If you had divine powers, where would you go? If you ask Matt Kindt, he’ll point you to the further reaches of the Valiant Universe.
This week, Kindt and artistic collaborator Trevor Hairsine begin the next installment in the cosmic journey of their once-mortal cosmonaut Divinity in the newest miniseries: Eternity. This four-part sequel looks to take readers beyond time and beyond space as Abram and Myshka go in search of the origin of their powers.
As Eternity #1 hits stands this week, Newsarama spoke with Kindt about how he’s endeavored to prepare readers for this story over the years, and why he feels Eternity provides him and his fellow collaborators the chance to really push the creative boundaries at Valiant.
Newsarama: Matt, we have a new series coming out from yourself and Trevor Hairsine called Eternity. Given the time you spent developing the Divinity saga, it seems you won’t be taking a break from narratives with a more epic and philosophical nature.
But before we dig into Eternity, I’d like to go back for a moment to your last work with the character Divinity with the #0 issue.
The Divinity series (I – III plus the #0 issue) sets the stage for these three cosmonauts’ journey and eventual return to Earth. Although the standard Valiant timeline has effectively been reset, there are still some people who’ve been able to remain from the alternate timeline that was brought about in Divinity III. What ramifications will this have for the Valiant Universe given that it’s been mixed with that of another universe?
Matt Kindt: I think it really gives us the opportunity to open up the universe to some new ideas that we haven’t really seen play out yet. I absolutely love the idea of the Valiant U. being like our world, but just tilted 10% - so it’s a little off, but still mostly grounded. Those are the kinds of stories I like to tell the most.
But opening up a kind of pocket universe that leaks into the Valiant U. is letting me sneak some stranger characters into the “real world” for us to play with. The Red Legend and a few of the other Stalinverse characters that survived are the first small leak that we’ve seen, and they will definitely be a part of the world going forward. The world will still be grounded, but it’s going to have to deal with these slightly more outlandish characters in a very real way.
Nrama: We see at the end that Divinity and his fellow cosmonaut, Myshka, are pregnant. Given Abram’s extraordinary powers and his relative detachment from humanity, why might he want to participate in the creation process through more… conventional means? Couldn’t he simply “wish” a child into being?
Kindt: But what fun is that?
Not really kidding about that either - I think the reason to have a child - for them - isn’t about just the end product of having a child - but it’s a process for both of them to be in a loving relationship and have this be the living embodiment of them together. Sure, he could probably wish something into existence, but it’s not in his character to do that and then what would the purpose of that child be? We saw in the first arc when he tried to “fix” things - and ended up realizing he was in over his head emotionally, so I think having a child and a relationship is his way, and Myshka’s way, to stay grounded. They definitely are not interested in a wish-baby!
Nrama: Matt, I know we’ve spoken a lot about your work with Valiant over the years, and one thing I’ve garnered is that you seed your future storylines early on. You’ve mentioned that Eternity was always in the back of your mind when you started writing Divinity I. Can you share with us where you intended to take Abram and the cosmonauts originally?
Kindt: I think it’s important to really build a character up first - like Divinity and make him into his own thing… and then slowly sort of integrate him into the larger universe. If he’s not fully defined first, I think you can run the risk of muddying up the characters. So, having him sort of be in his own bubble early on - the first arc or two - and then letting him bounce off the rest of the characters is key to making those interactions fun. So, this is really part four in his evolution and development - where we’ve grounded him, we’ve integrated him with the rest of the universe and now we get to send him out into a sort of bubble/pocket universe to hopefully figure out his origin and also find his missing kid.
Nrama: And as a follow up to that, how has the journey evolved for you once you started moving from outline to script?
Kindt: I recently re-read the scripts for issue #1 and the outline - and it’s really not too far off. The Stalinverse ended up being a lot bigger than I had originally planned - characters and scenarios for that just started suggesting themselves to me, and Warren [Simons, Valiant' Editor-In-Chief] was super-excited about the idea and wanted me to really blow it up (creatively). But the structure of my original pitch never really changed. The first three arcs were built to explore each of the three cosmonauts. The fourth story was going to be the absolutely bonkers conclusion to my original pitch - where we go to the Unknown and watch Abram try to sort it all out - and we pull out all the stops narratively.
The real question is: “Where do we go after this arc?” I didn’t have that in the original pitch, but when I started Eternity, I had an idea for the next chapter, so it’s going to keep on spinning and evolving. I’d say after Eternity, the next story is the most organic of them all… It’s where the characters wanted to go rather than where I’d planned for them to be.
Nrama: You’ve mentioned elsewhere that the story you’re crafting in Eternity is meant to be an exploration of the Unknown through the eyes of Myshka and Abram. I’m curious: What informs your belief of what lies outside of existence? What helps shape your ideas behind the Unknown that our two cosmonauts will explore?
Kindt: I think what really informs my writing is having read a ton of Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, Herbert, Dick…and then later reading Nabokov and Dostoyevsky. It’s really a mix of all that writing that makes up the DNA that is Divinity, and I think a lot of the series really wears those influences on its sleeve.
But it’s also informed by my idea of the creative process and writing and how it works. I don’t think Divinity’s travels and search for meaning are really my way of trying to answer the question I get all the time: “Where do ideas come from?” - and I think that question is really pretty deep and not easy to answer. They come from everywhere and all the time, but that question also speaks to something bigger. Bigger questions and bigger fears - but I’ll let the series speak to those questions.
Nrama: Looking back at those preview pages, I noticed a strong connection between what you and Trevor are doing and some of the more trippy, classic cosmic elements from Jack Kirby. In what ways would you say you and the team are informed by Kirby, and in what ways would you say you’re moving in your own directions (artistically)?
Kindt: Trevor has been the best - the entire team really, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give them credit for making Divinity what it is. Ryan Winn inking and David Baron on colors - having them as the regular team on this series was critical. We’ve gotten to know each other and the familiarity has allowed us to really play to each other’s strengths. I know what Trev likes to draw - and that’s important - giving him room to really spread his wings is key, and then knowing that David and Ryan are reading the scripts as well - it’s fantastic. I know if there’s a color idea, David will see it in the script. It really is all of us pulling together to create this big idea.
That said, in this book, I’ve left a lot open for Trev. There are a lot of notes in the script that are just me basically saying “go crazy on this double-page spread!” - and he is. He really is. I’ve never seen anything like these pages that the guys are turning in. The color is nuts- the images… I know we were trying to channel a bit of Kirby on this thing, but this is beyond any of that. It’s become something else entirely.
Nrama: When it comes to merging the cosmic genre with that of superheroes, people always talk about Kirby. In your mind, who else should readers be looking at that you think helped inform your work on this series?
Kindt: I’ve been touting Philip K. Dick and Nabokov as some of my biggest influences for a long time, which is why I was so excited watching the new Blade Runner movie and seeing Pale Fire (one of my favorite books of all time) feature in the film. I think it’s the first time two of my influences have ever overlapped like that. I think you can easily get distracted by the superficial trappings of cosmic and sci-fi elements, but really - at the heart of it - it’s just a fun way to get to good character moments and ideas.
Who wants to read a story about a lonely man searching for the meaning of life in a never-ending universe? Ugh. But put it in a pocket universe full of colorful characters and powers and mind-bending art – and now you’ve got something that I want to read!
And here is a first look at November's Eternity #2.