Waste of paper. No, that's not right. That's offensive to the artists as the illustrations were brilliant, but there may as well have been no words. SWaste of paper. No, that's not right. That's offensive to the artists as the illustrations were brilliant, but there may as well have been no words. Seriously. Very little happens. At least very little that makes sense or contributes to plot progression. Only the last few pages have any real meaning with a humdinger of a cliffhanger that leaves you with multiple questions and countless theories.
We meet Dionysus and Prince lookalike Innana. We find out some superfans believe if they kill a god then they'll absorb their powers, which isn't true for everyone except Baphomet - maybe. Ananke seems to be manipulating the gods into making themselves vulnerable enough for her to kill them. (Is she stealing their lives to maintain immortality? Or is she 'removing' troublemakers?) Ananke deliberately told Bap not to kill other gods because he alone could absorb their remaining time on Earth to extend his own life, and of course, what does Bap do? He's on Ananke's to-kill list after he takes Innana's life. Baphomet's symbolic upside down crucifixion of Innana was interesting. That and Innana's forgiving Baphomet and warning him that stealing his life force will just prolong Bap's misery. It's also hinted that Bap is the one behind framing Lucifer for the judge's death. And finally our naive protagonist Laura is bumped off by Ananke after she turns her into Persephone.
Superfan Laura being murdered during the afterglow of becoming a god came as a shocking cliffhanger. Although I'm not sure I believe she's truly gone due to the god she became. Ananke could've killed her when she was still human, so why didn't she? Persephone travels between two worlds and is separated from her husband in the Underworld and reunited with her mother every six months. Might this have something to do with it?
Taking Laura's parents' lives may have been a tactical move. Perhaps Laura's mother would take on the role of Persephone's mother Demeter. Upset at the loss of her daughter to Hades for half the year, Demeter brings on winter by withdrawing her power over vegetation growth allowing crops to wither and winter to take hold. Laura's mother may not have powers but she could turn the world against the gods after watching Ananke murder her innocent daughter.
We're told only twelve gods are remade. Cassandra turns out to be the twelfth, Urdr, the Norse goddess of fate and a seer of past, present and future as part of the trio of Norns. Notice Cassandra's name is that of the Greek prophetess cursed by Apollo to never be believed. Well, that happens here, too.
Laura is the thirteenth god. (How's that possible?) Being Persephone may explain why her presence is so readily accepted by the gods of the Underworld in Baphomet and The Morrigan since she's married to Hades, by the sky gods Baal and Amaterasu as she's the daughter of Zeus, the love and fertility god Innana as Persephone is also the daughter of harvest goddess Demeter, and finally Dionysus since she's his mother (and Zeus is his father, if you're wondering. Incest, yo!)
The Faust Act didn't exactly blow me away. I'm still frustrated with these characters. They feel shallow and superfluous. Except for Lucifer and she's dead. I miss her. Cassandra feels like Luci-lite and I'm not digging her angst. And Laura's desperation is off-putting.
Having the two characters with the most stage time whacked by the same person in the same way is repellent and repetitive. Whether you loved them or hated them, Lucifer and Laura were our main connections to this universe. By seeing the world through their eyes we grew attached to them. Who's left for us to care about?
A British setting (loved seeing the Excel Centre hosting Fantheon as they hosted fan event LonCon3 last year which I attended), a mixed race protagonist, plenty of non-stereotypical GLBT and non-white characters, vibrant illustrations and a fascinating mythology are all things I admire in the W+D universe. However, a jumpy narrative, the lack of plot progression and meaningful dialogue is difficult to tolerate.
Twelve gods, I think, were too many to adequately develop. It feels as if they're thrown into scenes or forced to converse with Laura just because they've had very little stage time and the audience hasn't had a chance to get to know them yet. This has slowed the pace of the story to plodding (I was so bored reading this) and plot threads have been too quickly resolved (who and why were snipers shooting at the gods?) which was anticlimactic or forgotten until the closing act (Laura's obvious god ability). The Faust Act did a lot more in 144 pages than Fandemonium did in 166.
