The Wicked + The Divine Vol. 9: Okay by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson & Clayton Cowles

Semi-tangent before I get into my review: my 9 year-old and I have taken to saying “okay” to each other in the voice of Princess Daisy from Super Mario Party. It’s a weird in-joke. My kid is the best.

Anyhoo, I had to sit and think about this volume for a while before I could come up with a review for it. Basically, we find out the whole deal with Ananke and Minerva, as several members of the Pantheon make terrible choices and the rest have to either stop them or clean up after them (or, in the case of Baphomet, make the best choices, ilubb!) The Pantheon discover that the only way to beat Ananke is to examine their godhood, leading us back full circle to the first volume’s musings on fame and power.

I wanted to like this. I loved the final issue, knowing that some of our Pantheon get out alive. I love that the book is saying hard work and craft are better than the chaotic energy of getting everything too fast too soon, of dying young and leaving a good-looking corpse. But I think that it sorta cheapens, if that makes sense, the very idea of legend and story, of timelessness and enchantment, by turning this into a cautionary tale of pop idols blessed with fame they didn’t work for. Yes, fame is a fickle thing, anointing at random, but I also found the odd subtext implying that young superstars don’t actually work hard to be off-putting, sneeringly condescending, and downright bizarre from a creative team that has shown great love for the music scene. Entertaining looks easy because it’s supposed to look effortless but, to take just one example, Our Lady Britney Spears busted her ass every single day of her adolescence to sing and dance for us. Oh sure, Britney didn’t burn out within the two years allotted to the members of the Pantheon but I don’t think anyone can look back on the toll her career took on her and think she got out unscathed, or that she didn’t work for every minute of it. Or, to take perhaps a more on the nose example, would anyone argue that Janis Joplin didn’t fucking work? Read this article or Google “Janis Joplin work ethic” if you’re even thinking of trying. I get what Kieron Gillen et. al. were aiming for here but IMO they missed that mark by implying it’s a choice between superstardom and hard graft instead of considering the possibility of both together.

Art was terrific, as usual, and I honestly don’t understand the hate that some readers have directed at guest artists filling in on previous issues. Yes, Jamie McKelvie et. al. are amazing artists but just because something is different doesn’t mean it’s bad. Anyway, controversial, for me, end to a very interesting series. Overall this volume was, to quote its title in whichever voice you prefer, okay. Given the rest of the series, that can’t help but feel a bit like a disappointment.

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