In this special issue of The Wicked + The Divine, we get a glimpse at another pantheon from the past, one that possibly reveals some truth about the future. Is it good?
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Matt Wilson
Publisher: Image Comics
In 455 AD, the Vandals are sacking Rome, only one god of the Pantheon is left, and he is determined to change history. Lucifer has gone from a struggling actor, to a god, to declaring himself the new Julius Caesar and ruling Rome. But his real battle is with Ananke – all the other gods of his pantheon have mysteriously died, but he knows Ananke is the reason and he is not ready to die. So he lives on…but the extra time reveals a hideous truth.
Is It Good?
I have really enjoyed the two special issues of past pantheons and how the WicDiv team uses them to connect to the present pantheon’s struggles. This one not only is entertaining on its own, but it’s an especially good read coming on the heels of what we learned about Ananke in the last standard issue.
Setting the issue in 455 AD Rome made for really interesting and complicated character study, having Lucifer value being a Roman Emperor from a past time of glory over being a god. Emperors were considered divine and could be voted to deity status after death, by the aptly named Imperial Cult of Rome (I see what you did there, Gillen). But most interesting was his ability to stand up to Ananke and literally defy her power to take his life prematurely.
This isn’t the first time the question of the two year lifespan has been raised, but getting a very visceral (literally) look at what happens to at least one god when he goes beyond his allotted time is sobering for the current pantheon. Are the cracks starting to show with the current group?
While the story was compelling, I didn’t really respond to the art, but I think this is a pure matter of personal taste – this just isn’t my style. The colors were a bit muted and added to the light line work, the whole effect was a bit flat. There were some gorgeous panels – I loved the scene with Inanna and the Hun. Also, I’m just not a gore fan and the entire last half of the book was really difficult for me to read, but again, that’s a personal problem. I think horror fans will definitely appreciate it.
My big problem was the flashbacks to Lucifer’s days as an actor. The delineation between the past and the present was very subtle and I completely missed it the first time I read the issue. It was only on my second read that I noticed the flashback panels were full page, and the present had a white border. It made my reading experience confusing, since I couldn’t tell what was happening when.
Overall, I love these special issues and it’s a great chance to showcase different artists (though I never get tired of Jamie McKelvie’s work). Gillen and team have created an incredibly deep world and I’m excited to see what previous pantheon we’ll see next.