Reviews of the next few issues of the comic aren't reassuring. It seems plot is completely absent in favour of telling back stories. If one of those is Ananke's then that might be helpful. Should my library purchase the third volume, I may skim it. The Wicked + The Divine's mythology is compelling but I'm not willing to waste money on it....more
What kind of teenager are you that you don't have Class A drugs to hand? Hmm? Has The Daily Mail been lying to me? - Lucifer
Every 90 years twelve god
What kind of teenager are you that you don't have Class A drugs to hand? Hmm? Has The Daily Mail been lying to me? - Lucifer
Every 90 years twelve gods from multiple pantheons are reincarnated in young people to live for two years. The gods reincarnated are different each time and don't necessarily live out the full two years, as the opening pages can attest with only four gods left at the end of the last cycle in 1923, skulls perched in the empty seats. Ananke is their guardian, goddess of fate, necessity and destiny. She's their protector, but also their judge, jury and, if necessary, their executioner.
Wicked and divine these characters are not. Irritating, confusing, frustrating - definitely. Intriguing personalities are few and far between despite the range of sexualities, people of colour and genders (e.g. trans, goddesses reincarnated in male form and vice versa). Lucifer, or Luci to her friends, was witty and sarcastic and the only character of interest. I loved it when she took out the snipers. That was awesome. Annie Lennox is famous for her androgenous style with white blonde hair and matching white suit and I'm guessing Lucifer's look is based on her. Seeing Luci's downfall kind of kills any enthusiasm to read the next volume. However, the cliffhanger implies drama queen Laura is Tara, or somehow connected to Luci. This might prove entertaining, though I doubt it.
The Wicked + The Divine is certainly culturally apt. Now is the perfect time to be reincarnated if worship is required for the gods to feed. Celebrity culture is in its prime. Live fast, die young rockstars. Sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. (It's odd and kind of icky that they can induce orgasms en masse - I wouldn't want to be on clean-up duty after one of their concerts.) But in an age of technology Ananke's lethal punishment is understandable. PR is everything. None of the gods can be seen to be too powerful, dangerous or out of control. Posing a possible threat to humans would incite war and fans would immediately disappear, leaving the gods vulnerable. However, to conform to a watered down version of their real selves is contrary to their nature, but necessary for survival.
Together with their short lifespan, I can understand why not all of the gods are happy. They have no purpose in their lives other than to entertain humans. A hollow existence. With their abilities you'd think governments and media groups the world over would be tripping over themselves to hire them. The devil makes work for idle hands -no wait, the devil's dead. Never mind.
Antonia Thomas as Alisha in Misfits
I appreciated the British setting in culturally diverse London, the mixed race (like me) protagonist Laura who reminded me of Misfits' Antonia Thomas, the mythological figures and of course the vibrant illustrations.
But I'm not sure why Rihanna gets to be a god in the form of Sakhmet (Egyptian mythology, warrior goddess depicted as a lioness).
Baal reminds me of a self-obsessed Puff Daddy, or whatever he calls himself these days.
Woden's fashion sense is Tron-inspired. (Norse mythology - also known as Odin.)
Baphomet is the dark-haired, shirtless rebel in a leather jacket and sunglasses.
Minerva is a 12-year-old female Elton John lookalike. (Roman mythology, virgin goddess of art, craft, wisdom and magic.)
A scene that utterly confounded me was the introduction of Baphomet and the various personas of Celtic goddess queen of death The Morrigan - Gentle Annie (bald), BadB (red-haired) and the black-haired default. They had an extremely cringe-worthy argument for no apparent reason.
The Wicked + The Divine will soon be adapted for TV by Universal Television, although I'm not sure this is wise when the graphic novel series is still in its infancy with not much material to be starting with. The graphic novels may well become novelizations of the show. As it's not being made by HBO, I won't be surprised if the language and sexual aspects are sanitized, though I hope the demographic diversity remains.
