The Wicked + The Divine #44
It’s the twilight of the gods in The Wicked + The Divine #44, by writer Kieron Gillen, artist Jamie McKelvie, colorist Matthew Wilson, and colorist Clayton Cowles. This penultimate issue of the series wraps up a lot of the plot lines and does so in an emotionally satisfying way.
As the now powerless Valkyries and Norns leave Valhalla, they are arrested by the London police. On top of Valhalla, Lucifer reveals that she won’t be giving up her powers like the rest of them have and none of them can stop her. Laura uses what’s left of her abilities to appeal to Lucifer’s humanity. Pulling her out of her anger. Allowing her to become Eleanor again. Laura is ready to kill Minerva, but Umar, the former Dionysus, steps in. He tells Minerva that death is nothing to be frightened of but that they shouldn’t kill her and Laura agrees, as long as they can keep Minerva imprisoned. Valentine, the ex-Baal, doesn’t like that idea though and decides to take matters into his hands, throwing himself and Minerva off the roof. As the cops come, Cassandra, the former main Norn, comes up with a plan that won’t end with them all being shot by the cops. Later in court, as the judge is about to give Laura her sentence, she smiles.
Laura rescuing Eleanor from herself is beautiful. Eleanor, as Lucifer was able to be everything to everyone. She was a dream for so many people, and that gave Eleanor a reason to live. The power and the lust kept her going, and she was addicted to it. She and Laura are kindred spirits in that way. Before becoming Persephone, all Laura wanted was to be someone important. SHe wanted to be like the Pantheon, and she got her wish. The thing about wishes, though, is that they aren’t real, not really. One can get what they want and realize that it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Laura shows Eleanor that she’s important without all that, though, just like Laura had to realize about herself. It’s a moving, powerful moment.
Valentine’s fate is inevitable and heartbreaking. The ex-Baal did some terrible things because of Minerva/Ananke’s lies. He can’t forgive himself, and he certainly can’t forgive her. Even though he has a second chance for love and life with Zahid, the former Inanna, he doesn’t feel worthy of it. He can’t live with what he’s done, and he can’t allow Minerva/Ananke to live either. The only way out for him is death, and the only thing she deserves in his mind is the same. It’s a terrible ending for him, but it’s one that couldn’t be avoided. As time has gone on, he’s gotten more and more burnt out by what he’s done, falling lower and lower. He can only see one way out. There’s no redemption for him, and the thought that he did terrible things for what he thought were the right reasons has been taken. He’s always been the pragmatic one of the bunch, so he does what he has always done- fights the monster, even if the monster is him and child possessed by a six thousand-year-old woman.
Jamie McKelvie’s art is stellar as usual. The highpoint of the issue is Laura saving Eleanor from herself. It’s reminiscent of the sequences where the Pantheon members got their powers, but Anake’s faces are rotting away, and instead of falling, Laura is climbing down to grab Eleanor from the flames of Lucifer’s power. Throughout the book, his character acting really helps to sell the emotions of the script, making it all that much more powerful.
The Wicked + The Divine #44 closes out much of the book’s plotlines, and it does so in an emotionally affecting, perfect way. Kieron Gillen’s script hits all the points it needs to hit, but saying it that way takes away from the sheer artistry and majestic beauty of what is accomplished in this issue. Laura saving Eleanor with love is the wonderful capstone of their relationship, a dizzying high. Valentine taking care of Minerva/Ananke and himself is a low. Valentine is a man unable to forgive himself for actions he was manipulated into and reacting the only way he knows how. There’s a perfect juxtaposition between these moments- one where love wins and one where it loses- that is so amazing, it puts this issue into a league of its own. Jamie McKelvie’s art, as usual, is the perfect accompaniment to Gillen’s script, giving it life and making those emotional beats work that much better. There’s one more issue to go, and if it’s anything like this one, it will be amazing.