By Dustin Cabeal
To start with, I haven’t read any of Divinity III, in fact, I haven’t even read Divinity II. I saw all these one-shots that came across very Flashpoint inspired in which it was just a quick look at what the characters in the Valiant Universe would be doing in the “Stalinverse” and thought, well that could be fun. It should have been fun.
I’m not going to sugar coat it. I have no idea why anyone would read this issue. Maybe if you have never read X-O Manowar (though I doubt you’d pick this up then), but if you have then this is at best a condensed version of the events that happened after Aric landed on earth… just with Russia as his overlords rather than America. That’s really the only difference. Sure he does some fighting with the Deadside which was terribly short and boring, but the only story difference was “Russia.”
I get it. You only have one issue to work with. It's fucking hard sometimes to find a story to tell in one issue that ties into this. The thing is when Valiant did Book of Death they had these great one-shots that showed how everyone died and they were great. This was a chance to create a Red Son plus Flashpoint version of every character, and that could have been exciting. It could have inspired Valiant to keep these character around afterward, but now… I would largely like them just to go away.
Joe Harris’ writing is stiff. His characters have no depth to them, and he relies on the stereotypes of Russians that we’re all familiar with by now. None of that makes this story interesting, and his version of Aric lacks anything that makes him Aric, the wielder of the X-O armor. I would even argue that this story isn’t about him, but about a Russian officer that I couldn't care less about because of his generic personality.
The art by Cafu is great. He’s always great, and of course, he curves the score on the issue a little more than if he wasn’t on the issue. We’re talking a full point here people. He can’t save the book, though. He’s given boring set pieces to work with, and a suit designs that while classic Cosmonaut science fiction, just wasn’t that cool compared to what Bloodshot looked like in his one-shot. Cafu is a talented artist, and he does a great job working with the mediocre material he has to work with. That’s the biggest shame; it’s just a waste of his talent.
I would give this book a hard pass if I were you. It’s a formula that should have produced interesting and fun results, but it’s anything but that. It has made me incredibly leery of the other one-shots and lessened my interest in Divinity III. Bottom-line, the worst case scenario happened for me.
Divinity III: Aric, Son of the Revolution #1
Writer: Joe Harris
Publisher: Valiant Comics