The Wicked + The Divine #35
The Wicked + The Divine #35, by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson, sees another secret of the Pantheon revealed...while presenting another deadly mystery.
It opens back in 1923, at the end of that Pantheon. It’s also where the first issue opened, but this takes readers inside the house as the last four members of that Pantheon prepare to take each others’ lives to stop the Great Darkness…but one of them doesn’t go through with it. Joining Ananke, they bring the still-living head of Susanoo down to a crypt with three other heads, where Ananke and this member of the Pantheon perform a ritual. Back in the present, Woden confronts Minerva about what he found out last issue and they make a tentative truce before he’s called back to Valhalla. Back in Valhalla, Laura and Cassandra continue their escape with Mimir in tow, but Woden is able to take him back. Minerva texts Cass and tells her about other secret rooms in Valhalla, one of which belongs to Baal. Laura goes to it and finds something horrifying. Minerva texts Baal, telling him someone has broke into his secret room. He teleports to the room, confronting Laura, and telling her he isn’t afraid of who he is… but everyone else should be.
Much like the last issue, this one opens with a big revelation about the nature of the Pantheon and Ananke, and it’s a game changer. Ananke, during every Recurrence, told the Pantheon that they had to die to stop the Great Darkness from destroying world, while also secretly collecting four heads. This issue tells us what the four heads are for and, adding that to the revelations of last issue about her, it leaves the reader wondering if the Great Darkness is as real or as dangerous as Ananke has lead the Pantheon to believe. The four heads and the Great Darkness have been the biggest mysteries of the book, and the reveal of one casts the other into some doubt. It’s a rather brilliant twist, and if it’s just a red herring or a misdirect, it’s still a good one. The Great Darkness may not be as a huge a threat as Ananke has said and this is a twisted game she plays; or it is that big a danger and the Recurrence is still a twisted game she plays; or it’s that a big a threat and Ananke, as shady and diabolical as she’s seemed, is a complicated hero who has saved the human race for thousands of years while also doing some bad things.
This is a big revelation, but it also keeps the reader guessing as to what’s going on. That’s always been one of Wic+Div’s greatest strength. It gives with one hand while taking with another. Gillen understands how to give the reader answers while also giving them more questions to string them along, to keep them coming back. It works here perfectly. The revelation in the beginning sets the tone for the other in the end, one that casts Baal in a whole new light. Without getting too spoiler-y, there are some rather horrible things associated with ancient Baal worship and readers are confronted with it here. Baal has never seemed like the type of character to carry this big a secret, but the reveal of it not only changes how the reader looks at the character, but makes him a more frightening presence. It also serves to keep the pace moving. Gillen could have ended the issue with Laura and Cassandra getting to safety and then going back to check on Baal’s secret room or just having them not believing Minerva about and doing the reveal another way, but this way it gives the whole thing the momentum it deserves. Gillen knows he’s about to reach the finish line, so he’s picked it up, moving things forward, revealing things readers have been wondering about, and wrapping up little hints he’s dropped along the way.
McKelvie’s art is great as always. One of the problems with Image books is that the consistent quality of the art means not much stands out, but that’s because it’s all so good. That’s a wonderful problem to have, though, and McKelvie’s pencils here are that in a nutshell. They’re so consistently good, that nothing stands out. It looks great throughout. As usual, his skill at facial expressions puts the cherry on top of everything, giving readers a window into the inner thoughts of the characters, without giving too much away. The last two pages are probably the best, which combines great page layout with McKelvie’s great facial and figure work to sell the Baal reveal perfectly. The final page evinces menace in a perfect way, leaving readers on a razor sharp cliffhanger.
The Wicked + The Divine #35 keeps the story chugging along with some jaw dropping revelations. Gillen, McKelvie, and Wilson are turning in some best of their work in this book and it just keeps getting better. This issues drops the reader’s jaws and leaves them begging them for more. The art is pitch perfect. Everything works together to create another amazing installment in the saga of the Pantheon.