The Charlie Hebdo massacre hasn’t happened yet.
The Paris Bataclan killings haven’t happened yet.
The Brexit vote hasn’t happened yet.
President-elect Donald Trump wasn't even a serious Republican candidate yet.
Prince is still alive.
David Bowie is still alive.
For Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson, the future is undefined because now, after the young pop gods killed their guide and manipulator Ananke, they are now in charge of their own lives but don’t know what to do other than screw and fight amongst themselves. And that’s what this issue is as Laura, once the young and naive fan but now the goddess Persephone, discovers the boredom and pettiness of godhood. Screwing and fighting.
It’s fascinating to think that we’re watching Gillen and McKelvie build the future out of the past. With the comic’s present receding farther and farther into our past, this rift between fiction and reality creates an interesting distance between reality and fiction. For as much as it’s about gods and monsters, The Wicked + The Divine has focused on the humanity of its characters, their loves and their betrayals. And now these characters no longer have their shepherd so they’re asking, like we probably are as well, what now? Everything is unknown and unraveling. Welcome to our future.
As the second issue of the "The Imperial Phase" arc, this issue remains about the pettiness of these characters. Laura self-medicates with sex. Cassandra loses herself in her work so much she doesn’t even realize that it’s a new year. And Woden, Ananke’s right-hand underling, threatens to undo everything Laura has accomplished. 2015 isn’t a year for the gods that’s getting off to a great start.
When asked what to call her, Laura identifies herself as “The Destroyer,” a self-identification that she repeats when threatened by Woden. The future for these characters that Gillen and McKelvie are building towards feels just as tumultuous as our real future does. The issue opens with fireworks and sex and ends with blackmail and weapons drawn. The optimism of New Years is quickly followed by the weight of the unknown. The thrill of being young and foolish has been replaced the responsibility and consequence and those are two things that none of these characters are ready for yet.
The Wicked + The Divine #24 begins the future for Laura and this pantheon of gods and it’s not getting off to the best of starts. It’s not like this comic has ever referenced real world people or events (it’s not Phonogram) but we know that the world changes continues to evolve and change for better or for worse over 2015 and 2016. It’ll be interesting to see how real world events of 2015 and 2016 inform the comic about 2015 that Gillen and McKelvie are creating.
The Wicked + The Divine #24
Written by Kieron Gillen
Drawn by Jamie McKelvie
Colored by Matt Wilson
Lettered by Clayton Cowles
Published by Image Comics