The Wicked + The Divine #39 // Review
The Wicked + The Divine #39, by writer Kieron Gillen, artist Jamie McKelvie, colorist Matthew Wilson, and letterer Clayton Cowles, brings the Mothering Invention story arc to an end. This is a very important issue, as it sets everything and everyone up for the final story arc coming in December, and it succeeds in every way.
The issue begins ten days after the last one ended. Minerva and Woden have found a way to replicate Dionysus’s powers for their mysterious final ritual when they get a confirmed sighting of Persephone. They send Woden’s Valkyries after her, but when they get there, they realize that she’s changed, and let her go to live in ignominy. On top of all this, there are flashbacks to 4001 BC, one with the original Ananke and her sister, tying into the first issue of the arc. Ananke’s sister tells her how the whole thing can potentially end, and Ananke accepts that. In the other flashback, set before the previous one, Ananke’s sister reveals that she’s laid a trap for Ananke that will one day end her.
The flashbacks have played a key part in this arc, and Gillen keeps it up here. The prophecy that Ananke’s sister lays out for her is a clever little trap, one which gives readers a hope for how Persephone can eventually triumph over her. It’s seems like everything is about to be tied up into a nice little bow before Gillen immediately unties it when he reveals what has happened with Persephone, whose going by her birth name of Laura again, in the preceding ten days. It drives a spike right through readers hopes, and, unlike everything else that has happened in the book so far, this wasn’t part of Ananke’s plan, but an action Laura herself took. Just as it seems like everything has fallen into Ananke’s hands, the second flashback reveals the trap and gives readers hope that there’s another way to beat her. It’s a perfect roller coaster, but it still leaves the whole thing open ended, not giving readers too much and preserving the mystery of exactly how everything can be resolved.
It’s implied that the lynchpin of the whole thing will be Laura, who has pretty much given up everything by this point. Throughout the series, she’s been on a journey of self discovery, but she’s defined herself not by who she was, but what she was doing. Gillen reveals to readers that she’s realized this and has taken her first step to stop it. She’s been going with the flow for so long, and she’s come to the conclusion that she needs to take charge of her life. Her realization that she isn’t a god, not really, has made all the difference in her life. She isn’t happy by any means, but she at least knows who she is and how she defines herself finally. The arc ends with her finding greater power in knowing who she is than she ever had before, in a moment that’s a nice callback to when the ending of the first arc. Gillen has brought her full circle, but she isn’t the Laura she was back then, and she isn’t Persephone, either. She’s something new, and maybe that new thing is what can finally put a stop to the Recurrence.
In comparison to some of the other issues in this arc, there’s really nothing special about the art here. Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson don’t produce a beautiful fight or wonderfully intricate period appropriate costumes or use inventive page layouts to interweave a battle with the combatants memories. That doesn’t mean it isn’t wonderful, though. McKelvie is still one of the best character pencillers in the business. He’s able to impart so much emotion with his art that it perfectly complements Gillen’s script. That’s very important in this issue. Readers need to feel the difference in Laura, and they need to feel Minerva’s triumph when she finds out what Laura has done. It makes the ending of the book, a full page spread of Laura realizing that she’s something entirely different than what she’s been, so powerful. Wilson’s colors do their job admirably, setting the tone for what’s happening on the page.
The Wicked + The Divine #39 is a quiet issue. Sometimes, story arcs end in a bang, but this one ends in a whisper, and it’s quite fitting. It sets the stage perfectly for what’s to come. Will the change in Laura be what is finally able to end Ananke? What is the Great Darkness, and can it really be stopped? This issue gives tantalizing glimpses into these mysteries, whetting readers’ appetites for what is to come. In that way, it’s the perfect end for the penultimate storyline of this book.