The Wicked + The Divine Book 2 (2015)
Reprints The Wicked + The Divine #12-22
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Jamie McKelvie, Mat Lopes, Stephanie Harris, Kate Brown, Brandon Graham, Matt Wilson, Leila Del Duca, and Tula Lotay
My big question reading through The Wicked + The Divine is “why?” Why are these gods returning? I assume that will be answered before the series is over, but not having some progress towards this makes it a little frustrating. One thing that does move the reader toward a better understanding of individual characters by giving spotlights and backstories to them. We get to see Tara; finally, a god spoken about but absent in the first collection, and her origins are quite interesting, primarily how she interfaces with her audience and deals with being a goddess.
The first half of Book 2 is centered on spending time with members of the Pantheon. It feels like Gillen trying to slow down and do some character development without doing story progression. The artwork is absent McKelvie’s touch, which leads to some hit and miss work, depending on which issue you are reading. I see the attempt to match the art to the character’s personality but is often hit or miss. Of these characters, I found Odin’s issue to be interesting, he’s one of the more enigmatic figures in a cast of pretty mysterious people.
Cassandra becomes more like a protagonist in this first half, and she’s honestly one of the more interesting people the series has to present. When you put her up against Amaterasu, it makes the latter character look that much less important. With a cast this large, you start to have people pop up like that, seemingly peripheral and just filling out the background rather than serving a definite purpose in the narrative. We get more knowledge on The Morrigan and Baphomet. Baphomet’s whole path to godhood is wonderfully tragic, and I can see it’s going to much worse by the end of this story, which makes that arc all the more interesting.
The second half of this story starts with a considerable twist introducing a new god, Persephone, and the ramifications of her existence are definitely going to be the engine that keeps this otherwise meandering story going. To talk any more about who she is would be a spoiler, but it’s a pretty fantastic reveal. This part of the story also starts making it clear how factions are forming within the Pantheon. Ananke and Odin are part of one splinter with Sakhmet joining when she feels like it.
This section began to shift away from feeling like interpersonal stories about reincarnated gods and more superhumans fighting each other. The characters are supposed to be centered around popular music, and I can tell which genres some of them belong to. The problem is that the music aspect gets lost, and it’s never explored compellingly. Baal is obviously supposed to be the gold-chained out rapper, Odin is an analog for Daft Punk, Tara is akin to a Taylor Swift maybe.
But the interplay of these concepts is wholly left on the cutting room floor. I would say the feel of the plot in The Wicked + The Divine is like a student learning to drive a car and not understanding the gas and brake pedals. You have a moment where you feel like a comfortable speed has been found, and then you either skip right past something important or everything screeches to a halt.
The conclusion of this act in the story gives us another cliffhanger and another death. This murder opens up the story in yet another direction. I can see ways it can go, but I’m not sure which are more interesting than others. There’s still a lot of exposition to come, I bet so we’ll possibly get answers in the next book? Maybe? Hopefully.