Interesting title for this volume, no? One would think that it’d be a particularly apt title since it sees half of the title’s creative team, artist Jamie McKelvie, absent for the majority of it. He only contributes a few pages of original art here, but the man had a good excuse -- McKelvie was working on the third volume of “Phonogram” (at last!) during the time these issues were being published. Working in this title’s favor is the fact that it’s still written by Kieron Gillen, and he and McKelvie are well-connected enough to secure a Murderer’s Row of talent to fill in for the artist here: Kate Brown, Tula Lotay, Stephanie Hans, Leila Del Luca, and Brandon Graham all contribute here and their efforts are nothing less than captivating. I almost wish McKelvie would take another hiatus (for another volume of “Phonogram,” natch) after seeing the work his peers offer up.
(Oh, and as noted on the back cover, Chip Zdarsky does draw one percent of this volume as well. All I’ll say is that the “The Lick-ed + The Divine” porn parody from “Sex Criminals” is now canon after a fashion here…)
Yet either by nature of the fact that half of the artistic team is missing here or by Gillen’s design, the story only advances incrementally. Much of it is spent picking up on the immediate fallout from Innana’s death and the hunt for his assumed killer, Baphomet. The narrative twists and turns to offer a deeper look at all of the book’s characters, with the information offered about Odin and Ananke coming off as particularly revelatory. (It also helps that their issue is a stunning work of re-purposing as McKelvie’s art from previous issues is composited in different ways to tell an entirely new story.) Even if the story does chase its own tail, the closer look at the cast dos prove to be pretty engaging in and of itself. The fact that Gillen hasn’t lost a step with writing bitingly funny dialogue -- along with a meat-based pun that will cause you physical pain if it catches you unawares -- contributes a lot to making this volume a worthy follow-up to the previous two. Bonus points for a cliffhanger that promises a game-changing development as one of the gods prepares to make good on their gimmick for emerging from the underworld.