Oh hi, you’re probably wondering what I’m doing posting a review for an old issue of a comic. You see, I’ve decided that it’s time to save all of my reviews from my time at PopOptiq from the website that is just a hollow shell of its former self. Y’see, when the website changed EICs a little more than a year ago, the new editor decided he wanted to make the website more like Buzzfeed and then proceeded to fire most of the staff. He then also claimed copyright ownership of our work.
Well, I know I never signed a contract with you or the previous EIC that said that was okay and my name is on the byline, so…
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Leila Del Duca and Mat Lopes (Backup art by Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson)
Letters by Clayton Cowles
Published by Image Comics
“I imagine death so much it feels more like a memory
When’s it going to get me?
In my sleep? Seven feet ahead of me?
If I see it comin’, do I run or do I let it be?”
That particular stanza is from ‘My Shot,’ one of the first songs heard in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical Hamilton. While it isn’t very “goth,” it feels like it could apply with this None More Goth issue of The Wicked + The Divineas the focus shifts to The Morrigan for issue 16.
In this issue, the art is done by Leila Del Duca with colors by Mat Lopes. Having seen Del Duca’s work on the Image book Shutter, it was a bit jarring to see her work look so soft and normal. Part of this was because of Lopes’ colors, deciding to take a more grey and softer edge compared to Shutter’s colorist Owen Gieni. The other part is that this is probably the most human story out of all the ones in the “Commercial Suicide” arc so far.
Framed by Baal delivering lunch to The Morrigan with Minerva begging to join him in typical nearly 13-year-old fashion, The Morrigan tells them the story of how Baphomet’s godhood is her doing. The reader then proceeds to meet them as teenagers, then called Marian and Cameron, and flashes several moments of them over the course of two years.
Through the course of their story, we learn that Marian and Cameron were basically big ol’ goth nerds that played Vampire: The Masquerade and painted miniatures. Cameron even has “Welcome to the Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance as his ringtone. However, we also learn that death seems to follow them like a specter. Cameron loses both of his parents in some sort of accident before he becomes a god. Marian was extremely sick when she was Minerva’s age, which probably gives her some of her insight of how she’s chooses to spend her life on “the edge of that pit.” Much like the last issue, it leaves open the question of do some members of the Pantheon just sort of know what they’re going to be before they’re chosen.
While there are some chances for Del Duca to delve into a bit of the weirdness she gets into in Shutter, like The Morrigan being ushered into the world on the backs of ravens and an avatar of Baphomet made entirely out of ketchup, the true strength of her art comes from how expressive she makes the characters. You could take away the word bubbles in so many of the scenes and still have an idea of what’s going on just based on how emotive the faces of the characters were. Mixed with Gillen writing an all-too relatable love story with sad goth nerds, this issue tugs on the heartstrings hard. By the time The Morrigan reaches her hand out to Cameron to offer him a place to be her king, those heartstrings might just be snapped in two entirely.
Of course, not satisfied with being the most None More Goth, Gillen also manages to sneak in one terrible pun, one question that further expands the ongoing mystery of the story, and one screaming cliffhanger. It’s like a perfect Gillen trifecta. Well, that and the call back to one of the first things Laura ever said about The Morrigan in the backup story. Perfect Gillen quadrangle?
While not as explosive and bombastic as previous issues in this arc, the penultimate issue in WicDiv’s “Commercial Suicide” arc succeeds perfectly at what it sets out to be: a tragic teenage goth love story. Between Gillen’s strong and melancholy writing and Del Duca and Lopes’ dark and expressive art, the story of how Marian and Cameron became The Morrigan and Baphomet is one that feels all too real in a surreal universe. Now the question is will Baph continue to run from death or will he let it be?