This one-off issue is another break from the regular storyline that takes us from the 21st century back to 455AD when the Vandal army destroyed Rome, except all isn’t as we think and we see Julius Caesar go off to fight the Vandal army by himself.
Julius is in fact Lucifer and is essentially the last God standing.
Annake chides Lucifer for what he’s done, but he’s having none of it.
He also seems to have totally sussed Annake out for the manipulative God-killer she is.
However after declaring himself emperor and wishing Rome to be a better place, things don’t turn out as planned.
As Lucifer turns out to be quite, quite mad.
Things end up turning out as we know them too but this is a story to show just how far Annake will go to end the brief lives of the Gods and what happens when a God tries to live longer than their allotted lifespan. It’s a bleak, gory and depressing vision and one that is expertly written by Gillen and splendidly drawn by Andre Araujo. This is a nice compliment to the ongoing series but without the main series the story is weaker so don’t treat this as something you can dive into on it’s own.
Image Comics Paper Girls is I think, my favourite comic being published by the major companies today. Brian K.Vaughan and Cliff Chiang have forged a wonderful science fiction comic that on first glimpse seems it touches the same ground as Stranger Things, but it really doesn’t. This is a comic that concentrates on characterisation as much as the big SF ideas that litter the series but this issue is being pushed as a jumping on point for new readers.
To be blunt; that’s bollocks as if you pick this issue up and its your first issue you’ll be utterly lost working out the time travel and alternate realities the girls have been adventuring through since the series started. That said, if you’ve been a regular reader like myself you’ll be lost as KJ is at the start of this issue.
Of course this being Paper Girls all is not as it seems and we pick up the girls struggling with their travels through time.
Though Mac discovers they may also have travelled through space as well.
What I love about this comic is there’s no way to predict what is going to happen next, and instead of focusing on the twists and turns of the plot, Vaughan makes sure the four girls and how they deal with these situations are the focus. If you are picking this issue up having not read any previously I’d recommend getting the two trade paperbacks collecting the issue so far so you can enjoy this quite glorious comic.
2017 sees The Wicked and the Divine carry on its exploration of the post-Annake world and the place of the pantheon in it as Woden desperately tries to save his live against an angry Laura in full Destroyer mode.
Laura backs off from murdering Woden, but instead drags him into the Underworld to question him as she thinks he’s bluffing.
There’s clearly a darkening in Laura’s actions and attitudes (having your family murdered in front of you would do that) but she’s increasingly an unknowable risk to even people she considers friends.
Thanks to Woden’s now reformed character they focus on the ‘Great Darkness’ prophesied by Annake, what it is and why Baal especially takes it so seriously. Baal however is making use of his great powers.
We also get a glimpse of why Baal takes The Great Darkness seriously and just what the Pantheon have to face up to in future issues as Gillen and McKelvie step up another gear with this huge threat that’s been in the background all the time. Each issue in this arc is ramping things up slowly to, I assume, something huge and indeed, dark…
After last issues unconventional structure, Gillen and McKelvie go back to a more traditional comic strip format as we finally hit New Year’s Eve in 2014 in the continuity of the comic.
The situation is effectively summed up in one panel as to where the Pantheon now stand among humanity.
And there ends 2014, and the series moves onto 2015 on what is a optimistic note, but we the readers should know by know things are going to fuck up, and probably on a massive scale. Persephone’s hubris starts to be called into account, especially in the way she’s been treating Baal.
Persephone gets a much needed kick up the arse from Minerva, she makes it clear she’s out to bring Woden in to face justice, but he saves her the time and effort.
However, Woden being Woden, he has a plan to save his own arse.
That plan and Persephone’s reaction to that plan is by the looks of it what’s going to shape the direction of the series in the future, and as you’d expect, things are probably going to go very, very, very badly. Gillen and McKelvie are very much back on form with this issue after a bit of lull last issue, and I await the shit hitting the fan.
After the 1831 special, the series picks up after the shocking, bloody events of #22. Annake is dead, the old order is gone and now we’re to see what the Pantheon do now they don’t have Annake manipulating them.
Gillen chooses to do this not in conventional comic format, but as a fashion magazine, so what we have is essentially a pin-up issue with lots of text that explains how the world know that Annake was a manipulative murderer and that the remaining gods are now free to do their own individual plans.
We find out for example that Baal met with the UK government to give reassurances in order to help calm things down, and that we also find out Baal was the first to become a god which means out of the remaining gods he’ll be the first to die when his time is up.
There’s some good stuff in this issue. I especially licked Gillen’s tribute/satire of Laurie Penny’s writing style as well as the way important snippets of information sneak into the pages, but this is a quiet issue dealing with characters and how they’ve subtly changed in the time since we last saw them.
Overall this is a nice issue which sets up roughly what the new order is.
Yet for all its originality it’s a bit empty, like the gods themselves. Also by concentrating on a Guardian style of writing we only get the liberal to liberal-leftish reaction to the events, and it’d be nice to see how say, a right wing tabloid, or the left, deal with the pantheon as well as a metropolitan set of establishment voices that Gillen includes. That said, this is ultimately a linking and establishing issue; a sort of palate cleanser I imagine for what’s coming next.
