Review - Divinity III: Stalinverse #1 (@ValiantComics)

"Death to any who would threaten the motherland."

Heroes are supposed to protect the world from the villains. Generally, those heroes align for a common sense of good, but what if that common sense is a different version of "good?" In Divinity III: Stalinverse #1 from Valiant Entertainment, Russia proves that even it has ideals it believe are worth fighting for. The issue is written by Matt Kindt, penciled by Trevor Hairsine, inked by Ryan Winn, colored by David Barron and lettered by Dave Lanphear.

Earth has a new god. The world you know is gone. Welcome to the Stalinverse, comrade.

Kindt opens the issue in a way that's both jarring to the reader and effective in highlighting the new stakes in an alt-universe within the larger Valiant Universe. In this version, Bloodshot, X-O Manowar, Shadowman and others all serve Russia and its interests in a way that Kindt capitalizes on that's pretty terrifying. The concept of superheroes exceeding any checks on their powers certainly isn't new, but Kindt's take on it is even more dire in that the superheroes are all united for the same cause. Kindt essentially breaks the issue up into smaller sub-stories focusing on the aforementioned characters and their introductions are somewhat glossed over in exchange for acts of intimidation and terror. The dialogue feels a little jumpy at times because of this, but Kindt does ground the dialogue in one line that both confirms their vision and further unifies the story.

Hairsine's pencils are clean throughout the issue and he does interesting perspectives where various parts of the characters are shown in action. The main characters all bear looks that make them easily recognizable as Hairsine is very familiar with the Valiant Universe at this point. The empty gutters allow each panel to stand out on its own, providing Hairsine a great means of focusing the reader's attention on exactly what he wants them to be looking at. Winn's inks are strong, providing emphatic shading in spots that helps add to the overall mystique of the book's direction. Barron's colors are various shades drab that pop here and there for effect.

Divinity III: Stalinverse #1 is a very interesting what if where Russia runs the free world. The entire story comes together pretty well in setting the stage for the new take on the world where Russia rules it all and the superheroes inhabiting it are at its beck and call. Kindt's plot is engaging and the characters are presented in a way that provides for quick introductions. Hairsine's illustrations are clean and concise, placing the once-loved characters in a new position of terror in the name of an ideal. Divinity III: Stalinverse #1 is a radical take on familiar characters and could be very interesting as it continues to unfold.

Divinity III: Stalinverse #1 is available December 28.