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  1. #1
    Astonishing Member JKtheMac's Avatar
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    Default The Wicked + The Divine. Ongoing Spoilers, Theories, and Fan Feels.

    As revelations and incidents are happening at a fast and furious pace I thought it might be easier to keep an ongoing discussion thread rather than reviewing each issue and then pondering and discussing it every month.

    We are currently at #20 which begs a synopsis not least because it is a spoiler thread but I will place this first one in spoiler tags primarily because this is the first post.

    spoilers:

    This is mainly a flashback issue filling in the major gaps from the perspective of Laura and 'Baphomet'. The Norns turn up at Laura's house in response to a text from beyond the grave, Laura meets Cass and fills her in on the background. In many ways she trumps Cassandra's video journalism by providing her with a full on vision of what happened.

    We learn Laura never actually died, the panel leaves some ambiguity as to her injuries but she at least fell into a depression once she was taken to the Underworld. As if to complete the missing pieces of her myth cycle we learn that Baphomet is an alias. Instead, Cameron was Nergal and from his apotheosis it would appear in the aspect of the 'sun in the underworld' in the form of a fiery lion.

    We learn it was Inanna that technically saved Laura, it was his 'purple rain' flying that pushed her away and he who stood between Ananke and her target, before Baphomet/Nergal pulled her into the underworld.

    It turns out Laura initiated the sex between her and her underworld protector, and Persephone’s mission statement is “we have to save everyone”.

    Laura explains to Cass that they are about to storm Valhalla and when Cass tries to stop her she realises that Laura is a projection from Minerva’s owl. From Cass and Laura's interaction we get the first indication that Laura is still in there, as by reaching out to her she is explaining events to "the only person left that remembers me". She is portrayed as very human throughout this issue in contract to her dark and angry aspect in the last couple of issues. She has positive motivation and a humane regard for her fellow deities.
    end of spoilers

  2. #2
    Astonishing Member JKtheMac's Avatar
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    A couple of things we were not sure about get teased out here:

    It is possible for there to be more than twelve gods in a cycle.
    Cameron did receive a proper Apotheosis even if it did turn him into a different deity.
    Ananke is choosing who can become deities instead of discovering the spark of divinity in the population.

    What we still don’t know:

    Can there be more than twelve deities at once?
    Is Ananke necessary for apotheosis?
    What Ananke’s machine actually is and why it requires sacrifice.
    Who Tara was.
    Who Woden’s partner is.
    Why there are so many sun aspects running around.
    Whether the are actually deities are necessary for culture.
    Whether Ananke’s plan is for the greater good.

    I had speculated and discussed how it didn't add up that Baphomet could have killed Inanna, and we get proof here that the Woden flashback issue was indeed a veiled revelation that Ananke killed him. It still isn't clear what she hoped to gain by pitting Inanna and Baphomet against each other. Was it just to get Laura's allies fighting off screen or was she just trying to thin out the potential troublemakers and get everyone looking the other way? The framing of Baphomet for Laura's death seemed to be a happy coincidence, but perhaps her plan was always to blame whoever survived.

    Is Cameron just hiding his divine identity or is there more to this? The voice in his head seems to imply more, maybe he is suppressing Nergal. Geek associations aside (comic / computer game / metal) Nergal is not the kind of deity you want to let loose too often, and Ananke may have chosen this on purpose.
    Last edited by JKtheMac; 06-10-2016 at 12:11 AM.

  3. #3
    Astonishing Member JKtheMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JediKage View Post
    Chances that Pink Woden is Laura's Sister?

    Anyway. Its not that it was obvious that is the problem. Its the fact we are losing Shades of Gray. I find Baphomet (Nergal) getting manipulated into doing Ananke's dirty work and then having a revelation far more compelling then him stopping at that last minute.
    I can understand your concern that things are becoming simplified in terms of good and evil, and motivations. I just don't think we are far enough into the story to make that call. As is always the problem when you review a story part way through, we don't have a good perspective on the overall structure. We don't know how many acts there are going to be. As a culture we are so programmed by the three act structure of most movies we unconsciously mutate any story we are following into that.

    So following a story like this you get to the twist and you map it onto the three act structure and imagine we are moving into the third act. Interestingly this whole arc/trade is called Rising Action, which suggests Gillen is well aware of this as well. He is deliberately playing into the audience expectations and making us think we are heading into the third act / big battle.

