Friday, February 13, 2015

Review - Divinity #1


"We have a rocket and a plan that will take you farther than anyone has ever gone."

The political brinksmanship that comes with being a global superpower is certainly expected; in fact, it's often embraced by those superpowers. For every treaty or trade agreement signed, there's backroom deals and conversations where one country still demands dominance over the other. The lengths a country will go to achieve such dominance always makes for good entertainment, much of which culminated between the US and Russia during the Cold War. In Divinity #1 from Valiant Entertainment, that competition is on full display with potentially divine consequences. The issue is written by Matt Kindt, penciled by Trevor Hairsine, inked by Ryan Winn, colored by David Baron and lettered by Dave Lanphear.

At the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union – determined to win the Space Race at any cost – green lit a dangerously advanced mission. They sent a man farther into the cosmos than anyone has gone before or since. Lost in the stars, he encountered something unknown. Something that…changed him. Long thought lost and erased from the history books, he has suddenly returned, crash-landing in the Australian Outback. The few that have been able to reach him believe him to be a deity – one who turned the scorched desert into a lush oasis. They say he can bend matter, space and even time to his will. Earth is about to meet a new god. And he’s a communist.

Setting Divinity #1 largely against the backdrop of Russia during the Cold War space race is brilliant. It's not the only setting for the book, but it affords Kindt with the opportunity to make a very compelling case for sending Abram Adams to the reaches of space. It's partially in the interest of science, but it draws heavily upon the patriotic hubris that was pervasive throughout much of the latter half of the 20th century. Kindt juxtaposes Abram against David Camp, who is something more of a free radical in many ways, content to thrive on the cliffs of the Australian outback. The use of a book as a metaphor for the two meeting is extremely effective indeed, as Kindt draws upon the notion of closing a book to make pages meet in an effort to bring the two together.

Emptying the gutters allows the reader to focus on Hairsine's cold illustrations. The book's atmosphere is one that feels detached and Hairsine uses an approach that's equally as distant. That sense of isolation is exacerbated by the stern expressions sported by many of the characters; expressions that sort of cast a pall over the entirety of the book. There's one page that illustrates Abram's ascent into space that exploits deep-seeded fears of the unknown, made even more frightening by the now antiquated look of the spaceship and Abram's spacesuit. Winn's inks are rich, accenting certain aspects of Hairsine's work, while Baron's colors are rich and feel somewhat stodgy, which fits within the tone of how serious the space race was to the Russians (and Americans).

Divinity #1 presents a lot of background in the first issue, most of which is focused on the two main characters. The themes that the series can explore in the remaining three issues looks to be extraordinarily deep and political in many ways, making a lot of that set-up essential. Kindt's presentation of Abram and David on a collision course dictated by fate is masterfully presented and speaks to a much grander ambition of the series as a whole. Hairsine's illustrations capitalize on the Cold War tensions by showcasing a sentiment of fear, uncertainty and isolation amongst the characters. Divinity #1 is aiming very high when it comes to tone and the first issue offers a very methodically paced issue that will likely ramp up sooner than later.

Divinity #1 is in stores now.

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