As The Faust Act is the first volume and as yet hasn't finished it's introductions of all the gods, I should probably give the series another chance so I've reserved the second volume at the library. Hopefully the mystery of who framed Luci will be solved and maybe the gods will become a bit more compelling because right now they're the opposite.
Michael Sheen (Masters of Sex) did a brilliant job in voicing the title role of Oedipus in what I found to be an 'easier' to understand translation byMichael Sheen (Masters of Sex) did a brilliant job in voicing the title role of Oedipus in what I found to be an 'easier' to understand translation by Duncan Steen for the full cast audio.
I'm glad I've finally read the famous, fabulously sensational story of incest and patricide about the man who kills his father and marries his mother, after encountering Freud's derivative Oedipus Complex in psychology class a decade ago.
Sophocles showcases the limitations of prophecy in stating the destination without providing details of the journey, and therefore a way to avoid the outcome. Had Oedipus's father not been told of the prophecy, would Oedipus have still fulfilled it? Laius would never have ordered his son to be ripped from his mother and left to die on a hillside had he not not known of the prophecy; and Oedipus would've grown up knowing his parents whereupon the Westermarck effect would come into play. So, is the Delphic oracle at fault here? Should he take some modicum of responsibility for Oedipus's crimes by putting him on the path to committing them? Every cause has an effect and every effect, a cause.
Coincidence or fate? Again, if Oedipus hadn't been informed of the prophecy he wouldn't have met his real father on that crossroads, but as soon as he did, his fate was sealed.
I liked the symbolism of the action at the three-way crossroads. King Laius and his entourage tried to push Oedipus off the road which resulted in a skirmish to the death. Oedipus prevailed by killing all but one of his attackers who escaped. However, the deaths were reported as a robbery homicide - to save face, perhaps? Obviously the king wasn't well guarded if one man could slay him and all of his men. If Oedipus is right and the king's men instigated the incident, was killing them self-defence? Oedipus is presented as an honest and honorable king who takes great pride in his good character. I doubt he'd lower himself to robbery when outnumbered and afterwards feel no guilt over his 'youthful misdeed' when his latter guilt cripples him.
Free will only applies to the control of one's own actions and the ability to influence that of others'. Oedipus is unable to exert enough control over his life to make informed decisions when he'd been lied to about his identity so it's difficult to blame him for crimes he'd committed unwittingly. Rather than a heinous criminal, Oedipus is painted as a pitiable figure. Self-inflicted punishment is meted out instead of the judgement and execution of societal justice, because no can hurt you more than yourself. Self-condemnation, self-mutilation and self-banishment from his home is punishment enough.
Ignorance and an inability to look beyond the superficial is expressed as a disadvantage of the ability to see, while blindness confers insight into the truth of things with a painfully sharp clarity. Oedipus mocks Tiresias for his blindness, claiming it hinders his ability to see the truth. Tiresias hits back, mocking Oedipus with a statement representing the exact opposite. Yet Oedipus, upon realising the truth of his actions, dashes out his own eyes in anguished horror after witnessing the dead swinging body of his shamed wife and mother, his psychological pain seemingly blotting out the physical.
I completely understand why this is a beloved classic. I'm sure I could get more out of it with each listen or read. I have only one complaint: I didn't really understand the Chorus. On the audio, many people spoke those words in unison and I thought this obscured the pronunciation, however, I did seek out a free ebook edition online to re-read those parts and they still made little sense to me.
Bestiality. Kidnapping. Mugging. Ye olde carjacking. Burglary. Assault. Murder. Female paedophiles. Incest. Male rape. Adultery. Animal cruelty. SeriaBestiality. Kidnapping. Mugging. Ye olde carjacking. Burglary. Assault. Murder. Female paedophiles. Incest. Male rape. Adultery. Animal cruelty. Serial killers in the making. Poisonings. Homosexual priest gangbangs. Shapeshifting. Gods and goddesses. The Seven Deadly Sins. Evil mother-in-laws. Drama. Comedy. Tragedy. Adventure. Romance. Horror. Urban legends. Stories within stories. Inspiration for that Hannibal episode where a person was sewn into a dead horse's belly.
