Jun 29 2020

The Wicked + The Divine Vol. 5-8 by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson & Clayton Cowles

Post the stunning story arc of Vols 1-4, our Pantheon has now entered their Imperial Phase, at the height of their powers and looking down at a slow decline towards death. With Ananke out of the picture, the surviving gods are free to do as they please… or is there more afoot than our troubled divinities have realized? After all, Ananke has had millenia in which to perfect her plans. Can one spunky god really have turned the tables on her so easily?

Vol 5 begins with the form of a glossy magazine, where Kieron Gillen roped in a bunch of real live journos to simulate interviews with his fictional gods. The Morrigan, Baal, Woden, Lucifer and Amaterasu all get the treatment, shedding more light into their backgrounds and motivations than before. It’s also a chance to showcase some really terrific fashion art featuring our crew before plunging back into the story proper. Perspehone is busy drowning her sorrows with ill-advised hookups, while the Norns are researching the machine Ananke had had Woden build for her. The Great Darkness emerges as something, er, greater than the metaphor Ananke had spoken of to most of the team. The Pantheon is riven as to what to do next, and two of its members lose control.

In Vol 6, the Pantheon hunts down its rogue members. Woden, Cassandra and Dionysus hatch a plan to finally crack the mystery of Ananke’s machine but betrayal throws a wrench in the works. Cassandra and Persephone figure out Woden’s secret even as more of the Pantheon die, and we discover that another of them is hiding the biggest secret of all.

More secrets are exposed in Vol 7, as the history of the first sisters who fought for dominance are slowly unraveled. Minerva is playing a dangerous game while Baal’s secret is finally exposed. The Morrigan and Baphomet split up for good. Persephone makes a life-altering decision that could fundamentally change the very idea of a Pantheon.

Vol 8 is a break from the main narrative, full of all the past bits and the fun bits that there hadn’t been room for till now. As the series draws to a close with Vol 9, the creative team and their invited guests wanted to finish fleshing out their centuries-spanning world before the dramatic climax. And boy howdy do they succeed. One thing I really dig about Mr Gillen’s collected trades is the absolute wealth of extra material in them. This volume is an entire book of extra material. That would seem fairly wanky but succeeds somehow, mostly because the world is so rich that every single story or short told here helps the overarching arc make more sense. My personal favorite was the one which showed how Baphomet and Dionysus first met. I heart Dio, and I’m still mad about what happened to him.

I kinda don’t want to start reading Vol 9 because I know that’s the very last one, but I’m also burning to find out what happens next/in the end. I definitely have theories as to how the sisters are manifesting through time, but I also readily admit that I am bad with visual clues, and have probably missed a lot of those that indicate the truth. It’s 5 in the morning as I type this and I’m super hungry, but should I stay up to read the last volume or go have some dinner (yes, I keep odd hours) and go to bed? Rather, will I stay up to finish the series despite knowing I should be calling it a night? I think we all know the answer to that question.

Plus also, I rather want a The Wicked + The Divine Christmas sweater now.

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