This February brings a new character barreling back down to the Valiant Universe from outer space, in the form of "Divinity." A four-part miniseries from the creative team of Matt Kindt and Trevor Hairsine, the book reveals that during the Cold War, Russia shot a lone Cosmonaut off into outer space to explore the Galaxy. And now he has returned... but something has changed.
"Divinity" is the latest comic in the continuing partnership between the publisher and Kindt, who is currently writing several other books for Valiant including "Unity," "Rai," "The Valiant" and the upcoming "Ninjak." What even is Divinity, and what does his return mean for the Valiant Universe as a whole? CBR News managed to tease some details out of Kindt -- and also got our hands on an exclusive four-page preview of the first issue!
CBR News: "Divinity" focuses on an entirely new character within the Valiant Universe. How did the project come about? Was the concept your own, and something you brought to Valiant?
Matt Kindt: It really all started with a random phone call I got from my editor [Valiant Editor-in-Chief Warren Simons]. He called up and just said -- "I've got an idea: Divinity." Of course I laughed... and waited for the rest of the idea... which never came. He just had an idea for this title for a story, which is always a fun kind of way to come up with something. Anyway, I laughed politely and then moved on.
But that night I started thinking about it -- and then just got a fully formed idea for what the story could be to fit that title. So in a way it just started as a one-word writing prompt.
It originally started as a story arc idea I had for "Unity." I try to block out a year's worth of story at a time so I can plant seeds for things that happen later into the early issues. When I turned in the outlines for the "Divinity" storyline everyone in the office loved it so much they wanted to break it off into its own thing.
Why choose this as the project to work on with Valiant? What about the premise appealed most to you?
I'd been wanting to do something cosmic and big and something that had big monsters and strange stuff happening -- something that pushes the outer edges of the reality that the Valiant Universe is contained in -- and I saw this as a perfect vehicle to scratch that creative itch in a way that would still dovetail with the Valiant U.
Was fitting within the Valiant Universe something you consciously wanted to do? Did writing "Unity" open up areas of the current Valiant Universe to you which hadn't been touched previously and was that something you were itching to explore?
Yeah -- I think the challenge with "Unity" has always been to find a threat that requires Earth's greatest heroes to band together. Busting up terrorist cells isn't something you need Ninjak and X-O and Gilad and Livewire for -- that's stuff that real-life teams can take care of. So from a creative stand-point -- the threat level that brings Unity in to play has to be something crazy and big.
Divinity is from Russia, living during the Cold War. Was this a period of history you found interesting already? What made you want to set the opening of the book during this particular timeframe?
It's an interesting era and sort of the birth of the space race along with a confluence of a lot of things -- civil rights, cold war -- a lot of subtext that's just ripe to lay a cosmic story over. And it informs the character of Divinity -- he's not a guy that's grown up in our modern day reality. He's seen a lot more than most of us so his perspective is much more broad.
Was it difficult to place a new character into an existing landscape like the Valiant Universe, without having to explain "this is why the other books haven't mentioned him before"? Or did you actually quite enjoy the process of fitting him within existing storylines and settings?
It wasn't too tough. Without giving too much away, he really wasn't on Earth very long... he kind of disappeared and no one knew where he was or what he was doing. That'll be some of the mystery and reveal of his story. Where did he go? What did he see? And why is he back?
If anything, creating a character that's as powerful as he is was the challenge when integrating into the rest of the Valiant U. He can't be like Superman. If you bring Superman into a universe then who else do you really need? He trumps everything.
And the Valiant U is a little more reality based -- which is what I love about it. It's more of a world built on "what would really happen if characters were 10% more strange/powerful."
The character himself is a Cosmonaut, one chosen by his officers to go on a mission into space. What's his mindset, would you say? What drives him as a person, at least initially?
That's really what the series is about. Where did he come from? Why did he volunteer and even more importantly --- what did he leave behind or lose for the greater good of mankind? Those are the questions that drive the entire story. What's the mindset of a person that would go on a 30-year mission and how does that impact his actions when he comes back and finds that he can re-shape reality in any way he sees fit.
He may have Earth's best interests in mind and be harmless in his actions -- but do you think the rest of the world is going to sit by and let this guy just exist with that kind of power? That's where the tension starts coming into play.
How have you found collaborating with Trevor Hairsine on the book? What is the process between the two of you like?
He's nearly finished with the first issue and I couldn't be happier. I've been a fan of his work for quite a while so I was excited to see what he would do with this. We've had a couple conversations -- mainly me trying to find out what kinds of things he likes to draw best. I ask that of every artist I work with -- kind of a way to get some fun writing prompts -- to see if I can work in some obscure elements and also just to sort of tailor a script to his strengths.
"Divinity" is really open to a lot of creative art choices so it's fun to try to lob up a pitch that he can just crush out of the ballpark -- and he's doing it.
What about his work have you most enjoyed, thus far? What do you think his particular style has brought to the project?
I really like the organic linework that he uses -- it really contrasts with the cold dead lines that you often see in big sci-fi stories. He's bringing it down to Earth and I think making it really accessible. He's humanizing a lot of crazy scenes and technology that is just perfect for this story.
It feels like a book where you're leaving a lot open for readers to question and explore. What would you say is the main question that issue one of the book is asking? What do you want readers to come away wondering about the character, and the series, after the first issue?
I think the biggest question is -- what is his motivation? If you could be anywhere in the entire universe -- why would you choose Earth? The answer to that question will answer all the others. Unity and the rest of the world governments will all be guessing at his intentions -- and ultimately they'll have to act against him before they even know the answers to those questions. Therein lies the conflict.
"Divinity" #1 is scheduled to debut Feb. 11, 2015 from Valiant Entertainment.