This is a very mature performance from a team at the top of their game.
Issue #39 of The Wicked + The Divine marks the end of “Mothering Invention” Arc, the penultimate arc of WicDiv. So what impression does it leave, and is it worth your time?
The “Mothering Invention” arc has had a few themes, but the main one that springs to mind for me is truth. We have learned about the secrets behind the Gods and Ananke, and the truth about Baal. With truth comes lies, such as the lies between Minerva and Woden. This continues in issue #39, where we learn the truth behind Minerva’s fear of Laura’s pregnancy and the lie behind the game of the Gods. Like most of this arc, this issue uses the past to explain the actions of Minerva in the future. It’s an interesting issue as Keiron Gillen plays with hope, constantly giving and taking the hope that Minerva won’t succeed in her schemes. By the end we have a callback to the first volume and some questions about the meaning of the last page.
This issue doesn’t have some of the extravagant flourishes or big action scenes that we’ve seen earlier in this arc, but that doesn’t mean that it shies from emotional impact. It is very much focused on Minerva and Laura. Laura’s story is very personal and in some ways it’s very relatable as she tries to work out what she is. There is one sequence, and you will know it when you see it, where I think it is handled exceptionally well given the subject matter. The art and Gillen’s words really convey the emotions and it shows just how good Jamie McKelvie is with simple expressions and eye movement.
McKelvie’s work has been great in this arc, especially the ridiculous history sequence in issue 36 but I love his expressions in this issue. The range of emotions that he pulls off, especially with Minerva and Laura, is really impressive. It feels like this aspect of his work is getting better with each issue. I always appreciate Matthew Wilson’s work with the coloring. Here he uses multiple different palettes depending on the setting and each perfectly suit the scene and the mood while also keeping with the look of WicDiv. We get lots of different lighting and effects in this issue and Wilson nails it every time, which shouldn’t surprise me coming from one of my favourite colorists.
Issue #39 of WicDiv may not have the flashiness or the violence of earlier issues from this arc, but it is a crucial read. The way that our hopes are constantly raised and dashed, mixed with the subtle nuances of the storytelling makes this an issue that shows how good the creative team are. This is a very mature performance from a team at the top of their game.