The Wicked + The Divine 31: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Spencer Irwin

Wicked + The Divine 31

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

In order to increase the likelihood that students will call for medical assistance in an alcohol-related emergency, some colleges and universities have instituted “Good Samaritan” or medical amnesty policies that eliminate or reduce judicial consequences for students involved in alcohol-related medical emergencies. Other schools may reject this type of strategy based on arguments such as the need to “avoid sending the wrong message” about the seriousness of underage drinking.

Doborah K. Lewis & Timothy C. Marchell,
Safety first: a medical amnesty approach
to alcohol poisoning at a U.S. university”

Drew: I first encountered the notion of a medical amnesty policy in college, though I can’t say I gave it much thought at the time. Indeed, it wasn’t until I was in a position to be worried about dangerously drunk/overdosing students not coming forward (I worked for several years at a summer camp for high-school students) that I started to appreciate how boneheaded the “avoid sending the wrong message” camp truly is. Mostly, it just forgets that the rules against drinking and alcohol use are there for the safety of the students in the first place, somehow valuing the sanctimonious tut-tutting of saying “you shouldn’t drink” over, you know, saving the life of a kid who broke the rules. It’s such an obviously flawed attitude, I was honestly taken aback when I saw reports that some sheriff in Florida was explicitly not offering amnesty to folks with warrants seeking shelter from Hurricane Irma. Or, more specifically, he was insisting on conducting unconstitutional ID checks in order to deter anyone with a warrant from seeking the refuge of a hurricane shelter, endangering their lives because he somehow values laws — the things society makes in order to protect people — more than actually protecting people.

Before I get too off topic, my point is that we’re often too preoccupied with the letter of the law to really parse its spirit. Certain things may be illegal because they’re dangerous, but if coming forward about illegal activity makes things objectively less dangerous, we should encourage that behavior. The article I quoted at the top of this piece offers objective data in support of that idea after studying a medical amnesty policy at Cornell, but I think it’s crucial to note that this type of thinking doesn’t just operate at the institutional level. Even in our daily lives we often react badly to honesty simply because we dislike the truths being revealed, but like the researchers at Cornell, we must recognize how that attitude only makes the situation worse. I found myself thinking about this phenomenon a great deal as I read The Wicked + The Divine 31, as issues of amnesty (and lack thereof) cropped up throughout the issue. Continue reading

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A Toxic Relationship Smorgasbord in The Wicked + The Divine 30

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

My best friend has a particularly notorious habit of falling for the absolute worst women. The poorer of a match they are for him, the more he’s attracted to them. He’s shrugged off our warnings with “well, you can’t help who you’re attracted to,” to which I would inevitably respond “Just because you’re attracted to someone doesn’t mean you need to always go for them!” It’s a statement that wouldn’t stop going through my head as I read Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s The Wicked + The Divine 30, an issue chock full of dysfunctional, toxic relationships and characters who know how screwed up their love lives are, yet leap head-first into them anyway, as if they never had a choice. Continue reading

The Wicked + The Divine 28

Alternating Currents: Wicked + The Divine 28, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing The Wicked + The Divine 28, originally released April 12th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Drew: Fatalism has always been baked into the world of The Wicked and the Divine. Right from the start, we understood that the pantheon were destined to die, though the exact reasons for their death remained mysterious. In the wake of Ananke’s death, our characters have begun to question whether or not they are truly doomed to die — they know only what Ananke told them, but no longer trust her words. As the pantheon variously pursue their different paths, some in hopes of defying what may-or-may-not be their destiny, I can’t help but wonder if their names might offer some hint about what those destinies might be. Continue reading

The Wicked + The Divine 26

wicked-and-divine-26Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing The Wicked + The Divine 26, originally released February 8, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: Set in the aftermath of Ananke’s death, “Imperial Phase (Part 1)” has been an arc all about figuring out what to do next. Last month’s cliffhanger finally presented a tangible threat in the form of the Great Darkness (or at least some of its agents), but if you thought that’d be enough to unite the Pantheon against a common enemy, you’d be sadly mistaken. The Wicked + The Divine 26 finds these gods as divided and lost as ever…and perhaps suggests that’s the way they’re meant to be? Continue reading

The Wicked + The Divine 25

wicked-and-divine-25Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing The Wicked + The Divine 25, originally released January 4th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: There’s been an air of aimlessness to The Wicked + The Divine‘s fifth arc; with Ananke dead, it seems like the Pantheon don’t really know what to do with themselves. This quality is clearly a purposeful choice on Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s part, as this entire storyline seems to revolve around figuring out “what comes next?” Issue 25 provides at least one solution (in the most shocking way possible), but what may be more significant is the way it emphasizes — both to the Pantheon and the audience — what questions about the future they should actually be trying to answer in the first place. Continue reading

International Iron Man 2

internat'l iron man2

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing International Iron Man 2, originally released April 27th, 2016.

