Warning: This article contains spoilers for the Valiant Comics mini series “Divinity” by Matt Kindt and Trevor Hairsine.
This is a continuation of my “Why I Love” series.
Have you ever felt the weight of the world on your shoulders before? Of course you have. In life, there’s so much pressure to succeed. Sometimes, it comes from outside forces such as the media and society. Sometimes, those pressures come from those we love most, our family and friends. And more often than not, those pressures come from ourselves. We simply put too much pressure on ourselves sometimes. But, in most cases in life, we all have the opportunity to make a choice. Sometimes, the system makes those choices for you, and other times, you’re forced to make bad choices. At certain points in life however, the choice will be all up to you. Do you choose to study for that big exam? Do you choose to cheat on your wife? Or do you choose to ask for that job promotion you know you deserve? Sometimes it can all be too much. Sometimes, a plethora of choices can lead to inaction. I’ve struggled in my life with depression and anxiety, and sometimes I need to remind myself of how blessed I am to have the opportunities in life that I do have, and that I have the ability to make choices for myself. Still, I know that sometimes we all have those moments where we simply do not know what to do. We know that something is out there for us but damn, it’s hard to find. The famous philosopher, Aristotle, says that happiness is the highest good we humans strive for as rational beings. He goes deep into what he thinks happiness is, and, to sum it up, he believes it to be contemplation. Contemplation of things that we could never understand. Things we could never reach or touch. He believes that contemplation is the closest we can achieve to becoming his version of God, or feeling the constant pleasure that God does. I find some truth in that. So does Abram Adams aka Divinity. I see myself in him in so many ways. I wrote my “Why I Love Nighthawk” piece a little while ago and I talked about the ways in which I see myself in that character. Dealing with racism is no fun and can drive you insane the more you’re exposed to it and the more you understand the way it works. Nighthawk is a character I related to the second I picked up that comic. Divinity is the same, but on a different level. He yearns for the ability to choose in his life. And not only does he want to choose, but he does choose happiness. What makes Divinity happy? Education, knowledge, and contemplation of things he cannot understand. But, underneath he’s confused and scared. He questions his core beliefs and motivations to the point he wants to quit, but he knows what he’s doing is best for him. I’d like to welcome everyone reading this on Peace, Love, and Comics to my “Why I Love” piece on Divinity.
Divinity is written by Matt Kindt and penciled by Trevor Hairsine. Ryan Winn is the inker and David Baron is the colorist. This story comes from Valiant Comics. If you follow me on Twitter @peacelovecomics than you know the love I have for Valiant. Their stories are rich, and they seem dedicated to creating diverse heroes. Divinity is the newest hero in their universe and another diverse addition. The original 4-issue comic came out in 2015 and has been followed by three more four issue-stories. I’m mainly going to be talking about the first 4-issue mini. I also highly recommend reading Divinity II, Divinity III, and Eternity. Each story revolves around this idea of choice. It’s the first reason I love Divinity, because he chooses happiness and contemplation. I know that sounds weird but let me tell you a little bit about who Divinity is.
Abram Adams was left on the doorstep of the Russian Foreign Minister and his parents have never been revealed. When his foster parents died, he was recruited by the state and trained. Trained to do something nothing human had ever done before. Travel to the edge of the universe during the Cold War. America wanted to get to the moon. Russia was trying to go farther. It’s a cool concept but that’s just the initial pitch. This story really resonates with me because of the character work done by Kindt and Hairsine throughout this trilogy. Abram tries to convince himself that he believes in the cause, that being the Russian cause, but he doesn’t. Never has. The real reason he wants to take this mission is because of that yearning for knowledge. And true knowledge, not just facts you can read in a book that were created by humans. Abram wasn’t given many options in his life. Orphaned, abandoned, and molded into being a slave for the Russian government. He took it upon himself to seek his own identity. I relate to that because I did the same when I was growing up. I played sports and was a part of organizations and clubs but I didn’t let that define me. I was never the best at anything I did growing up, but the one thing I did enjoy was education. Not for the grades or anything like that. Well, I’m lying, it felt good to get good grades. But the fact that I was closer to attaining true knowledge filled me up with pride. I didn’t let anyone tell me what to study or what to focus on. I’ve always focused on what I believe can lead me to that true form of happiness. Be it science fiction novels, poetry, comics, biology, astronomy, whatever. Abram did the same thing, and when he set sail for the edges of the universe, he was positive that happiness and knowledge would be two things he would achieve. Two things he’d been striving for his entire life.