    We are not. We know the story is longer than that, so this is a bit of a fake-out. There is a bigger twist comming, and we know this purely because the structure can't be a three act story. There is clearly a lot we don't know about the back story and Ananke and that is what we are rushing towards. If I was writing this I would probably have the protagonist discover the underlying reasons for everything and the real story just after killing or defeating the bad guy. So maybe in three or four issues time we will have a better idea what is going on.
    Last edited by JKtheMac; 06-10-2016 at 12:10 AM.

  4. #4
    Astonishing Member JKtheMac's Avatar
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    Now that we have had time for issue 20 to sink in how do we feel about Laura?

    It was clear for the first two trades that Laura was the protagonist and the character that served as our POV introduction to the world of the pantheon. Then I had the feeling from some commentators both here and on tumblr that when Persephone returned that Laura was somehow gone, dead or repressed.

    So now it has been revealed that Laura didn't die, except perhaps on an emotional, grief stricken, and mystical level, and that she seems to retain some of her humanity, how do we see her?

    For me, her apparent death made me less focused on the huge grief that she would have felt following the murder of both parents. I am so used to comics dealing with grief by focusing on the anger or bargaining stages, I was almost forgetting the other issues Laura would be facing. This issue was a shocking reminder to me how much of Laura's life has been ripped away.
    Last edited by JKtheMac; 06-15-2016 at 01:52 AM.

  5. #5
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    Well I think Laura is going to have to flip some of Ananke's Team. Her team is basically getting carried by Morrigan at this point. Laura is good but she is new. We know Baphomet cant beat Baal straight up. Heck he doesn't even think he stand a chance we saw that when he was picking targets to kill. Cass because know one liked her. Not Minerva because he couldn't kill a kid. Not Baal because he didn't think he would win. So Inanna cause he is easy.


    I wish we could get more into the head of team Ananke. I mean we know what Woden is thinking and Sahkmet. But I don't feel we ever really gotten into Baal and Ama's heads the same way. And they are certainly the swayable options.

    To answer your questions.

    1) Looks like there can be more then 12. Granted we haven't see flashbacks for all of them. But it might be only 12 alive max at a time. Since 2 gods were dead before Laura.
    2) I think Ananke is necessary we only seen anyone become a god thanks to her. Now it could be she is fudging the rules now.
    3) It looks like its powered by Divine Energy. I don't know how she is picking who is powering it though. Seems like either Inanna or Nergal would have worked. We just don't know she needs Minerva for it to work for some reason. And she is not killing her for it. Now turning the machine on with Minerva might kill her.
    4) I don't think we will know. I don't think which goddess she actually was matters.
    5) Laura's Sister seems most likely. Assuming its a character we have already met and the height is consistent.
    6) No Idea although every pantheon has a Sun God, its a pretty consistent deity.
    7) Well apparently they are suppose to hold back the darkness. Not sure if they are necessary. We haven't really seen the threat unless its Ananke but it seems weird to make people who can challenge you. Unless you have to for some reason.
    8) Well if its not we are losing some series Shades of Grey. And it becomes Ananke Evil or at least a Fallen Heroine of some sort. I don't think its going to be so bog straight.

  6. #6
    Astonishing Member JKtheMac's Avatar
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    I don't see the Laura's sister connection at all. Where are you picking up the hint?

    But I am interested if you or anyone else is feeling the shift in identification and empathy with Laura. I keep one eye on tumblr and it felt like there was a shift away from empathising with her when it seemed that she hadn't come back quite human. People were saying things like "that's not Laura, she is dead, that is just Persephone." But of course now we know it is Laura, and we have a better perception of her mental state.

  7. #7
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    Well if we assume Pink Woden someone we met. And since Woden was put in charge of cleaning up the bodies at the house. And Based on relative heights she seems a good fit. Plus its a good mindfuck/leverage over Laura.

    Yeah that is the problem. We don't know how becoming a god affects personality. I mean obviously her personality changed but that might just be traumatic events.

  8. #8
    Astonishing Member JKtheMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JediKage View Post
    Well if we assume Pink Woden someone we met. And since Woden was put in charge of cleaning up the bodies at the house. And Based on relative heights she seems a good fit. Plus its a good mindfuck/leverage over Laura.
    OK, I kind of see where you are coming from there with the clean-up thing. I don't think it matches the dialogue though, as that implies a longer relationship with a power dynamic that suggests she has something on him worse or at least different to what we already know. Also the design choice of horns may suggest something more divine and that again may suggest it is possible to become apotheosised without Ananke. I know his whole shtick is granting powers through technology but I just have a feeling this is something different and as it is a secret from Ananke it may very well be related to her plans.
    Last edited by JKtheMac; 06-17-2016 at 09:21 AM.

