over his own anxieties. He was playing fantasy games before his life became one, so he just sort of leaned in and cracked jokes. In Kieron Gillen’s own words: “Baphomet, he is a fucking idiot, bless him.”
The Playlist: If you went to a Baphomet concert, it would sound a lot like “Cowboys From Hell” by Pantera. If you asked him his favorite song he would say “People Ain’t No Good” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds or (if he was feeling particularly romantic and/or beaten down) “Marian” by Sisters of Mercy. His actual favorite song is “And the Rest Will Follow” by …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, which is not on the official playlist (but “Mistakes and Regrets” is; he likes that too.) Cameron pretends to like Taylor Swift ironically, but none of us are fooled.