The Wicked + The Divine Book 4 (2020)
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson
“Sticking the landing” is a phrase that means achieving a conclusion that is satisfying in relation to the journey that led there. When you have one of these finite comic sagas like Y the Last Man or Sandman, where you’ve been with this singular creator’s vision, and the series ends with their final word. We often remember the great ones and the disappointing comics get quickly forgotten, and we move on. The Wicked + The Divine delivers a truly massive closure that wraps up every character and provides total closure. There’s no story to be told after the closing pages of this book.
Book 4 kicks off with an immediate jump back 6,000 years ago to events that precipitated the beginning of the Recurrence. In keeping with the rest of the series, we get just enough of a fragment to be frustrated but still hungry to keep going so we can learn more. The backstory of Ananke is fleshed out immensely in this first half, and it provides some more insight into the Darkness and why these gods always die after two years.
The story even goes back to the last Recurrence in 1923, which we glimpsed briefly way back in Book 1, and it reveals that a villain was in front of our eyes the whole time. The annoying part of this is an entire issue of little panel murders that are meant to show the cycle of death going on beneath the surface of this story. I got the point after a few pages, but it seemed more like an unnecessary cute gimmick.
The second half of Book 4 is where we get all those juicy conclusions. I absolutely loved the first issue with the point of view story of teenage fans coming to a blow out concert at the Pantheon. There’s so much riding on this event, and it proves to be a significant turning point for all the alliances that were built up over the five years of the series. After this tense event is concluded, I get into the part of the book I’m not so sure about. Gillen basically unfolds a plot that allows all of the “bad stuff” to mostly be undone. Only one god is given a finite death after it’s revealed he does something that would be impossible to get past, but it’s framed as a redemptive moment.
You get heartbreaking and heartwarming moments. There are moments given to each relationship in the story to provide it with a satisfying payoff. I think the decision of which god would be the ultimate villain was good. I just can’t say that I am a fan after reading the whole series. The artwork was the primary element that kept bringing me back and some moments where Gillen really hits on all cylinders. I just never felt like I got what the point of the story was, even as exposition-y as things get near the end. I personally didn’t feel invested in these characters and never really thought the stakes established got me any more interested. If you are a fan of Young Adult fantasy focused on intimate relationships with some conflict you’ll likely really enjoy was Gillen and McKelvie are offering here.