Divinity #4 Worth the Build-up?

GameStop, Inc.

It takes a lot to make any art (book, movie, comic, you name it) featuring someone with godlike-powers work. Matt Kindt has given it a good run in Divinity, but he hasn’t quite pulled it off. Many things work, but the potential power of the tale is bled off by the ending.

One difficulty is that Divinity has had quite a build up: He can make the desert blossom, can heal the sick, bring people their heart’s desires, and—so it is claimed—reshape the world. Possibly he can also travel through time; I was taking him literally, but as matters play out, memory is also a possibility. Yet, in the last issue, Ninjak led the others into shaking off his mental influence because they’re just that good. Sadly, this does more to undercut the so-called Divinity’s power than it does to build up Unity’s; they face him without paying any significant price–any number of non-divine figures have given them worse. There is ultimately a point in the combat in this issue where either Livewire knows far, far more than she should, or Adams senses a great deal less than he should.

On a trivial level, I want to know why Abram Adams has spent the entire story in his space suit. I kept expecting this to matter in some way, for him to be dependent on it for power, or life, or—something. As it is, he apparently just finds it comfortable.

Most disappointing is the complete failure to make use of the allusions scattered throughout the first three issues. Using a literary allusion is dicey: It can add oomph to a story, underlining important points and giving a resonance not otherwise achievable. On the other hand, there should be more than incidental connection between the stories, enough so that it is obvious why the allusion is there, and if it is not, the story being told fades in comparison. Unfortunately, Kind and Hairsine between them evoked Adam, Eve, Moses, Abraham, Jesus, and Buddha while telling a story that would be exactly the same had the main character been named Bob Jones, loved a woman named Sue, and been delivered to the orphanage in a normal fashion. The names add up to nothing in meaning, the bit about being found in the basket has zero purpose, sitting in a lotus position and sending out messengers goes nowhere. Nor, in the end, has Abram Adams led anyone anywhere. All those rich, inter-textual possibilities are squandered.

What does work? A fair bit; most of the first three issues. In the first place, while the story does not end well, I have to applaud the ambition shown. This was definitely not the easy choice in stories, and it is good to see a writer taking risks. The movement back and forth through time, weaving together multiple timelines in any one story while keeping them distinct and making it clear why all the threads were there is a masterful work in storytelling. And the art is excellent. Abram emerges as a full character in a short span. Ultimately, though, it is the end that matters, and Divinity #4 brings an ambitious but ultimately flawed story to an end with neither a bang nor a whimper.

Writer: Matt Kindt
Penciler: Trevor Hairsine
Inker: Ryan Winn
Colorist: David Baron
Letterer: Dave Lanphear


Note: Spoilers below the images.

SPOILERS BELOW:

Part of the problem comes simply from the decision to keep Divinity around in order to have Divinity versus Imperium and Divinity II At this point, a being advertised as having godlike power over time and space, someone who can reshape reality at will, was brought down with far less cost than Harada’s temporary “defeat” added up to. No one lost anything; they simply got Gin-Gr to “contain” a man who was either delusional or deceived. As far as future uses go—I’m already concerned that Ging-Gr is showing signs of too much power—she shows yet another new ability this issue. Adding Abram Adams to the mix and there’s a deus and a machina right there. I’m not saying that they can’t tell good stories with these two (Valiant has a good record, after all), but the greater the power a being has, the harder it is to keep matters interesting.

SPOILERS END!

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