When I woke up the morning after this year’s VMAs, I saw that Miley Cyrus surprise released her crazy new glitter-tastic collaboration album that she had been working on with Wayne Coyne. It was the kind of surprise that faded quickly. “Of course she drops it after she hosts the VMAs.” Still, I hastily played the first song “Dooo it!”
I’m not talking much on her Dead Petz here, because… I just don’t know.
Miley’s been accused of commercial suicide ever since “Can’t Be Tamed,” but she clearly doesn't care. I think it’s safe to say that her actions at the VMAs, or this album, won’t kill her career. I only bring it up because “Commercial Suicide” happens to be the title of both the thirteenth issue and the whole third arc of The Wicked and The Divine.
In The Wicked and The Divine, every 90 years there comes an event called the Recurrence in which a pantheon of 12 gods and goddesses are born from teenagers to inspire the populace. This modern day Recurrence boasts a pantheon of pop stars, who inspire through concerts, raves, festivals, and the like. The catch? They will die two years after they are chosen. Serious buzzkill, right?
The featured gods and goddesses are pulled from all corners of ancient mythology, including Greek (Dionysus), Shinto (Amaterasu), and even the Devil herself (Lucifer). They form a clique of celebrity icons who fight, screw, and gossip just like our celebrity icons! The only difference is that they fight with deadly neon magic and “miracles,” instead of tweets and interview quotes. This clique includes every god and goddess except for one.
Tara, “F@$%ing Tara,” as she is commonly referred to by her divine peers, finally makes her long awaited debut in this issue (WicDiv #13). It’s a doozy.*
The Wicked and The Divine is very much about modern music culture, but it’s important to note that none of the characters actually make or play music! They just get up on stage and do “it.” “It” gathers crowds. “It” creates festivals, like Ragnarock. “It” becomes everything to everyone it inspires, and many fans, Laura Wilson included, are willing to risk life and limb to experience “it.”
Tara hates “it.” Previous issues paint a picture of a goddess who hides from the spotlight, only because she knows that evading attention only attracts more (#F@$%ing Tara). In reality she was avoiding the spotlight for her own sanity, not this presumed vanity. Every god hates something, but she’s the only one that hates “it”.
Tara was always wary of those who adored her, even before she was made into a goddess. She was born beautiful, and she always knew because no one would let her forget. She was a real “it” girl who really only ever wanted to be herself. Sadly, the only way she felt she could do that was by hiding, often behind a mask. She kept that mask when she became divine.
When she hid, she wrote songs, and as a human she shared them with strangers in small bars while wearing her mask. Once she was given her divine stage, where she was promised an opportunity to share her originals, no one wanted to hear them. No one wanted to hear her. As soon as she stops doing “it,” she is booed, pelted with trash, and called a selfish bitch by her backup dancers. Those who claimed to love her didn’t know her at all. They only wanted “it." So she hid, god forbid.
Towards the end of the issue, Tara reads a collection of tweets directed at her, and it is one of the most horrifying things I’ve ever laid eyes on in a comic book. I don’t make that statement lightly. I made myself read every one. The worst part? They’re not very unlike real tweets about Miley, or any other female artist that’s recently put themselves out there, daring to defy expectations of how they should express themselves. Lauren Mayberry, CHVRCHES frontwoman and all-around badass, is another name who comes to mind with her recent war against 4-chan trolls and anonymous internet misogyny.
I like Miley Cyrus, but I don’t think I like Miley Cyrus and the Dead Petz. However, I like that she is willing to do something this crazy, especially in the face of the kind of bile that people can spew in anonymity without thinking. The kind that Miley has seen, and I imagine will continue to see, because she can’t stop. She won’t stop.
I guess some people take it better than others. I don’t think I would take it very well either, Tara.
The Wicked and The Divine is published by Image Comics. It is written Kieron Gillen artist Jamie McKelvie. It is coloured by Matt Wilson and lettered by Clayton Cowles. Issue #13 is illustrated by guest artist Tula Lotay, whose work can also be found on www.tulalotay.com or in the Image series Supreme: Blue Rose.
*Author’s note: If there were ever a stand-alone issue of WicDiv to date, it’s this one, however I encourage all who are interested to start from the beginning. Gillen’s story is full of twists and turns, which I have done my best not to spoil here, and the art from McKelvie and Wilson is so good that it I think it best to have your first WicDiv experience be one that they brought to life. Not that the guest artists featured in the “Commercial Suicide” arc haven’t been fantastic (they’ve been divine, really), but it’s like listening to a cover of a song before you heard the original. Sometimes it happens, though, and that’s OK. Whichever way you choose, enjoy!