“Life goes on, until it doesn’t.”
There’s a strange calmness that accompanies the conclusion of WicDiv. At first you go in, holding your breath, ready for whatever’s awaiting our cast 40 years after the previous issue. And then slowly but surely, the creative team of Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson and Clayton Cowles reintroduce all the characters and give us a sense of where they’re at. It’s a slow, step by step process. 1-2-3-4.
Laura’s in a much different place now, having gotten to live, much like the others. They’ve all changed, they’ve all evolved, they’re no longer the teenagers we once met. And so we get one last moment to spend with these people. These people we’ve followed for so long and through so much. And fittingly, it’s at a funeral. The book that began with death, the book that’s so much about death and dealing with that, finally concludes in a funeral. It gives us all of us a time to mourn, in a sense, the passing of the person involved and just the book in general.
But it’s not necessarily depressing. It’s just that moment of parting. As you come to full understanding of what has been accomplished, what has truly been achieved and how it’s finally the inevitable time and you’ve made your peace with that. It’s okay. So WicDiv asks us to take a look at the beginnings and how far we’ve come since, at the journey itself, rather than the inevitable end. From Aruna, who once struggled to perform at the level she hoped, becoming the performer she wanted to Zahid’s journey of self-discovery, there’s progressions here. There’s stories here. Some we’ve seen, many we have not. So many stories. So much growth, change, evolution, which could not have been, would not have been, if the cast succumbed to the false myth of divinity. People, really. Real people over some made-up narrative and role to inhabit. That’s what we get here, in all their grayingly human and mortal beauty. Gods do not have will, they cannot create or truly affect change. They are what we think they are. But people? They’re beyond that. They’re so much more. They have a choice. They get to be whoever they want to be. They get to live. And so they did.
Thus by the time we arrive at the inevitable end, there’s a calmness, a peaceful silence that falls over the book. This is the band separating, this is the end, but what does that mean, really? The book, with Laura looking straight at us, addresses the reader and speaks to us. And in that same old rhythmic 4-beat pattern, Laura performs one more miracle. She tells us the truth, the most real thing that can be said and she snaps her fingers, giving way to the future. And the future? It’s a blank page. It’s whatever you want it to be. It’s whatever you can imagine. It’s whatever your dreams, your hopes, your nightmares, your messages may be. Do with it what you will. For a book about creators and art, about a fan and a critic becoming creators and artists themselves, to say that? That’s powerful. That hits. And it really lands.
Laura asks us to look past the ink and remember that it was written. What you’re seeing is just one vision. One narrative. One story. That isn’t all there is. You don’t have to fit with that design. Yours can be any design. And it’s why Laura, the veteran creator, at the end of it all, snaps her fingers and grants us the blank pages, inviting us to create. Asking us to be like her, but not make her errors. To not mess up the way she did. To take her lessons, her losses and make them our victories. She gives us those blank pages so that we may try and forge our journeys, whatever they may be, with our own will, with our own ideas and experiences. It’s a very Anti-Ananke message and a fitting one to conclude on, perfectly summing up this five year voyage in the Vertigo spirit, which is what WicDiv has been.
There’s a lot of Grant Morrison there, reminiscent of his sort of endings, but particularly and most specifically The Invisibles and the experience of rereading WicDiv, much like The Invisibles, with that first beat of “and so we return,” should prove most interesting, as now it’s one large design that’s complete at last. But that aside, it’s a message incredibly true to the creative team. It’s, interestingly, evocative of Gillen’s own ending for Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt, but if that was specific to superhero fiction, this is broader. It goes beyond that to get at all of art itself. Embrace the potential, wonder and joy of the blank page, because that’s your real estate, that’s your domain of creation, it’s where the magic, the real magic happens. It’s where miracles occur. Now, show us your own miracles won’t you, Gillen, McKelvie, Wilson and Cowles ask, at the end of their own display, their own great performance and tour.
But past the readers who the book is engaging with, that holds true for the creative team itself on some level. McKelvie will be moving onto writing things, perhaps involving mechas and sci-fi, which is, again, a blank page. Who knows what’s coming from that?! Gillen will continue onward to put out more Die, more Once and Future and more impossible-to-guess work which we’ll just have to watch for. Wilson will go onto color more unimaginably gorgeous books and Cowles will continue to surprise as he does all-star work on the industry’s top books as letterer extraordinaire.
The future? It’s uncertain. But it’s being made now. It’s being made today. And it isn’t easy. There are no shortcuts — that’s among the big lessons of WicDiv. You have to work at it. Consistently. But if you can do that, if you can stand your ground and stick with it, the blank page may hold something for you. Imagine not what is, but what could be. And even if this sentence is up, another begins. One cycle concludes, giving way to the next. The past perishes so that the future may be forged. And it’s time we forged it.
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