Waste of paper. No, that’s not right. That’s offensive to the artists as the illustrations were brilliant, but there may as well have been no words. Seriously. Very little happens. At least very little that makes sense or contributes to plot progression. Only the last few pages have any real meaning with a humdinger of a cliffhanger that leaves you with multiple questions and countless theories.
We meet Dionysus and Prince lookalike Innana. We find out some superfans believe if they kill a god then they’ll absorb their powers, which isn’t true for everyone except Baphomet – maybe. Ananke seems to be manipulating the gods into making themselves vulnerable enough for her to kill them. (Is she stealing their lives to maintain immortality? Or is she ‘removing’ troublemakers?) Ananke deliberately told Bap not to kill other gods because he alone could absorb their remaining time on Earth to extend his own life, and of course, what does Bap do? He’s on Ananke’s to-kill list after he takes Innana’s life. Baphomet’s symbolic upside down crucifixion of Innana was interesting. That and Innana’s forgiving Baphomet and warning him that stealing his life force will just prolong Bap’s misery. It’s also hinted that Bap is the one behind framing Lucifer for the judge’s death. And finally our naive protagonist Laura is bumped off by Ananke after she turns her into Persephone.
Superfan Laura being murdered during the afterglow of becoming a god came as a shocking cliffhanger. Although I’m not sure I believe she’s truly gone due to the god she became. Ananke could’ve killed her when she was still human, so why didn’t she? Persephone travels between two worlds and is separated from her husband in the Underworld and reunited with her mother every six months. Might this have something to do with it?
Taking Laura’s parents’ lives may have been a tactical move. Perhaps Laura’s mother would take on the role of Persephone’s mother Demeter. Upset at the loss of her daughter to Hades for half the year, Demeter brings on winter by withdrawing her power over vegetation growth allowing crops to wither and winter to take hold. Laura’s mother may not have powers but she could turn the world against the gods after watching Ananke murder her innocent daughter.
We’re told only twelve gods are remade. Cassandra turns out to be the twelfth, Urdr, the Norse goddess of fate and a seer of past, present and future as part of the trio of Norns. Notice Cassandra’s name is that of the Greek prophetess cursed by Apollo to never be believed. Well, that happens here, too.
Laura is the thirteenth god. (How’s that possible?) Being Persephone may explain why her presence is so readily accepted by the gods of the Underworld in Baphomet and The Morrigan since she’s married to Hades, by the sky gods Baal and Amaterasu as she’s the daughter of Zeus, the love and fertility god Innana as Persephone is also the daughter of harvest goddess Demeter, and finally Dionysus since she’s his mother (and Zeus is his father, if you’re wondering. Incest, yo!)
The Faust Act didn’t exactly blow me away. I’m still frustrated with these characters. They feel shallow and superfluous. Except for Lucifer and she’s dead. I miss her. Cassandra feels like Luci-lite and I’m not digging her angst. And Laura’s desperation is off-putting.
Having the two characters with the most stage time whacked by the same person in the same way is repellent and repetitive. Whether you loved them or hated them, Lucifer and Laura were our main connections to this universe. By seeing the world through their eyes we grew attached to them. Who’s left for us to care about?
A British setting (loved seeing the Excel Centre hosting Fantheon as they hosted fan event LonCon3 last year which I attended), a mixed race protagonist, plenty of non-stereotypical GLBT and non-white characters, vibrant illustrations and a fascinating mythology are all things I admire in the W+D universe. However, a jumpy narrative, the lack of plot progression and meaningful dialogue is difficult to tolerate.
Twelve gods, I think, were too many to adequately develop. It feels as if they’re thrown into scenes or forced to converse with Laura just because they’ve had very little stage time and the audience hasn’t had a chance to get to know them yet. This has slowed the pace of the story to plodding (I was so bored reading this) and plot threads have been too quickly resolved (who and why were snipers shooting at the gods?) which was anticlimactic or forgotten until the closing act (Laura’s obvious god ability). The Faust Act did a lot more in 144 pages than Fandemonium did in 166.
Reviews of the next few issues of the comic aren’t reassuring. It seems plot is completely absent in favour of telling back stories. If one of those is Ananke’s then that might be helpful. Should my library purchase the third volume, I may skim it. The Wicked + The Divine‘s mythology is compelling but I’m not willing to waste money on it.