Patrick: We hear a lot of grumbling about the ubiquity of original stories in superhero fiction. Hell, I do a bunch of it myself. Aside from the fact that we’ve basically seen them all before, one of the reasons these stories feel so unsatisfying is because there’s a huge leap in logic from traumatizing inciting event to costumed superheroics. A young Bruce Wayne sees his parents gunned down, and the only gaps between that and Batman that we ever need filled in are those that answer how he become such a physical bad-ass. But obsessions, passions and pathologies don’t develop in an instant — they grow over a lifetime. International Iron Man 2 explores more of what makes Tony Stark tick in those small, measured moments between dramatic reveals, even as Tony himself searches for answer he knows will be unsatisfying. Continue reading

The Wicked + The Divine 10

wicked and divine 10

Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing The Wicked + The Divine 10, originally released May 6th, 2015.

You know what hope is?
Hope is a bastard.
Hope is a liar, a cheat and a tease.
Hope comes near you?
Kick its backside:
Got no place in times like these.

Ben Folds and Nick Hornby, “Picture Window”

Patrick: The world of The Wicked + The Divine posits that everyone wants something just beyond their reach. Fans just want to connect with the gods, the gods just want to live a little bit longer. Their goals always seem tenable, but for the simple fact that they aren’t. This extends directly to the reader — ten issues in and we should be able to speak more definitively about whether Lucifer killed that judge, but we can’t. This issue explores the gulf created by what the characters want, and only sheepishly celebrates what they have. Continue reading

The Wicked + The Divine 7

Alternating Currents: The Wicked and The Divine 7, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing The Wicked + The Divine 7, originally released January 21st, 2015.

Drew: Religion is such a weird thing in comics. Both of the Big Two feature actual gods in their publishing line, which opens up a whole host of ontological questions — Did these gods play a role in the creation of the universe? How did they come to exist? — but these characters largely aren’t designed to answer religious questions. Just like Superman isn’t really about the existential questions raised by alien societies, the likes of Thor and Wonder Woman aren’t really about mythology — goddom is just another avenue to explain why your characters would have superpowers. It was easy for me to confuse The Wicked + The Divine with this type of story — neither is ultimately interested in the religious implications of having gods up and walking around — but as the series’ themes continue to solidify, it’s become ever more apparent that the powers don’t matter, either. “God” is just an exaggerated stand-in for “teen idol,” and given the way our society treats celebrities, it’s not that much of an exaggeration. Continue reading

The Wicked + The Divine 5

wicked and divine 5

Today, Suzanne and Spencer are discussing The Wicked + The Divine 5, originally released October 22nd, 2014.

Suzanne: Comic book solicitations bring out my cynical side. How can they so casually throw around phrases like “changed forever,” “new status quo” and “earth-shattering events”? Does every sentence need to end with an exclamation point?! I get that their purpose is for marketing and selling comics, really I do. But the end result is that readers expect instant gratification each month. Some of us lose sight of the bigger picture — story arcs need time to build dramatic tension and not every issue will (or should) end in a cliffhanger or a climactic moment. I’d go a step further and argue that smaller moments can be equally important to character and plot development.

The Wicked + The Divine 5 effortlessly combines shocking, “game changing” events with softer character reactions. The first four issues of this series laid the groundwork for this departure. Gillen and McKelvie gave readers hints of what these gods were capable of like Sakhmet’s fierce, primal aggression. But this issue invokes an awe and apprehension in readers that mirrors Laura’s fangirl reaction to The Pantheon. Continue reading

Wonder Woman 34

wonder woman 34Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Wonder Woman 34, originally released October 1st, 2014

“Hey mouse, say cheese.”
<Bart takes a picture of the Itchy robot, scrambling its circuits.>
“With a dry cool wit like that, I could be an action hero.”

Bart Simpson, Itchy & Scratchy Land

Patrick: It’s a good thing all of our action heroes have a team of writers working quietly behind them, because audiences hold this irrational expectation that heroic actions be punctuated by hilarious, insightful, precise quips. This is a trend that I’ve come to hate, largely because those pure little micro-tweets are so seldom earned. How do you put a character through the paces so thoroughly that acerbic wit feels natural tumbling out of their victorious mouths? They’re not poets or comedians or scholars — they’re warriors, but somehow they know to belch out a characteristically perfect “Yippy-kai-yay, motherfucker” or a “Welcome to Earth” or even a “get away from her, you bitch!” Thing is: those three examples all work because we’re there with Bruce Willis, Will Smith and Sigourney Weaver. It’s not just about having the dry cool wit, but waiting until the audience and the character need the release of such a quip, instead of handing them out willy-nilly. As Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang narrow in on their epic Wonder Woman conclusion, they’re cashing in on all those cheesy action movie beats. And they’ve earned every damn second — the result is unadulterated climax, satisfying on just about every level. Continue reading