What doesn't The Golden Ass have?
At this point I should probably be comparing The Golden Ass to the brutality shown in Game of Thrones, only this is much less about political maneuvering and Machiavellian plotting, but still, they're both not for the faint of heart. The Golden Ass is one of the first, or the first, human-to-animal transformation stories that run in the same vein as Disney's Brother Bear and The Emperor's New Groove.
With all of the beatings Lucius received as a helpless slave in donkey form, carrying loads too heavy for his four-legged form, having his fur set on fire, never allowed rest when he most needs it and forced to continue on or have his feet tied together to be hurled off a cliff - because that's what they did to lame animals - I feel like I need to donate to The Donkey Sanctuary.
For a 1,900 year old novel, you realise that nothing's really changed in that time, socially speaking.
Sex scenes are surprisingly good. There's no hesitation. No repressed sexuality. No self-esteem issues. And all manner of positions are attempted.
'The only redeeming feature of this catastrophic transformation was that my natural endowment had grown too.'
Typical man. Turned into a donkey and he's impressed with the increase in the size of his manhood.
Yelling 'FIRE!' when being burgled and in need of help:
'Then, leaving him there fatally crucified, he climbed to the roof of his hovel and shouted at the top of his voice to summon the neighbours; calling each one by name he gave out that his house had suddenly caught fire, reminding them that this involved the safety of them all. So everybody, frightened by the danger next door, came running in alarm to help.'
Well, it's been proven. Video games don't make kids violent, a lack of video games does. Imagination is a dangerous thing. So many inventive ways to torture and kill, to humiliate and degrade. The devil makes work for idle hands, as they say. So parents, quickly stuff a Playstation controller into your little one's hands before they turn their minds to dastardly deeds.
Certain aspects of The Golden Ass really do get you thinking about contentious issues.
How do you define bestiality? Lucius is a man turned into a donkey. When it's proposed that he'll be allowed his choice of horses with which to procreate - is that bestiality? Is Lucius's fornication as an ass with a human woman bestiality? Does the fact that he has a human mind inside an animal body change the status of the sexual relationship?
Surprisingly, Apuleius doesn't deliver the stereotype paedophile. A lusty married woman sets her sights on her stepson. Oddly this is labelled incest though there appears to be no blood connection. And it's the same with rape. A cuckolded husband rapes his adulterous wife's toyboy lover as punishment. Perhaps male paedophiles and rapists were stereotypes even 2,000 years ago.
The feminist in me feels compelled to point out the unbalanced female representation. Many women were demonised as witches who pee on men's faces, who steal body parts from the dead, who are complicit in evil deeds, who are nymphomaniacs, adulterers, paedophiles, vain and jealous grudge-holding goddesses. Psyche (myth), Photis (Lucius's servant lover) and Byrrhena (Lucius's aunt) are the only exceptions.
The Abduction of Psyche by William-Adolphe Bouguereau
During Lucius's journey, the stories he hears are mostly told at the dinner table, around the fire, as a distraction on a long journey, or as a comfort to distraught kidnap victims. Understandably storytelling was their main form of entertainment. Well, that and gossip, which was free or you provided a meal for the teller. I really enjoyed the mythical telling of Psyche and Cupid.
Each of the 11 'books' are self-contained chapters of about 20 pages with a spoiler-y summary of what's to come at the beginning, so it was easy to dip in and out. I wasn't particularly happy with the ending, in fact I skimmed and skipped around at that point. I can understand Lucius's gratefulness at the chance to become human again, and I'm aware of that ancient tradition of 'a life saved, is a life owed' [see Azeem of 1991's Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves], but I have an issue with blind faith. Lucius walks away from his previous life to devote himself and his future to worshipping his rescuer. That's just weird, from my 21st century non-religious perspective.
The translation very much played a part in my enjoyment of this ancient novel. I carefully researched which was right for me. I chose the Kenney edition as it seemed the least stilted of those available, and I'm glad I made that choice.
I never thought I'd enjoy a 2,000 year old novel, but I did. And you might, too.