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 David Blake, aka Not Jon Blake aka A Total Shit
The Story So Far: For a long time, we were led to believe that Woden was really a guy named Jon Blake. This turns out not to be the case. It turns out that Woden is really David Blake, Jon’s dad and a bad bad bad bad person.
David has an advanced degree in Pantheon Studies, which is a thing you can be an expert in if you live in the WicDiv universe. He helped organize the Ragnarock festival, and lived his life as a Pantheon Recurrence superfan. He even met a young Laura Wilson in 2013 and went off on a rant about how Millennials are too shitty and entitled to deserve a recurrence and probably broke the thousand year old mystical cycle with their avocado toast or whatever. He sounded like he actually believed it.
Then he met Ananke. Under the pretext that she was a therapist, he allowed her to study his son Jon to assess whether or not he might be eligible for god powers. Together, Ananke and David came to a secret deal. Jon was turned into Mimir, but would be locked up and his powers would be used to fuel David, who would act as Woden. In return, Mimir would get his full two years and not be used as a sacrifice, and David would get to live out a gross life of depravity and abusing young women. All David had to do was slice his son’s head off (with a knife!) and give the head to Ananke. Oh, and be Ananke’s creepy agent within the pantheon. Woden assembled a posse of groupies he called the Valkyries, all of them Asian and at least five foot eight. Fuuuuuuuuck this guy.
Woden used Jon to create techno-magical artifacts which he would give as gifts to the other gods. He used most of these devices to spy on his fellow gods. He also built Valhalla, a big neon palace to serve as their base. As David, he attended Ragnarock, but he also made appearances as Woden to humiliate his former Valkyrie Brunhilde.
When the Pantheon started battling each other, Woden was firmly on Ananke’s side… until he wasn’t. He gave Dio a hint as to how to take down his mega-mecha-valkyrie and promptly vanished, not showing up again until Ananke was safely murdered. When the Great Darkness made itself known, Woden was one of the gods who wanted to figure out a way to destroy it, though how sincere he was in the effort is debatable. In their research efforts, Urdr went to David Blake for information (he is an expert after all) and put together enough clues to realize that Jon Blake was a god… but assumed that he was Woden, which David was happy to let her go on believing.
Then Woden pulled the trigger on (one of) his evil plan(s). He attempted to harness Dionysus’s power in order to control the minds of thousands. Dio fought back, but the Valkyries beat him until he was rendered brain-dead. Soon after, Persephone and Urdr found Mimir’s decapitated (but still living) head, and figured out Woden/David’s real identity. He locked them in a cage and fled, but not before threatening a great deal of rape and murder. Persephone and Urdr escaped captivity, but Woden is still out there armed with knowledge, powers, and a disturbing lack of morals.
The God: Woden is a less commonly used name for Odin, father of the Norse pantheon. You probably know at least a bit about Odin- he’s got one eye, he’s Thor’s dad, he wears a cool hat, he’s the god of wisdom, war, poetry, sorcery, and the gallows. He commands an army of Valkyries from Valhalla, where they bring the honored dead. Many Odin stories have him heedlessly pursuing deeper knowledge and wisdom, sometimes at the cost of the lives and body parts of those around him.Continued below
The Norse were the Scandinavians, the people of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Woden was the Germanic name, used by the tribes of what is now modern day Germany. The two groups were divided by language, but at the height of Odin/Woden worship they were culturally pretty similar. It’s notable that early Christians did a better job at converting the Germans than the Scandinavians. If you read translations of the Poetic Edda, you get a full-on dose of Viking glory. The later Prose Edda is a lot more steeped in Christian imagery. Originally, Ragnarok is just sort of it for the gods. The Prose Edda amends the story so that Balder rises Christlike from the destruction and begins the world anew. Did Gillen and McKelvie choose the Germanic version of the name to associate David Blake with the more Christian generation of Vikings? Nah. They just wanted to make Woden distinct from other questionable Odin characters in comic books.
Another notable figure to consider is Vidarr. He’s a son of Odin and the god of vengeance. During Ragnarok, Vidarr kills Fenris Wolf (which is like, hard to do) and he actually survives Ragnarok- the only one of the “main” gods to do so! There are apocryphal tales of Odin trying to switch bodies with Vidarr in order to survive Ragnarok, sort of mirroring David’s abuse of his son Jon. Folks have been pretty into the theme of Odin as a bad dad for a while.
The Icon: Visually, it’s abundantly clear that Woden is a straight-up Daft Punk robot. Just look at the “Harder Better Faster Stronger” video and… yeah, that’s what’s up. Plus there’s the whole thing where they did the soundtrack to the second Tron movie and every Woden touches looks like it’s taken right out of Tron. Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter (who together make up Daft Punk) are notoriously reclusive, but there is little reason to think that they are monumental shitheads. They seem like a couple of regular party dudes.
But Gillen has been on record a number of times describing Woden as a “producer-metaphor” god- and he’s a pretty unflattering image of a producer. He steals from younger and more talented gods, abusing them in the process. I guess if you were feeling kind, you could describe what he does as “remixing” but no, I think chopping off your own son’s head and enslaving them is a step beyond a simple remix. I think Daft Punk would agree. In personality, Woden is a lot more like Doctor Luke, the music producer of many hit songs who is much more famous for (allegedly) sexually abusing Ke$ha. I’ve got to say “allegedly” because he won his court case but… you can look up the court case if you feel like you want to know more about it, but suffice to say I’m confident that the comparison between Doctor Luke and Woden is apt.
It’s interesting to note that once she was finally liberated from Doctor Luke, Ke$ha made the best music of her career. It seems that suffering under abuse and cruetly is not good for art. It is antithetical. Woden has his degree and his expertise, but his toxicity is the cause of all the problems that spring up around him.
