Divinity graphic novel review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Valiant - 978-1-939346-76-6
  • Volume No.: 1
  • Release date: 2015
  • UPC: 9781939346766
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes

Until Divinity Valiant’s 21st century imprint had survived almost exclusively on characters created for their 1990s predecessor, and had re-worked many of the concepts as well. This was their first original creation launched as a headliner, and as such a big deal. It’s just as well it worked out.

Abram Adams is a black American baby deposited on the doorstep of a Russian embassy in 1941. He’s studious, bright and athletic, matching the best the Soviet education system can produce, and when in 1960 a trio of cosmonauts is selected to travel in suspended animation to the furthest reaches of the galaxy, Adams is among them, told the return trip will last thirty years. The person who returns to the Australian desert in 2015 is very different. He’s able to manipulate reality, yet displays only benign intent. In the way of authorities everywhere, he’s therefore seen as a threat to be obliterated.

Matt Kindt’s plot is surprisingly good at explaining the inexplicable, yet not everything is answered. To all intents and purposes, by current standards of understanding the being now named Divinity is a God, able to sense the deepest desire of anyone they interact with and grant it. Kindt cleverly humanises this behaviour with the unspoken question of why Adams doesn’t act on his own deepest desire, and when he does we reach the crux of the story. He takes an interesting view on what it is that some people want, and whether it’s advisable they achieve this. There’s also a great ambiguity about Divinity, and by the end it has the feeling of a prologue rather than a self-contained work. There is a Divinity II.

Some very big ideas need to be visually extrapolated in a way that renders them comprehensible, and Trevor Hairsine manages this effortlessly. Eternal Warrior, Live Wire, Ninjak and X-O feature in the more standard pages, and these seem ordinary in comparison. The best aspect of the art is how Hairsine induces a feeling of melancholy from the start, the emotional characterisation very strong.

For all the originality of some elements, the mind keeps wandering back to Watchmen’s Doctor Manhattan, to whom time is similarly non linear, seemingly controlled by the protagonist, and who also focuses on some elements of the past as a disassociated viewer. The use of the character is completely different, but the similarities occur.

A deluxe hardcover edition can be bought in preference to the trade paperback, featuring more in the way of process and explanation pages, but that’s for the real enthusiast only as the standard edition hardly lacks for these.