Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #35 by Drew Barth
And Once Again
Five years. That’s how long Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, and Clayton Cowles have been creating The Wicked + The Divine. With that forty-fifth issue just being released this past week, it’s hard not to get nostalgic. Whether it was through the monthly issues, the trade paperbacks, the various specials, or the online support groups, all of us dug ourselves into the actual fandemonium the series had inspired.
But that’s all we’ve got. The series has ended.
We all knew WicDiv would end eventually. The premise of the series was that once a generation, young people would be bestowed godhood and would essentially become the cultural icons of their time. But in two years they would die as a means of fighting back the Great Darkness. The cycle happened for thousands of years, hundreds of times. That was the story that was told to each of the reincarnated gods by Ananke.
A more typical version of this story would have the reincarnated gods just fight the Great Darkness and win, or even to simply live out those two years and die one by one. But From Phonogram to Young Avengers to WicDiv, Gillen and McKelvie have never done a simple thing in their collaborations together.
WicDiv is a story in which all of the stories we had been told before are lies. There is no Great Darkness, and there is no reason anyone has to die outside of one character’s belief that they should be witness to history and that their story should be the one that is sustained throughout all of human culture. And the biggest lie of all is that the story needs to keep going.
But what they never tell you is that the story can just stop. The characters can just say “no” like they’re in an anti-drug ad. The stories ended because these characters gave up being those characters. The gods they had been reincarnated as—and the names we as observers of this story had grown accustomed to calling them—were given up, and they were just people again. Permanently mortal people. The godhood wasn’t a costume or ring to take on and off, but an aspect of the story they would have found themselves trapped in. And as a reader, we can see these changes happening. From the characters themselves to the way in which the panels within the book have been set up—it all points toward an exiting of the programmatic story.
But then, now what? The last pages of the last issue are intentionally left blank. We’ve begun and ended the story with a mortal Laura Wilson and all the godhood in-between—and we must create a new story from the space we’ve been left.
If The Wicked +The Divine is about anything, it’s about the stories we tell to get through life. It’s about the music we share as a part of those stories. It’s about the drama and the theater of existing. It’s about people making decisions—mostly bad decisions—and having to deal with the repercussions.
For a story about reincarnations of gods, it’s a weirdly humbling experience to see a very human level of consequence. We never felt catharsis during those times we would see the scared kids wearing god costumes underneath all the pomp and circumstance. As far as the story Ananke had told them had gone to their head, there was always that human element within.
I don’t think we’re going to see a series like The Wicked + The Divine for a while. And that’s okay. That’s why those last pages were blank in the last issue.
Get excited. Make a story.
Drew Barth (Episode 331) is a writer residing in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.