After my review of Divinity #2, I ended up in a pretty long conversation with a close friend about this comic, telling him how much I enjoyed it and speculating about where I thought the story might eventually turn. My description gave him the impression that Matt Kindt was working on an allegory of the Jesus narrative from Judeo-Christian tradition. While he made several connections between this text and the story of Jesus, I remained unconvinced that Kindt was simply repackaging that classic narrative of a human made divine figure. Though there are elements that are similar (the mistrust in Adam Abram due to his power, the disciple he adopted last issue, his peaceful response to attackers), Divinity distinguishes itself from the narrative of Jesus of Nazareth because at its heart the comic is a love story concerning the desperate lengths a person will go to fulfill a promise to his loved ones, acting out of his own self-interest. The previous issue ended with several established Valiant universe characters, as the super team Unity, commencing an assault on Abrams, codename Divinity, in order to take him in for questioning. Rather than treating us to what would have undoubtedly been a visual spectacle of a brawl, Kindt, and the art team of Trevor Hairsine, Ryan Winn, and David Baron divvy the opening page into three time periods. The opening panel shows Abrams with his lover Eva prior to his departure, her pregnant belly foregrounded as the two spend their last days together. The second panel drops us into the current meeting between Divinity and the members of Unity (X-O Manowar, Live Wire, Eternal Warrior, and Ninjak), Ninjak telling him that they only arrived to talk and Divinity responding with a glare from his pupil-less eyes. The second half of the page devotes itself to Abrams’ space travel where he converses with unseen people before the second page treats us to a major reveal— he was not the only cosmonaut sent by the Russians.
This page does a fantastic job of giving readers all the information they will need to understand the complicated narrative structure of the issue. Even when it becomes disorienting, Kindt and the others use this first page as a codex they can refer to, knowing that any scene within the issue follows from one of these timelines, an essential move given the time distortions that occur throughout the issue as a result of Divinity’s manipulation of the Unity members’ perception of reality.
There’s a great sense of epic scale in the space scenes that really lend Abram transformation the gravitas it requires given that the source of his transformation has been kept from us until this issue. Hairsine, Winn and Baron’s collaborative work on the splash panel of Abram and the other cosmonauts descending to a vortex is easily one of the most wondrous pages I’ve seen in a comic so far this year. The artistic team depict the furthest reaches of outer space as if it’s a hurricane about to fall into itself with Baron’s colors creating a look both alien and familiar like the northern lights on acid, space acid. Undeniably, it looks like a place where a man can become divine. Therefore when it seems clear that Abram’s transformation would happen here I was at first underwhelmed by the lack of surprise. However, once the transformation actually commences its gorish effects unsettled me once again, and even as we’re shown this long-held secret a new one is established concerning the fate of his comrades after they enter the vortex that Abram leaves.
If I have any complaints with this issue it’s the means by which Ninjak wakes himself and the other members from the false reality Divinity drops them into. The repetition of concentrating on your breath, and the ease of executing the technique made it a pretty hokey concept I couldn’t get entirely behind. I did like how those pages were framed through captions from Ninjak’s journal, doing a great job of making sense for me why this ninja can hold his own on a team comprised of powerhouse figures. The final page confused the heck out of me in the best of ways, and I’m confident Kindt has much more to unleash in Divinity’s conclusion.