Minor spoilers, maybe?
Yesterday, The Wicked + The Divine #1 came out— it’s the new book by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, the creative team behind Young Avengers and Phonogram, and it’s fantastic. A cool concept, sharp dialogue, and some of the best character design in the biz come together in a beautiful book that’s a huge pleasure to read. McKelvie’s art pops as usual, aided by amazing colouring by Matthew Wilson.
Anyways, after finishing the first issue I sort of obsessed with figuring out which gods correspond to which icon in this diagram, and here’s my wanton speculation. (It’s admittedly probably a futile effort that will be revealed to me if I just wait a month, but whatever.)
We’ve seen Amaterasu, Luci, and Sakhmet in the first issue, and their symbols are more or less no-brainers. Interesting to note is that Amaterasu occupies the same space as Susanoo’s icon from the previous generation, and, as siblings, perhaps this suggests that there’s a 1-1 correspondence for mythological regions for each generation. That’s probably a bit of a stretch though.
Mentioned in interviews but not in this issue are Minerva and Morrigan, whose symbols are also fairly clear. Morrigan, a Celtic goddess, is often symbolized by crows, and she covers #3 with fairly similar makeup. I suspect that the god covering #4 might be Minerva— in the trailer comic he had a sleeve that slightly reminds me of Greek pottery (if only I could see the top of that column!) Since Laura fails to mention either of them, it’d also make sense for Morrigan and Minerva to work in musical genres dissimilar to the others, and the god of #4 looks way too stern for pop music.
The gods Laura mentions in #1 include Inanna— several results in Google tell me that her symbol is the eight pointed star, so she’s included here— Baal, and possibly Tara. Baal could possibly be the ram head at 10 o’clock, but he’s usually associated with heifers, so I didn’t want to jump the gun. Tara doesn’t fit any of these symbols at all, and she’s mentioned with such derision by Laura that I suspect that she isn’t a real god at all. I also don’t think Gillen would want to offend any Tibetan Buddhists with that.
On the last two spots: the masks could be Dionysus— IIRC, differentiating Greek/Roman mythology is alright since there’s such a generation gap. The winged helmet could be something from Norse mythology— maybe Odin, or someone— but the idea of Norse helmets having wings was chiefly a 19th-century invention.
Wow I’m a mythology nerd haha
Heimdall would be awesome … But I have to admit: Winged Helmets remind me of the Valkyries in Wagners Operas: And Odin (or Wodan) is somehow the father of them so maybe … I think he is a very interesting god, because of his knowledge and magic, he is also the god who wanders the earth and is known by many names (at least in the so called Snorra Edda). I think he would be an interesting choice for a “pop-god”.
i hadn’t thought of minerva being the guy from #4 but i love it a lot. we already have luci as lucifer, a traditionally masculine figure, so having minerva be a guy(?) isn’t out of the ballpark at all.
also placing my bets on the “tara” laura speaks of being a fake. gillen answered an ask a few days ago where he talked about not including hindu figures because he knew hinduism was an actual living and breathing religion, and i’m sure he knows the same for buddhism. i’d wager whoever “tara” is happens to be someone looking for their fifteen minutes of fame by faking their place in it (if so i’m very curious to see where gillen would be going with all the talk of cultural appropriation- cassandra already pointed out in #1 that there’s something a bit skeevy with amaterasu being a white girl).
can we assume by three of the slots being fake here they they’re places yet to be filled, or otherwise gods who haven’t shown themselves yet?
Gillen’s said that only nine of the twelve gods have reincarnated, so I assume that the three blank spots will be filled later on in the story as they emerge. Also, if Tara isn’t a fake god, she could also be an ordinary human pop star going by a mononym.
EXTREME SPOILER ALERT FOR THE WICKED + THE DIVINE #2:
I updated my diagram based on the information we gleam from issue 2 (which blew me away, especially with Luci’s Magical God transformation sequence).
First of all the biggie: wow, Baphomet is terrifying. We’re a little heavy on hell gods this generation, don’t you think? It’s a shame about the Morrigan since I really like her character design. RIP.
Some of my speculation is denied: the black god of #4 is Baal, and in retrospect, I was a little too focused on the Canaanite Ba’al (associated with heifers) and didn’t look closely enough at the Carthaginian Ba’al-hamon. He’s often depicted with Ram’s horns, and if it’s Carthage, that explains the Greco-Roman influences in his tattoos. I’ve adjusted the diagram accordingly.
On the other hand, my speculation that the winged helmet is Odin is confirmed, in a way: instead of the Norse god, though, it’s the germanic Woden, though. The winged helmet thing is still a bit of a recent invention, but it makes more sense if it’s Woden rather than Odin— Woden and Hermes/Mercury (the original winged helmet god) were closely associated/conflated, and Woden was consequently associated with the headgear. Either way: he sounds gross: “cheerily racist army of ethnic mono-cultured valkyrie fuck buddies”? Ew.
There’s just one slot left, and one God mentioned left: Tara. I still haven’t added her to the diagram, because I still think there’s something tricky going on here. Even if there are a million gods among many cultures named Tara, I can’t find one that would be appropriate for the masks. Tara is typically a feminine name, and, like most goddesses, all the Taras I’ve found stick to the usual life/sky/abundance/etc. domains. Since masks play with identity/falsehood/duality/drama, my new theory is that Tara may not be “Tara”, but rather a trickster god(dess) under an assumed name. Dionysus is still a good choice, since he’s a known shapeshifter and is more explicitly associated with these masks than any other.
One final note: with the revelation of Baphomet, my 1-1 pantheon theory still sort of holds. Susanoo’s place was taken by Amaterasu, and Baphomet takes the place of the blonde goddess of the previous generation, who I speculate to be Lilith. There aren’t very many other gods associated with owls, and Athena/Minerva’s clearly out.