The Playlist: I like Daft Punk, so I feel bad about it, but it’s gotta be “Harder Better Faster Stronger.” Honestly, if you look at the song as a series of commands instead of a desire for self inprovement, it’s a hell of an anthem for abusers. Fuck Woden.
aka Jon Blake
The Story So Far: There’s not been much of it. Mimir has been a severed head operating off-page for most of the story. He did not want to become a god, and Ananke transformed him against his will. Then his dad decapitated him, locked him in a closet, and enslaved him, forcing him to build magical gadgets for the Pantheon. He was eventually discovered by Persephone and Urdr, and he seemed pretty inclined to be their friend. There’s no telling what’s in store for Mimir, but he’s got to have a reckoning with his dad.Continued below
The God: Mimir was a giant, so not quite a god by Norse standards but good enough for you and me. He’s the owner of Mimisbrunnr, a magical well that grants deep wisdom to whoever drinks from it. Odin cuts out his own eye to drink from the well. Later, Mimir is decapitated by a bunch of Vanir (very sexy, very magical elves). Odin revives Mimir’s head and carries it around so it can whisper secrets. Evidently, he never asked where his eye had gotten off to.
Heads getting smarter when they are removed from bodies is a common theme in mythology. You’ve got Orpheus of course, the Mayans had a story about one, Blessed Bran of Celtic mythology becomes one, there are some freaky ones in Japanese folklore, there’s the Hindu tale of Brahma (though his missing head was one of his less smart heads; he had a lot of heads). And there’s Mimir. WicDiv also has a thing for heads. Mimir joins the likes of Lucifer, Inanna, and Tara. And Ananke seems real keen on adding a fourth head to the party…
The Icon: Mimir has also got a Daft Punk/Tron thing going on what with all the glowing lines. Thematically though, he joins Minerva in representing the danger that goes into how we treat child stars. David Blake dreamt of touching divine power, and he had to mutilate his son to live that vicarious dream. Think about all the other young stars pop culture loves to chew up and spit out, then criticize for having the audacity of being messed up on the other side. Ke$ha comes to mind of course, and Britney Spears. I’d say Michael Jackson qualifies.
Youth is a major theme for Gillen and McKelvie. Gillen gave us a child version of Marvel’s Loki in “Journey Into Mystery” and McKelvie joined him on “Young Avengers” which explored why a group of kids would want to emancipate themselves from a venerable and renowned team of heroes. If I can (ahem) quote poet and jazz critic Philip Larkin, “They fuck you up, your mum and dad.” I think WicDiv would agree.
The Playlist: We don’t know much about Mimir’s style, but he strikes me as a fan of the Cure. Wisdom beyond his years, guilt and exhaustion about his dad? “In Between Days” by the Cure feels pretty appropriate. Hey what album was that on? The Head On The Door you say? Nailed it.
Known: Brunhilde, Eir, Göndul
plus I’d assume Geirdriful, Skögul , Hildr, Mist, and maybe Sigrún?
The Story So Far: As part of his quest to be the worst shithead of all time, Woden had his son empower a series of Asian women (with a height requirement of five foot eight) to be his superpowered groupies. The Valkyries were not of the Pantheon, but put on magic performances all the same; Laura Wilson even went to them. Sometime before the story proper, Brunhilde was thrown out for (correctly) accusing Woden of sexual assault. Brunhilde confronted Woden at Ragnarock, but was publicly humiliated. She attempted to straight-up murder him (I don’t condone murder but…) until Minerva intervened.
The Valkyries acted as Woden’s de facto enforcers (and thusly, Ananke’s enforcers) when Persephone stormed Valhalla. They formed a humongous mecha that was probably someone (read: Woden’s) fetish, but were defeated by Dionysus. After Ananke’s death, they continued to serve Woden, spying on Sakhmet and eventually assaulting Dionysus. It’s unknown which of them, were complicit in which of Woden’s crimes.
The Gods: The Valkyries of myth are super cool, and thus pretty famous. They are a a team of women warriors who fly around and bring the worthy to Valhalla. In Valhalla those warriors (the Einherjar) eat a big breakfast in the morning, then go outside and have a big and bloody battle. In the afternoon, they pick up everybody’s guts and limbs and shove everything into their proper places. Then they go back inside and eat a big dinner and talk about how great all the fighting was. The Valkyries of myth serve food and mead and do all the dishes and clean all the armor. It is never explicitly said in either the Poetic or Prose Edda whether or not the Valkyries are expected to perform sexual favors for the Einherjar. Apocryphally, it was believed they did because who wouldn’t want to bone down with a sweaty, recently dismembered viking warrior?Continued below
I gotta figure that Woden names his Valkyries by aiming for maximum cruelty. We know that Brunhilde was the coolest and most popular Valkyrie. For that she was humiliated. There’s also Eir, whose name means among other things “help.” The last confirmed Valkyrie is Göndul, which means “wand-wielder.” You can imagine what Woden thinks about that. Ew. In addition to Eir and Göndul, there are three other current Valkyries. Until corrected by the comic, I’m gonna assume they are Geirdriful (“spear-flinger”), Skögul (“high-towering,” she’s the tallest one) , Hildr (“battle”), Mist (self explanatory, easy to remember), and Sigrún (“victory”).
The Icon: As with Mimir, the Valkyries are a further exploration of abuse in fandom, but in this case its more about a toxic relationship between creators and fans. There are plenty of other works of media that explore the awful way groupies are treated (Almost Famous is a personal favorite of mine) but what Woden has going with the Valkyries seems even more deeply evil. They depend on him, almost like he’s a drug pusher. I can’t wait to see what happens now that he’s been cut off from his supplier Mimir.
The Playlist: “When I Grow Up” by the Pussycat Dolls. A cry for help or a warning?