Magic tricks have always amazed me. It’s funny because you know you are about to get tricked and you watch for it. You say to yourself, “I’m going to figure out how they do this.” Then, if the magician is good, you don’t. The key of course is misdirection. Good magicians know what you are going to look for and use that to keep your eyes off of what’s important, so they can hit you with the sucker punch. Matt Kindt isn’t just a writer, he’s a wonderful magician.
I’m not going to summarize too much of this story because I don’t want to spoil anything. I was familiar with Matt Kindt because of his work on Mind MGMT. If you haven’t read that comic then I highly recommend it as a trippy book full of storytelling that breaks rules in original ways. At a basic level, “Divinity #1” is about a test pilot for an old Soviet program who is part of an experiment to travel great distances in space. I’m going to leave the summary there but I’ll also note that if you are unfamiliar with Einstein’s theories it’s worth noting that space and time are more connected than some people realize and this is going to greatly affect the story.
I’m going to try not to gush about Matt’s writing but forgive me if I fail.
It’s like the best thing ever.
Damn that didn’t last long did it? Thematically the piece connects time and memory in ways that are very human and relatable despite how far the comic wanders into fiction. And one thing I’m almost hesitant to mention but ultimately works for me is that the protagonist is African American, even though the story takes place in the U.S.S.R. I know that there are black people in Russia but it’s worth noting that it would have been easy to fill the spot with a generic, blonde haired and blue eyed character reminiscent of Steve Rogers. The choice to use a darker skinned individual adds some much needed color to comics without being obtrusive or stereotypical. I’m not sure if that decision was made exclusively in relation to Matt or if the whole art team was involved, but I for one applaud the decision.
I do not envy Trevor Hairsine’s job. This comic has enough twists and turns that a lesser artist would leave everything muddled but Trevor steps up to the plate. I especially appreciate his attention to detail in regards to setting. There are quite a few setting changes and he does a good job of filling out the settings as distinct without cluttering the page with heavy handed, “establishing shots.” Also compared to Matt Kindt’s own work on Mind MGMT, which is a bit sketchy, this comic leans towards realism. I think this is the better call as it allows those moments of intense “fiction” to really pop. I think part of what makes this magic trick land its sucker punch is the art style. Also of note is David Baron’s color palette which brings a drastic vibrancy to the comic.
When I was a kid I loved magic tricks. But as I’ve gotten older I find that I can’t watch them like I used to. I’m always looking for the reality behind the magic. When you find a good magician, they make you totally forget that you are being willingly tricked and the same is true of art. The twists in this story aren’t so much as shocking as they are wondrous. Divinity gets a strong recommendation for being the kind of comic to make your friends jealous of for not being into comics.
“Divinity #1” earns 10/10. Highest recommendation possible.