THE WICKED + THE DIVINE #20
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson, Clayton Cowles & Dee Cuniffe
Published by Image Comics
Release Date: June 8, 2016
Don’t tell a god to not play God.
Laura reveals the truth about Inanna, Baphomet, and Ananke to Cassandra, who is not too enthused about the coming events. Laura, however, is still resolved after spending time with Baphomet away from Ananke’s prying eyes. She has a plan set in motion and she is dedicated to seeing it play out.
The Wicked + The Divine #20 on its own is a great issue. Laura uses her divine powers to show Cassandra what the other players around them have been up to, setting up a nice framework for the story in the issue. The story reveals machinations that were going on for issues before, so if someone started with this issue they’d essentially have the mystery of the past ten or so issues solved. Yet, having a point of reference makes the major reveals in this issue much more powerful. Going back to issue eleven, the initial part of what Laura shows Cassandra is told with vital pieces missing, setting up a scenario that would trick any reader. Hearkening back to these earlier installments to fill in the dots is a brilliant way to tell this story about gods and shows creativity and skill in setting up both a long con and believable red herrings.
Kieron Gillen’s structure for this issue allows the reader to get caught up to speed through Laura’s abilities. Many moments are condensed into a seamless progression of scenes, all of which have played out in the background of the series for many issues. I’m a fan of this type of storytelling because it’s engaging and forces me to think about temporal framing and events of prior issues. However, I can also see how it may be off putting to someone who isn’t familiar with the series. Regardless, Gillen has tied together many threads looming from the past year, while also developing these characters and revealing important parts of who they are.
The synthesis of Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson’s skills approach this issue’s visuals with a mix of intense and somber illustrations. Inanna’s interactions with Baphomet prior to confronting Ananke are full of Baphomet’s anger and Inanna’s hidden frustration. These moment culminate in a betrayal from their godly matron that is rife with each of the characters’ emotions, expressed through vivid colors and imagery. Contrast this scene with the darkness of Laura in the underworld, her and Baphomet’s bodies shrouded in darkness, the colors and images smoky, muted, and nearly engulfed in shadow. The pages where Laura and Cassandra are speaking are a further point of comparison, as the art is less graphic and much more straightforward. McKelvie and Wilson’s varying styles in this issue evoke important elements of the story as it progresses, guiding the reader visually through an emotional experience.
Clayton Cowles on lettering shows that the process involves more than just making words look nice. The Wicked + The Divine is the perfect series to showcase the wide application of lettering, and Cowles does just that. The varying color schemes help to provide emphasis and framing, creating distinction between the characters. For instance, bubbles for Laura and Baphomet are not much of a departure from convention, while Cassandra and Inanna both have distinct bubbles and schemes to match their speech and presence. These small touches add grandeur, wonder, and personality to each of the characters.
If you’re caught up with the series, The Wicked + The Divine #20 is going to rock your socks off. I caution that this is not a jumping on point, as you get a lot of information covered from the end of the second volume to the present. Still, if you happen to read this issue by itself, you’ll have more than enough questions that will make you want to collect the entire series. I’m excited for what’s next, as the revelations in this issue are going to have a profound effect on the series as it continues to up the ante.
The Verdict: 9.0/10