Valentina Volkov was one of three Russian cosmonauts sent on a top secret mission to the farthest reaches of space. Her mission was a complete success and now she is making her return back to Earth with the gifts and abilities acquired at The Unknown. How does it fare?
Divinity II #1 is very much an origin story for Valentina Volkov. Writer Matt Kindt jumps back and forth between the present and past to fully flesh out Valentina’s character with an emphasis on her devotion to the Russian state. We see her before she was ever recruited into the cosmonaut program as an urchin and thief living off the streets to a test experiment for a Russian scientist.
As with most characters, Valentina has a tragic beginning. Fortunately, it doesn’t involve the death of one’s parents. However, her beginning does shape her as a character, especially her devotion to the Russian state. Kindt continues to develop her devotion to the state throughout the entire issue. It builds quite nicely to an ultimate realization on the final panel.
Kindt incorporates both a narrative voice and dialogue into the writing. The narrative voice is primarily used for exposition, detailing the facts of the events and at some points detailing the characters’ emotions. The dialogue is extremely moving, especially during the scenes at The Unknown between Valentina and her fellow cosmonaut, Kazmir. Kindt really captures Valentina’s cold, calculating, and ruthless nature. There is one issue and it seems to be a pattern of late. Writers use a narrative voice without revealing the voice behind it until the end of the story where, lo and behold, the narrative voice is the character narrating their own story. It comes off as cheap and does so in this case. There isn’t really any surprise or shock; rather, it can be actually confusing to realize the narrative you are reading is from the actual character.
The artwork captures Trevor Hairsine’s range. He delivers on the fantastical outer space scenes, giving us strange alien fauna. In addition, he is able to deliver extremely personal and emotional scenes with close-ups on characters’ faces. He really controls the pace and flow of the book with a number of different panel layouts. He can slow the book down to really focus on important and impactful moments by bunching panels together or quicken it using much larger panels for big action scenes.
There is one point at the beginning of the issue where a panel feels added in and doesn’t really make sense with the story. It depicts just the boots of one of the cosmonauts. It appears Hairsine is attempting to use a point of view reference to have us looking at Valentina’s boots from her eyes. Unfortunately, it comes off as an unfinished panel with the rest of her character chopped off. It gives the impression this page might be a dream sequence despite the “Eight Years Later.” signifying it is a jump forward in time.
The story also has its faults. It appears the cosmonauts gain power upon breathing the air at The Unknown. However, Kazmir doesn’t seem to gain any powers whatsoever with his helmet removed. Whether it’s an error is unclear, but it is definitely something that is left unexplained that is rather important to the story.
Divinity II #1 is an excellent starting point for Valentina Volkov. Matt Kindt and Trevor Hairsine give us a pretty in-depth character origin detailing who she is and more importantly why she does the things she does, the foremost reason being her utter commitment to the Russian state. There are some minor art, story, and writing issues, but nothing that should prevent you from picking this book up! Kindt and Hairsine have created the new Communist threat with Valentina Volkov.
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