Remember that thing I said about doubting core beliefs? Yeah, that’s where this story gets tricky. And I’m not talking about political beliefs. Abram and myself both share the same love of education and gaining wisdom and knowledge through education. Those beliefs are tested often. One way is when you see others succeeding more than you, and they don’t seem to have, or even respect your core beliefs. That can be disorienting and sometimes, frustrating. The other way is when you experience something outside of your normal realm of “happiness” and it truly does satisfy a certain part of your soul. For myself and Abram that was the love of another person. It’s another reason I love Divinity. This is a tragic character through and through and it sticks out to me more than most, because of my own life. Abram was told to not have any contact with anyone while he was training. The government thought they had a tight lock on Abram, but he secretly had a wife during this. Eva was the love of his life, yet Abram still decided to leave on the voyage. Before he left, Eva told him that she was pregnant. This story could have easily turned into a thriller where Abram and Eva are on the run from the Russian government. That’s a story I’d read and I think others would as well. Not to mention Kindt has written Ninjak before so those elements are something he’s quite comfortable with. Still, he decided to leave. Sometimes, our core beliefs can blind us. We lose touch of what is really important in life. Abram had a choice to make here. And I do believe he chose wrong. His thirst for knowledge and something different outweighed everything else, and given how he was raised, I’m not surprised. It’s part of the tragedy that is his character. There’s a powerful page in the second issue where he’s witnessing his past, before he left for space. While in space Divinity came into contact with something known as the Unknown. He removed his helmet while in space and gained powers similar to that of a God. He can shape matter and even time in his image. That pure knowledge he was searching for was achieved. But what’s the first thing he did once he got the powers? He set his ship on a course for Earth to be reunited with Eva. The image of him watching his old self in bed with Eva the night before he left is one that will be burned into my head forever. Hairsine tells incredible stories with his art, and this was the best example of it to me.
Divinity is a marvel to the people of modern day Earth when he comes back. He interacts not only with them but with the members of Unity, Valiant’s government super team consisting of XO Manowar, Eternal Warrior, Livewire, and Ninjak. Some fun stuff happens there, but the last reason I love Divinity is the way Kindt closes this mini out. The very first thing Abram did when he arrived on present day Earth was resurrect his wife and child he left behind. Except when Divinity does this, they have full memories of everything that happened in their lives. Eva explains to Abram that she lived a long life and that his daughter ended up dying of cancer but lived a good life as well. This moment is hard to read because Eva doesn’t want to be alive again. She’s lived a full life without Abram and at some moment in time she got over him. Abram’s face is filled with sadness as he is forced to “kill” his family again. As Divinity, Abram has reached a higher plane of consciousness. He thinks about things no one else does, and can meditate for days, and be at complete peace. Throughout the story, he refers to Abram as a different person from Divinity. The mini ends with him resurrecting his daughter again, and just talking with her about her life. As Abram narrates, he talks about how with his powers, he can witness and change any part of the book, which represents time. He says that sometimes, he likes to flip through the pages of Abram Adams, page by page, and savor the moments. I couldn’t help but cry at this part because it’s painfully sad, but boy it’s some great character work.
I mentioned the bit about time being a book. I want to expand on that. Kindt uses this analogy because of Abram’s love of books. When Abram was younger, that’s all he did was read books. This ties into his version of happiness too. Abram wanted nothing more than to be able to view more than one page in life. He wanted to know what was at the end of the book, what the cover felt like, and he wanted to read the first sentence. But, Kindt alludes to the idea that humans are trapped within the confines of one page, moving only when the page turns. And not only that, I believe Kindt thinks that this is where humans need to be. Desiring that kind of knowledge and happiness is admirable, but it’s meant to be a goal that will never be accomplished. Instead, one should focus on what’s in front of them, and enjoy the spoils of being alive and existing within that page in an enormous book. That message seems to imply that education and contemplation are pointless, but I don’t think so. When Abram becomes Divinity, he lands in Australia and everyone he interacts with experiences a sort of awakening. Divinity “transforms” them into benevolent things that represent the inner peace within himself. On the surface, he aches for Eva and his daughter. Aches for the cowardice he showed on his mission. But underneath, his years of putting his education first has shaped him into a kind soul. A soul who doesn’t care for violence but will use it when necessary. A soul who sees the best in others and will help them achieve whatever it is they want. So, in a way, Divinity is Abram, but Abram isn’t necessarily Divinity. I think it’s Abram who exists as Divinity, and not just Divinity. Eventually, he discovers this as well, and helps a close friend realize the same. But, this comic has a special place in my heart because of these themes. Choices define us. Time is like a book that’s already written. Happiness can be achieved, the book can be experienced, but true happiness is understanding that we as humans can never view multiple pages at once. Abram learned that lesson the hard way and lost the ones closest to him. But I don’t think any other person in the Valiant Universe, and maybe even all of comics, could handle the power that he was given. I hope you enjoyed this piece, and now I hope you understand Why I Love Divinity.
Been a long time since I posted on here. If you are reading this, I’m happy you decided to check out my work. I promise this is the start of me keeping up with posting on my site. During the past almost three months, I’ve been working on my own work. It’s a superhero novel titled Mystic Man. I’ll talk more about it on here soon, but you can go check out the promo I’ve done on my Twitter. Once again, thank you for reading and I hope you continue to read comics that you love, and support creators and characters you love. More to come. Peace, Love, and Comics to all!
PS- I’m way too excited to see Black Panther this Friday. Wakanda Forever!