After last issues Big Events, this is a palate cleanser or an annual to let the reader regain their breath before diving back into the main storyline which has taken a very interesting turn. 1831 is as you may expect, set in the year 1831 during a previous time when the pantheon walked the Earth. Rather than regular artist Jamie McKelvie, this issue is ably drawn by Stephanie Hans set by the shores of Lake Geneva which should perk up any fans of the book Frankenstein.
Here Annake is still scheming, still plotting while the individual Gods seem as vain and self-obsessed as the ones in the ongoing title, but it’s fun to see these 19th century versions of characters we’ve gotten to know over the last few years.
Here the Gods meet, drink, eat and tell each other tales to try to make each other’s blood turn cold.
What we find out is these are the last days of this particular Pantheon, and these are the last four gods remaining alive, yet this time’s Lucifer has a very familiar looking idea in the hope of returning their fallen comrades back to life in a magical way.
1831 is more than just a nice wee look into the past mythology of the Wicked and the Divine, it’s a crucial part of the plot that reveals background which is clearly going to be relevant in the future. I’d not pick this up if you’re thinking of diving into the story; this is for regular readers only and they definitely need to get this as it won’t be reprinted in any collected trade edition.
The blurb for this new horror comic by writer Jim Zub and artist Djibril Morrissette-Phan and published by Image Comics goes like this:
Farrah Durante is a middle-aged actress hunting for her next gig in an industry where youth trumps experience. Her frustrations become an emotional lure for something horrifying out beyond the water… something ready to exact revenge on the shallow celebrity-obsessed culture that’s led her astray. Fan-favorite JIM ZUB (WAYWARD, Thunderbolts) and newcomer DJIBRIL MORISSETTE-PHAN tear into the heart of Hollywood in GLITTERBOMB, a dramatic horror story about fame and failure.
The story kicks off with Durante being told in no uncertain terms her career is fucked.
After a fairly horrific incident the story flicks back from the horrific violence to a few hours earlier where Durante is auditioning for a job which she’s desperate to get.
Durante’s jaded with the vapid bullshit of Hollywood, but with nothing else she can do in life is trapped trying to get work in an industry she’s clearly grown to hate. Contemplating suicide Durante has a mysterious, and horrific encounter with something.
Glitterbomb is a comic which tries to expose the darker, grimmer side of fame, but ends up backing off as this is one of those comics which seems to have been written for a film or television adaptation. So it isn’t quite vicious or hard enough, not to mention Zub’s dialogue often swings into American television cliche, though Morrissette-Phan’s third generation Berni Wrightson homage is good enough the art suffers from being a tad bland.
That said Glitterbomb isn’t awful. There’s a potential here but this is all said and done a pretty average comic from Image.
The huge fight that kicked off last issue escalates as more of the Panethon realise just how much of a baddy Annake actually is.
Which leads into the battle getting bigger, and indeed, allows Gillen and McKelvie the chance to rip the piss out of supervillian dialogue.
The last couple of issues has allowed the creative team to play with the superhero fight, which gives McKelvie the chance to draw these characters in superheroic poses ready for battle.
Eventually we get the Pantheon versus Annake fight that’s been getting teased for nearly a year now.
I was considering that after this there’d not be much left to do with this comic as after all, the pantheon would likely defeat Annake, save the day and we’d have an ending yet that sort of happens although there’s much, much more to come as the ending here leaves Gillen and McKelvie with much left to tell.
But we’ll have to wait a few months. Next month is a one-shot set in 1931 and the series itself returns in November, then we’ll see how our cast cope with their actions in this issue.
Last issue’s filling in of the narrative gaps left things set up for a huge fight, but this is The Wicked and the Divine, it doesn’t do huge superhero style fight scenes, or at least, it only does a few panels and this issue starts establishing a few things like the return of Minerva to Valhalla and Annake before Laura and her group turn up.
For 20 issues this comic has been something different. It’s held back doing the obvious where lesser creators would have pandered, so we’re due a Big Fight Issue and we’ve got it.
And this is a REALLY BIG FIGHT ISSUE.
In amongst the hitting, punching and brutal action there’s also lots of plot. Annake also reveals herself to be a total and complete villain who needs to be stopped but there’s a glorious cliffhanger as we’re left wondering how do our heroes get out of this one?
This is fantastic stuff. Sure all the previous issues have been marvellous and fight scenes do get boring but this isn’t anything like that. As said, we’ve worked to get to this point and next issue is the end of this arc so it has much to live up to after this extraordinary great issue.
With the head of steam well and truly built up after the last issue Gillen and McKelvie get down to explaining exactly how Laura survived her murder by Annake even though it looked pretty conclusive that she was dead. This means filling in the gaps from previous issues.
And looking back we see characters realise that Annake is setting them up and unusual alliances are made..
It’s here we get the flashback that tells us how Laura survived, and also, just how much of an enormously evil old bastard Annake is.
After the flashbacks it’s revealed Laura has a very simple and possibly effective plan..
There’s a real sense the creative team are tying up lose ends for the Big Fight which will probably end this splendid series. Me, I reckon the Pantheon don’t have a limited lifespan at all, but in fact Annake kills them to prolong her life and she’ll be found out leaving our cast (or whoever ends up surviving the next few issues) to pick up the pieces and carry on.
We’ll see soon enough….