I’m a homebody. I’d rather have a good dinner and quiet evening at my own place than any number of more exciting things—basically, everything other than a good dinner and quiet evening at my own place. But every now and then, even I see the appeal of putting on an A-list outfit, hitting a club, and just lose yourself in the music and crowd for a few hours. I say “lose yourself” specifically because that’s how these things often feel. Some people do it just for fun, but I suspect most people do it to push out the other things weighing on their minds.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned about the Pantheon, they have plenty to weigh on them. Faced with an existential crisis like no other, it takes the most epic of parties to let them forget, which Dionysus obliges. But even he admits this happiness is transitory, and at some point during the night, each of the gods returns to the thing preying on all of them:
Dionysus: “To make each other’s[–]”
Inanna: “[—]lives better. That’s all[–]”
Baal: “[–]we can do. The end[–]
Morrigan: “[–]is coming…”
They’re cut off before they can finish, as if their doom has already begun to swallow their words. So the party’s great and all, but it’s only a balm, not a cure for their troubles.
For some, the party has no effect whatsoever, suggesting an unhappiness too deeply rooted to be touched by the collective revelry. Wotan mutters ambiguously, “I don’t dance… I watch,” a reference to his inability to use his powers for himself, but also a hint at secret plans with Cassandra, another person unmoved by the excitement around her. She’s left out of the fun (“There’s no music! I repeat! No music! What are you all fucking dancing to?!”), as she often is, and even as she helps Laura stay on track, you detect a note of envy when she advises, “You bond with the gods. They’ll tell you things they’d never tell me.” Keep an eye on these two; each gives off a bad vibe and together they just might poop on everybody’s party.
Despite Dionysus’ efforts to keep the fun spinning, Laura does get a bit of detective work done, picking up bits and pieces from each of the gods. Only some of what she learns has a bearing on Luci’s death; the rest is revealing, character-wise, and if you’re the speculation-minded you might be able to pick out some possible motivations from them. Mostly, though, Gillen’s touching up the Pantheon members, revealing the vestiges of humanity remaining after their ascendance.
It does seem like Gillen’s been emphasizing the Pantheon’s human origins lately, in the process forcing you to ask the question of why some are chosen and others are not. Dionysus makes the second god (after Inanna) who used to be on Laura’s level, even witnessing her first big confrontation with Baph and Morrigan. So that’s weird, right?* At one point, Laura does attempt to figure out the pattern behind these occurrences, but nothing strikes out just yet. Just the same, keep in mind that the Recurrence itself is the big conspiracy, of which Luci’s death is only a part, albeit a critical one.
McKelvie does his usual good work here, but the script actually prevents him from much showing off, cutting the panel count in half thanks to intercutting with the quarter-time beat. It’s all mostly talking-heads anyway, so it’s not like McKelvie has much to show off with. The issue is really a spectacular showcase for Wilson, who conveys the overwhelming power of Dionysus’ party through a shower of liquid light and color, combining the trippiest high with the sensory overload of a rave at full thrust. That razzle-dazzle conceals a menace, however, as the darkened hues of the gods (along with their inky black eyes) tell you no amount of clubbing can stop the end from coming.
* Not to mention how they all seem to be from the U.K. What’s up with that? Narrative convenience?
– I have to say, if this is godhood, you can keep it. Once immortality is out of the picture, I’m like, mo’ power, mo’ problems.
– Cassandra mentions Orpheus and the Maenads at Dionysus’ party, referring to the demigod Orpheus whose music career was cut short by a roving band of Dionysus worshippers, who go so incensed that he didn’t join their revelry that they tore him apart. It’s a good tale to keep in mind if you’re the only one not indulging amongst a crowd of drunks.
– If Wotan’s not going to dance, he should at least make use of his Daft Punk outfit and DJ.
The issue offers plenty of material to sift through for clues, as long as you can keep your focus in the middle of a party to end all parties.