For the past few years, Valiant’s Divinity titles have followed Russian cosmonauts on a soul-searching and supernatural-empowering journey – but in its third volume, it’s coming back to Earth and re-making the Valiant U.
Divinity III: Stalinverse is the name of the New York-based company’s new event kicking off in December, featuring a core event series and several spin-off event one-shots such as Divinity III: Komandar Bloodshot. In this Age of Apocalypse-style scenario, the U.S.S.R. won the Cold War and the world now firmly rests under Soviet rule – with numerous Valiant heroes such as Bloodshot, X-O Manowar, and Ninjak operating under their auspices.
Ahead of Valiant’s December 2016 solicitations to be released later this week, Newsarama talked with Valiant’s Editor-In-Chief Warren Simons about the Stalinverse event and specifically the Komandor Bloodshot one-shot scheduled for release December 28.
Newsarama: Warren, describe the Divinity III: Stalinverse event for our readers.
Warren Simons: In the early 1960s, while the Americans were targeting the moon, the Soviets were aiming for the edge of the solar system. They sent three cosmonauts on a mission deep into space, where they encountered an extraordinary intelligence called the Unknown, which seemingly imbued them with incredible powers. The first to make contact was Abram Adams – a.k.a. Divinity - and he abandoned the others to return home and find the wife and child he left behind 50 years before. The second cosmonaut - a hardened Marxist named Myshka – also returned to Earth, and was stunned to see the Soviet Union had collapsed. This was inconceivable to her - the state had saved her from the streets of Moscow and given her everything. She used her extraordinary powers to alter time and space to restore Russia to a superpower, but eventually, Divinity stopped her.
When we open the Divinity III: Stalinverse, we see that the Valiant Universe is upside down. The Soviets have won the Cold War, handily. Communism has conquered the world, and the U.S.S.R. has been the lone superpower for some time. Bloodshot is an agent of the Union, crushing protestors in California. X-O Manowar is with the KGB, protecting the state from IMD's (Improvised Magical Devices) and crushing super-powered opposition with an iron fist. We see all this through Ninjak’s eyes - he’s been dispatched by the Central Committee to assess the loyalty of these agents. We begin here. What happened, what went wrong, and can it be fixed - these are the key questions that drive the story, which is a four-issue event.
Like Harbinger Wars, Book of Death, or 4001 A.D., our goal is to make this story accessible and new reader friendly. The four one-shots that are on-sale from December to March will be standalone stories and will enhance the tapestry of this world, but aren’t required reading to understand what’s happening in the main book. Bloodshot and X-O Manowar are the first two, and a new character - like War Mother in the 4001 A.D. crossover - might be coming up as well…
Nrama: And the one I’m told you can talk about right now is Komandar Bloodshot. You’ve told us a little bit about Bloodshot in this Stalinverse campaign, but what’s the one-shot about specifically?
Simons: Jeff Lemire and Clayton Crain are the creative team for Komandar Bloodshot, and Jeff’s continuing his incredible work redefining the character. He’s put together a helluva story here which features Bloodshot as an absolute Soviet wrecking ball - a force of nature sent to dispatch anyone who dares question the U.S.S.R. leadership, or communism as an ideology. Jeff opens with Bloodshot, dispatched via rocket, to quell an insurrection in Colorado. It’s like the 1980 “Miracle On Ice,” but in reverse, with a lot more violence and carnage.
We’ll check in on a number of characters from Jeff’s run, including Rampage, Magic, and Festival. The script is a real gem - I told Jeff a few weeks ago it’s one of my favorite things he’s written for us.
Nrama: So what’s this world like for Bloodshot?
Simons: Bloodshot is an unstoppable force. He’s imbued with millions of nanites that allow him to heal from any wound, change shapes, interact with technology - and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. A weapon like this - who’s built and controlled by a communist regime that’s killed tens of millions of civilians - is a frightening prospect. It’s against this backdrop we meet Komandar Bloodshot.
Nrama: What precipitates history being re-written in the Valiant U for everything to become the ‘Stalinverse'?
Simons: That question is the mystery that’s at the core of this story. This isn’t an Elseworlds story. This happens in the Valiant Universe. This is the Valiant Universe. How do we wake up one day and see Stalin portrayed as a hero instead of a mass murderer? Why didn’t the Soviet Union collapse under the weight of its own corruption and violence? One of our characters is hellbent on finding out if he’s going crazy… or if something has gone wrong…
Nrama: What kind of research have the writers and editors done to take real-life Russian society and extrapolate what it'd be like if they won the Cold War?
Simons: Matt Kindt, who’s helmed all three Divinity series, has done a ton or research on Russia and the U.S.S.R., including reading the 816-page A History of Russia from cover to cover. I’m fascinated by Russian history as well, particularly World War II and the extraordinary sacrifices the country made during that time. What’s past is prologue, as the saying goes, so we’ve tried to ground ourselves in the history, but it’s obviously a work of fiction, and there are a million variables in a story this broad.
Nrama: And how does Divinity work into this new reality?
Simons: When we meet Divinity for the first time, it’s going to be in a way we’ve never seen before, and we’re going to see one of the most powerful characters in any superhero universe unable to do almost anything to combat the helplessness of his situation. Matt’s doing some great work here, and Trev’s drawing the hell out of it. It’s going to be a lot of fun.