  9. #9
    Astonishing Member JKtheMac's Avatar
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    Still digesting #21 but wow they pulled out some big guns here. They are taking the 'Rising Action' moniker seriously.

    Wodan suddenly stepped up in a huge way, but apparently still on the wrong side. Ananke's main weakness is demonstrated yet again, in that she seems unaware of the phenomenon of instant public opinion. The red dot joke seemed a little overplayed. (We get it without the added dialogue.)

    I learn from the extensive poll results that people my age are probably in the minority reading this comic, but on the other hand I am proof the poll skewed towards young because I had meant to fill it in (started to at least once) but I think life got in the way. Although, I honestly can't remember if I ever finished and submitted it which is also a symptom of my age.

    Surprise, surprise, this comic has a wide appeal to non-cis readers. Or at least people that know what terms like heteronormative means. And, the dirty secret of internet pirates is that they also buy stuff, which is always pointed out by polls but hardly ever mentioned in the mainstream press.

    I am actually surprised how many North Americans read this comic. It feels very European in outlook and subverting the superhero genre is not something I expect to play well there. I guess the comic being under the Image label helps quite a bit here.

  10. #10
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    Eh this story is losing me as Ananke moves into straight up evil and the ambiguity bleeds away. Also did Ama die I assume she dodged or something but was unsure. Especially since Ananke due to plot armor decides not to just one shot Nergal.

  11. #11
    Astonishing Member JKtheMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JediKage View Post
    Eh this story is losing me as Ananke moves into straight up evil and the ambiguity bleeds away. Also did Ama die I assume she dodged or something but was unsure. Especially since Ananke due to plot armor decides not to just one shot Nergal.
    I honestly believe the nuance will come later, although there is a possibility that they will kill Ananke first then realise she was key to holding human culture together. Either way we are in the false "rising action" stage of the story where perhaps overly clear lines are being drawn between preconceived ideas of good and evil.

    Put it this way, any writer willing to draw upon ancient mystery cults for inspiration is no doubt aware of the false dichotomy of our notions of good and evil.

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    Well hot diggity damn. That was some stuff, huh?

    Can't help but wonder where things will go from here. My guess is Persephone will end up becoming a villain somehow (or at least, somehow, a destructive force, if not necessarily a villain). And likely, ramifications from whatever Ananke was trying to accomplish.

    Gillen's been hyping up #23 as being a very experimental issue for a bit now, so I'm very excited for that; and to see the new direction the series ends up going, post-Ananke. In the meantime, a pantheon of Romantic gods next month!

  13. #13
    Astonishing Member JKtheMac's Avatar
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    I am not a big fan of action sequences in comics, they steal all the story space, but the action certainly built into a satisfying arc.

    Yes Jinjonator, that certainly was some 'stuff', a deep pile of it with a cherry on top. As Gillen points out in the letter column he kind of took the fun out of the deed. This was clearly the wrong way to go for Persephone, and she was almost goaded into it, which makes me worry that she is a backup plan. A standby Anakin to Ananke's Palpatine. And miraculously Wodan is still standing, which pleases me greatly, it would be a real waste to dispose of such a nuanced bad guy.

    I am guessing the Cassandra / Amaterasu shippers will be delighted, (or if they didn't exist before they certainly will now.). God knows somebody needs to crack that cynical 'I know everything' veneer. At some point I am assuming the Pantheon will realise they have been played, and that they are just normal people that were elevated. That everybody has a divine reflection if you look close enough, and Cass, as an academic and a journalist had been rendered toothless and sidelined by her transformation. I also assume that it will take some time before they realise the truth, based upon the name of the next trade arc. We will probably get a huge helping of hubris before the inevitable cracks and conflicts widen.

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    Ugh please no Cass and Ama. It muddles the point of them clashing a lot. Cultural Appropriation is a Real Problem.

    Yeah I am pretty darn sure Ananke just Palpatine'd Persephone.

    Now what I am curious about is with Ananke out of the way...does the 2 year rule actually apply.
    Last edited by JediKage; 08-19-2016 at 01:55 AM.

  15. #15
    Astonishing Member JKtheMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JediKage View Post
    Ugh please no Cass and Ama. It muddles the point of them clashing a lot. Cultural Appropriation is a Real Problem.

    Yeah I am pretty darn sure Ananke just Palpatine'd Persephone.

    Now what I am curious about is with Ananke out of the way...does the 2 year rule actually apply.
    Gillen is being playful with the fears of modern academia, so there is no way we have seen the last of the cultural appropriation theme.

    Two years! Right now I would be surprised if they haven't killed each other within six months.

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