The Wicked + the Divine #7 is all about the world-building. In the “Faust Act” arc, the focus was predominantly on Luci and Laura, but in “Fandemonium”, Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie slow down the pace (slightly in this issue) and start to explore the other gods. Inana got fleshed out last issue, and it’s Woden’s party this time around. Gillen shows his incredibly creepy relationship with the Valkyries and also reveals why he doesn’t show his face. This is all set at the London Fantheon where Laura is continuing to find Luci’s killer (who Inanna thinks is a fan) while simultaneously coming to grips with her own fame after a “Near God Experience”. Gillen and McKelvie use the con setting to continue to explore the nature of fandom with McKelvie using a looser drawing style to depict the sea of fans at a San Diego Comic Con or Glastonbury Festival. However, there are some real plot developments as Laura tries to find her place in the world somewhere between cynical fan or nascent god.
One of the continual highlights of WicDiv has been Jamie McKelvie’s detailed depictions of character’s faces, outfits, and emotions as well as Matthew Wilson’s colors, which give each god a unique glow or lack of glow. In WicDiv #7, McKelvie and Wilson depart from this detail to show the overwhelming nature of mass fan gatherings to the talent/creators as well as the impersonal nature of some shows/conventions. It also has a storytelling and character development purpose as Laura begins to distance herself from the fans, who she was once proud to be a part of, but now are cashing in on the tragedy of horrible events, like Luci’s death. McKelvie and Wilson used muted grey color tones and little to no lines to show the same-y nature of the attendees of Fantheon. They aren’t part of the story, but Laura was once part of them. Gillen, McKelvie, and Wilson do quite the balancing act of commenting on the fan/creator relationship (in person, not online yet) while making their heroine a little bit more self-aware and cynical, but with a long way to go.
But back to the gods. WicDiv #7’s cover isn’t misleading as the Daft Punk look-alike, Asian female Valkyrie having Woden gets a lot of panel time and helps provide deeper insight into the immortals beyond them being sex and drugs obsessed pop stars with superpowers. In fact, Kieron Gillen turns the whole concept of immortal gods on its head by having them being frightened about death and jealous of their fellow deities. While other gods are played for humor (Pungeon Master Baphomet) or pathos (exploited child star Minerva) in WicDiv #7, Woden is just pathetic, pathetic, and actually very mortal. He has weaknesses which could make him a sympathetic figure in spite of all his creepiness. Whether readers begrudgingly like, hate, or are disgusted by him, Gillen and McKelvie have crafted another complex figure in their earthly/cosmic drama. Wilson adds to Woden’s otherness by giving him and his Valkyries an ethereal green and pink glow offset by black.
The Wicked + the Divine #7 is another funny (Mr. Gillen continues to outdo himself in the pun department), poignant, and gorgeous chapter in the 2014 comic of the year. The pacing may seem less than urgent at times with Laura and Cassandra wandering the con floor, but Gillen throws in a few explosive twists to keep readers on their feet. What keeps me coming back to reading and reviewing this comic is the sheer amount of ideas, content, and storytelling techniques to unpack. From a “guest” two page spread to Laura continuing to be attracted to the baddest of boys (or gods), WicDiv #7 is a veritable tapestry of character development, storytelling innovation, and insights into things as disparate (or similar) as fandom and mortality with a last page twist.