Feb 12 2015
Valiant’s resurgence brings numerous well written, well thought out exercises in modern comix. Back in its heyday – and hope those have returned – I recall the general consensus being that Valiant comics were terrifically written, sometimes capably drawn. But especially it was this: some kind of integral component of its contemporary publisher-kin – some inherent schmaltz or inseparable goofiness that ran through superhero and sci-fi books in the 90s like a garishly colored vein – that Valiant reliably dodged again and again. They seemed to fully empower their writers, who created cottage cult-industries of their fascinating heroes, written for the fans, critic’s darlings by the dozen, but nary a glimmer of the profit of The Big 2.
Valiant is continuing its streak, bringing powerhouse writers to their modern fare like Joshua Dysart, Robert Venditti, and oh-yes-thank-you Mr. Matt Kindt. Those of us who know Kindt might be summoning him from Mind MGMT, the recent ingenious psychic spy-thriller mystery that continues to enrich and unravel in the most rewarding ways. If I could don my absurd hipster glasses for a moment, I’ll admit that I’ve followed Kindt since the days of Pistolwhip, the deconstructed radio show murder mystery where I first encountered his graceful brushwork. But it wasn’t until I read 2 Sisters and its surrounding stories that I first really sank in to his narrative vision, usually emotional, yet measured, invoking secrecy and spy games as effective sentimentality. Kindt remains a truly singular voice in modern graphic storytelling, balancing the cerebral with the sensitive in a virtuosic manner that only improves with his years.
It is no less the case with Divinity’s first issue, where we are served one of the most frequent elements of Kindt’s craft: staid-seeming internal monologues that somehow seem to render the elaborate charms of the normal world into mystic frieze. So many unusual and chewy elements are here, including the central focus, the story of a black exceptional orphan growing up on cold war-torn Soviet soil. We are introduced to Abram Adams so suddenly, so carefully, that his subtle ignorance to a story of race-riots on American television speaks volumes of a man who is his motherland’s golden son. Abram is sober, inspired and hyper-disciplined, but he is no simple protagonist cipher.
As with most Kindt books, the mystery deepens, murkily and wonderfully, to the point where the end of this issue has laid a dozen questions easily on the inspired reader’s brain, yet simultaneously feeling as if it’s been feeding you answer and exposition.
Trevor Hairsine is a terrific accompanying artist, replacing Kindt’s subjective, flowing brushwork with detailed commanding visuals, completed with the striking face of Abram Adams himself. I sometimes think that some people have passed over Kindt’s self-drawn work, as the art didn’t vibe with them for whatever reason (I personally have always loved his art). Here and with other present-day Kindt collaborations that is little excuse, and Hairsine’s layouts seem to invoke every intention of the writer and then some. The cover in particular I found intriguing; it chooses not to reveal Adams’ ethnic background but, then again, the character is surrounded by a society who loves him and elevates his impressive skills and abilities. He is the perfect cosmonaut, and you wouldn’t see his skin color through the spacesuit.
Divinity’s first issue is an impressive achievement and a must-buy for sci-fi mystery fans, anyone who loves Kindt, and everyone in between.