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Divinity

Review

Divinity

When Valiant Entertainment started publishing comics three plus years ago, it started by revitalizing the Valiant Comics properties it purchased, which gave the company its name. In that time, the publisher has produced various series all sharing the names and, in most cases, the premises of those old series. But DIVINITY is a first. It’s a completely new character and series set in the new Valiant Universe: the story of a deep space Russian cosmonaut with godlike powers who returns from space after decades away to a world that he does not recognize.

Abram Adams, the title character and protagonist of the book, is an orphan of African descent who was abandoned as an infant and raised in the USSR. His ethnicity is important to the story, as it sets him as even more of an outsider in the Soviet Union and pushes him to excel. Abram is athletic and intelligent, and when he is presented with the opportunity to take part in a deep space mission, he takes it. He is an optimal choice, both due to his natural abilities and because, as an orphan with no attachments, no one will miss him. Or so the USSR thinks. Adams has a secret girlfriend who he leaves behind, pregnant, when he goes into space.

"This is a great place to start reading Valiant’s comics if you never have, as the story stands strongly on its own while fitting into the bigger universe."

Flash forward from the 1960s to present day. Abram’s ship returns to Earth and crashes in the Australian outback. Leaving the pod, Abram now is invulnerable, able to manipulate reality, and boasts a host of other powers that make him much more than mortal. What immediately stands out from other tales of godlike super beings is that Abram doesn’t immediately go forth into the world, seeking to conquer or pacify it. Instead, he thinks. Then he makes the arid wasteland a place of lush vegetation. The natives, along with an American hiker named David Camp, begin to worship him, and he is given the name Divinity.

The series continues as both a conventional military force and Unity, the Valiant Universe’s superhero team, are unable to stop Abram. But he doesn’t attack or obliterate anyone. He fights back, yes, but by placing people into time loops or letting them speak to loved ones far away or gone. It would be easy for him, and by extension writer Matt Kindt, to simply turn this comic into one of those superhero slugfests. But instead it’s a much more thoughtful comic about a man in a world he doesn’t understand and one where the thing he most wanted, the woman and child he left behind, are out of reach.

When I first read the description of the series, I anticipated the thrust of the series being about culture shock, about a man born under Soviet rule finding a world where the Soviet Union lost the Cold War. Instead, it focuses on Abram trying to recapture his lost love, and eventually using his power to bring his lover and his daughter back from the dead. Again, an old chestnut that Kindt tosses on its head; we see that it’s love, not overwhelming force, which leads to the conclusion of Divinity’s reign in Australia.

While there is a lot of introspection in this book, that’s certainly not to say there isn’t any action. There’s plenty of that. After all, this is a superhero comic in many ways. Although Divinity handles the soldiers with ease and a minimum of violence, when Unity arrives, things pick up considerably. Their battle with Divinity is short, but their confrontation with his followers is intense, as they attempt not to harm civilians while closing the trap they have for Divinity.

If you’ve never read a Valiant comic before, the series does a good job of introducing the established characters of Unity, who headline a team series as well as individual comics for some of the members. The third chapter focuses on these characters, pulling the reader into worlds Divinity created to keep them from attacking him, and by seeing these realities gives the reader a glimpse into how these characters think.

Trevor Hairsine’s art is hyper-detailed and lush, with gorgeous backgrounds in Australia and cold, stark ones in Russia. But it’s his faces that really draw you in. The look on Abram’s face as he prepares to leave Eva is heartbreaking, and the look of supreme detachment he wears as Divinity for much of the time is at such a contrast to it that it is all the more striking when the pain returns at the end of the book. It’s also a challenge for an artist to get real expression out of a character who has no pupil or iris in hiseyes, just blank white crackling energy. And Hairsine is up to the task. He also draws excellent action sequences, with wonderful fluidity of motion and continuity between panels.

DIVINITY is the first volume of Abram’s adventures, but it will not be the last; a follow up has already been announced. This is a great place to start reading Valiant’s comics if you never have, as the story stands strongly on its own while fitting into the bigger universe. I would recommend it to both fans of superheroes and science fiction, especially those who enjoy Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov’s more philosophical works, as it explores deep themes of identity and loss while still playing with the big crazy sci-fi ideas. 

Reviewed by Matt Lazorwitz on August 4, 2015

Divinity
by Matt Kindt and Trevor Hairsine

  • Publication Date: July 27, 2015
  • Genres: Graphic Novel
  • : 112 pages
  • Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
  • ISBN-10: 1939346762
  • ISBN-13: 978-1939346766