When you think about a religious story, a plot that is filled with moral lessons and that seeks for you to have faith in God, you may not expect Divinity III: Escape from Gulag 396 #1. Heck, you might not think of comics in general. Valiant has proven, and continues to prove, they are a box full of many hidden surprises.
This time, we get an alternative version of what Archer and Armstrong relationship would be like in this version of events, although I did find it hard to know if they knew each other beforehand, or if this is the first time they met. Divinity III: Escape from Gulag 396 #1 takes a much different approach to their relationship than what we see in their current series.
I also find it a bit risky for these guys to include religious messages in the story, as it could limit the potential readers they could bring in. Personal beliefs may be a little conflicting when applied to work like this, as those from others faiths may prefer to keep the material away from them. The good news is that this issue is not that strong on the Christian elements, which are presented as secondary, leaving the door open for more interpretations.
What I did like was that Divinity III: Escape from Gulag 396 #1 is the sort of comic book that it reads itself. We are presented with a more than fluid narrative, one that is light and also moves at a brisk pace. There are not as many original elements as I initially expected with a story of this nature, but keeping in mind that this is just the first chapter in the series makes it more acceptable. I wanted more, but it makes sense not to play all your cards right off the bat.
The art didn’t surprise me all that much, but it did keep the same style that we’ve come to know for the Divinity series, which is something to be thankful for. It could be described as a slightly altered version of the original series in order to match the overall story of Divinity III. It’s all very harsh, raw, wild and with a few beautiful and delicate scenes injected into the story at the right moments.
You may also want to know that there are some blood and guts to be found in here, mostly on the first pages. There are a few gory touches in order to present a more complete story, as no one likes it when things are cut or censored in any way. It all works well in context and isn’t just there to shock. Amazing inks and comfortable lettering complete the staging for this issue to unfold completely free of restraint.
This comic is already on its way to becoming a very valuable one that can I can already see leading to some interesting ends. Motivational stories about faith and the like may not be the kind of reading material for everyone, but Valiant has made sure that this one is, no matter their faith or background.