“The Wicked + The Divine” #5 finishes the first arc of the series (soon to be known by followers as “The Faust Act”) with merciless flair. At the end of this issue, readers are left with a mixed feeling of awe and nausea. The pacing is quicker than ever, and the action sucker-punches the reader when they least expect it. Issue #5 proves that the series has stopped trying to placate its rules and mythos to us, and has taken a spin into the realm of being unforgivable, and divine.
It is about time we saw this kind of risk in the story where the players are creating changes that cannot be taken back, and disorder begins to infect the holy famous.
Written by Kieron Gillen
Illustrated by Jamie McKelvie
Laura thought that Luci was stuck in jail, but it turns out that Luci could have gotten out of jail all along, and was just trying to play nice for the Pantheon. Now we see what happens when Luci decides to stop following the “rules” of the gods, and live by her own rules.
Considering how the series began, tantalizing and secretive, readers have been left patiently in the dark long enough. Readers have slowly collected more and more details of this world, building it and cosplaying it like fans do, but it is still developing. Considering the topic of the series (the pain of stardom) its wildfire fandom seems to be a strange affect that is perhaps meta-writing at its (unplanned) finest. Some fans are latching on to the persona of the gods that we really have yet to see developed on the main-stage. Fans have favorites though we’ve yet to truly see what the gods (other than Luci, the Morrigan, a little Baal) can do when given our full attention, which raises the hardest question(s): what do we love about these fantastical gods? What do we want from them? What are we waiting to see from the gods?
Issue #5, however, reminds us that we’ve only seen this world in the sheltered eyes of fandom.
Jumping onto the series through the fangirl eyes of Laura, we readers were quickly swooned, like her, into the glitz and glam of the neon shows and exploding terrorists and courtroom murder. We were sent on the trail of Luci, and forgot about mysterious Recurrence. We fell for Luci. We rooted for Luci with Laura, and Laura’s view and desperation to understand the world mirrored our own. With Laura’s awe we were allowed to stop questioning why this is happening or how. We didn’t get bogged down in years of origin story. We searched to free the Devil. The more Laura learned as a spectator, the more we learned.
Yet, as readers will soon learn, we are no longer able to walk the line of the fan anymore.
Starting off the issue with a simultaneous jab at Tara and Lady Gaga, Gillen’s wit colors the pages that are otherwise filled with despair. Following Luci after she escapes out of jail turns out to be an adventure of the damned. Perhaps the best moment of this miraculous denial of faith is when Amatersau finds Luci and asks her to “Come home,” with the amber warmth of her eyes. Luci’s immediate response is to swat at the tendrils of Ammy and tell her, “I’d rather die then go back.” As Ammy is shocked by this and says that Luci sounds just like them, we see one of them, Laura, run into the subway in front of a train in hopes to get the attention of the Morrigan. We hear Cassandra ask Laura if she’s “fucking insane,” and with a worrisome bite of her lip and an “Oh fuck,” Laura jumps on the tracks. As Wilson colors a golden orb of light surrounding Laura from the incoming train and we see McKelvie’s depiction of Laura clenching her eyes shut, we are left laughing nervously along too.
McKelvie and Wilson’s depiction of the gods soars to the heights we always imagined they could fly. As Baal leaps from the sky in purple-hued lightning haze and Sakhmet tears through the wind with her claws in a ferocious golden storm we finally see the potential terror ensued when supreme beings disagree. As the gods battle it out in the streets, McKelvie’s keen eye creates glorious destruction as Wilson lights the world on fire, severed heads and all.Continued below
My only complaint with this issue is that the marks that we see on Luci’s face look unreal. The blood looks smeared on like stage makeup. It is almost funny how she looks; except, its impossible to believe look seems intentional. I found it so comical that when an actual attack does occur later, I found myself shocked. The last few panels push away the reader, zooming out to the view of trees, a view as distant to earth as the gods feel towards us.
It is about to get real. Bloody. Permanent. It is clear the series is shifting gears and that soon we will not only have answers but be forced, like Laura, to make some impossible choices based on the information we are now privileged to hear.
Final Verdict: 8.5 – the type of action that the entire series has been hinged upon; a breathless run towards annihilation.