The third title of Valiant Entertainment's "Valiant Next" initiative begins with Matt Kindt and Trevor Hairsine's "Divinity" #1, introducing a new a brand new character into the company's mythos. Abram Adams is a Cold War-era Soviet cosmonaut who is training for an unprecedented deep space mission that comes full circle in present day Australia. Traversing both years and locales that lead up to a surprising transformation, Kindt drapes his story with an unmistakable "2001: A Space Odyssey" kind of vibe without being derivative of it, narrating the story from an omniscient viewpoint that gives it the feel of a larger scope while still peeking into the minds of individual characters.
Kindt spends the first third of the issue telling the very down-to-earth story of Adams' meteoric rise through the Soviet space program, although there is the decidedly unearthly appearance of a figure who becomes known later on, and his exceptionable mental aptitude here might not be coincidental. Kindt ensures that readers fully understand just how gifted Adams is, motivated by his love of science, but then takes an unexpected turn by also showing just how human he is. This touch adds an element of accessibility to Adams' character, whom Kindt had come very close to making so emotionally distant and isolated that readers could have been on the verge of not really caring what happens to him next.
Despite the story's time and locale, Hairsine gives it an almost timeless and transient quality; the darker-skinned Abrams doesn't look Russian, for instance, and -- for all appearances -- Abrams' story could be taking place in the 1940s, 60s, or 80s. Hairsine and inker Ryan Winn give most of the visuals a course and unfinished look, save for character close-ups; distance shots typically look hazy and not fully defined, although this appears to be more in line with Hairsine's typical style rather than a deliberate attempt at some kind of story stylization. David Baron's colors are typically subdued during Abrams' sequence, except for a shot of the Moscow skyline during a rainstorm which is oddly cast in seemingly misplaced but nonetheless pleasing purple hues.
The issue then moves decades ahead and a continent or two away, as the story of a very different Abrams coincides with that of another individual whose fate intertwines with Abrams' more than once. Here, Kindt's story takes on a more fantastic tone with peeks into Abrams' imagination or, perhaps, some actual experiences. That's unclear at this point, although it doesn't really matter; what is clear is that Abrams has become someone -- or something -- far more advanced, and this evolution is captured by the art team with far more vibrancy than the mundane trappings of mid-20th century Moscow. At this point, the meaning of the comic's title is made clear, both by mention and by action.
"Divinity" #1 is a true and worthwhile expansion of Valiant's footprint, both in the publishing world and the fictional world contained within it. The first installment of this four-issue miniseries establishes a unique place for this series in the Valiant universe, putting a new footprint in the sand that doesn't trample on the ones that are already there.