One of the books announced at the most recent Valiant Summit was “Divinity III: Stalinverse,” a look at what the Valiant universe would look like if Russia had won the Cold War. Comics fans love alternate histories, and seemingly ones involving the USSR most of all, so this was a very exciting announcement.
Today, we are thrilled to exclusively building on that announcement, by announcing “Divinity III: Shadowman & The Battle of New Stalingrad” from Scott Bryan Wilson and Robert Gill, due out this February.
We spoke with Wilson, as well as editor Kyle Andrukiewicz about the series, and are debuting three covers to the first issue. After the interview, keep reading for the full press release about the series.
The first two Divinity series were very self-contained, “Divinity III” is a much bigger beast altogether with a big concept and tie-ins. Kyle, as an editor, what went into deciding this direction for the third mini-series?
Kyle Andrukiewicz: The mind of Matt Kindt! At Valiant, we try to let our stories progress naturally, and this was the natural progression of the “Divinity” concept. The first mini-series was really personal and intense and was about this cosmic being. It was almost quiet in a way. The second mini-series expanded that concept. Abram Adams’ ambitions were focused on family and were very personal. Myshka’s ambitions were still personally based, because she was forced to deal with the disillusionment of an Earth that wasn’t what she thought it was supposed to be. That’s more global in and of itself.
With “Stalinverse,” we are getting another natural extension of where “Divinity” has been headed all along. This isn’t just global, it’s universal and fans are really going to get their money’s worth out of a crazy Jack Kirby-esque cosmic story unlike anything Valiant has done before. “Divinity III” doesn’t just feel bigger, it is bigger by definition – and that’s why the decision came to expand this story across the Valiant line.
Scott, could you talk about where your tie-in falls in the context of the bigger storyline?
Scott Bryan Wilson: This is the story of New York City actively resisting the Soviets. It hasn’t fallen to the Soviets yet. In the opening pages of the issue, the Soviets make a huge symbolic gesture that Shadowman and the rest of the population of New York don’t take too kindly to, which is what kicks the story off. In terms of a tie-in for the bigger storyline, it’s here where we explore some of Shadowman’s backstory in the Stalinverse, including what got him out of New Orleans and what got him in New York. Then, to a smaller extent, it explores some of the history of Stalin’s Cold War victories and the way he has taken the world.
When I was writing this, I was familiarizing myself with the Cold War, and I started having these nightmares where I would be at a grocery store, and I’d look out the window and see all these Soviets parachuting into the parking lot. There’s this feeling of terror like, ‘Oh my god, we’re being invaded.’ I started thinking about that and I got emotional from the perspective of how a common person would feel during that, to be taken over like that. I really try to encapsulate those feelings in an emotional aspect as well. Which isn’t to say that this is a brooding, cerebral book. There is plenty of completely unhinged mayhem as well.
KA: The reason that I went to Scott is that I know Scott has this great mind for history. One of the earliest things we talked about with the Stalinverse concept was the chance to have a lot of fun with an alternate history. Scott touches on things that we don’t necessarily get to confront in the main book and wanted to have some fun with. There’s definitely touch points in the past 60 years since the Cold War started that we show an alternate version of. Scott is also focusing on this both self-contained and focused on what makes Shadowman specifically interesting in this overall world. And at the same time, there is a beat at the end of the book that directly ties in with something you see early on in “Divinity III: Stalinverse.”Continued below
Valiant fans know Shadowman well; how do you go about bringing together the aspects the fans know and love about him, while turning him into a different character to fit into this alternate universe?
KA: I’ll let Scott talk about his approach to the character in this specific instance, but I think that what is great is that because the Valiant fans know Shadowman so well, events like this help us stretch the concept and offer new interpretations of it. We highlight existing characteristics of it that maybe weren’t touched on before, and illuminate aspects of the character to not only existing readers, but someone who maybe hasn’t read the Shadowman series. They can see this aspect of the character’s personality and think to themselves: this is a character, I want to read more of. This is actually a great jumping-on point too.
SBW: Basically, I was looking for those moments of frailty and strength in the human elements of the character like Kyle said; sort of illuminating those. That’s the approach I took, looking at Jack’s internal struggles and anxiety that he’s dealing with while living in this oppressed state. Of course, he becomes Shadowman and all hell breaks loose. I’m sorting of looking at those two aspects of it, the very intense, cerebral side of things and then the character who is just kicking ass.
Scott, you’re a newcomer to the Valiant world. Before you started work on this, were you a big Valiant fan? Do you have any favorite Shadowman stories?
SBW: I am a Valiant fan. They have some of the greatest characters in comics. But as a writer and comics fan, something I appreciate is the visual aspect of the books. There’s an aesthetic they have that is quite beautiful, especially in the “Divinity” series. A lot of the books, they have a sort of aesthetic that you don’t see in mainstream comics, which is a benefit you don’t see in normal stories. You get to work on something a little different. In terms of Shadowman, I really like how it lets you combine genres. You can take superhero genre and mix it with the horror or sci-fi genre. For specific stories, I like the Garth Ennis run, and I like Peter Milligan’s run on the latest series. Those were a lot of fun.
Kyle, Shadowman is a character who has operated sort of on the fringe lately, after having a solo series early on in the Valiant relaunch, what is it about that character that works outside of his own series, or are there plans to bring Shadowman back to his own series soon?
KA: I don’t think it’s that Shadowman works better outside his own series, I think it’s that he’s such a bedrock of Valiant. If you were to look that core pillars of the universe, he’s definitely one of them. He holds down the supernatural side of things, the magic side of things along with Doctor Mirage, but even she sort of sprung out of that corner originally.
I think it’s twofold, because he’s a bedrock of the universe, and a lot of our creators love to use him and put them in their stories. I think that’s why you’ve seen him so much over the years. You’ve seen him in “4001 A.D.” and you’ve seen him in “Ninjak.”” Everybody has ideas about how to use him. Including Matt Kindt, which is the reason why he’s taking on such an important role in the “Divinity III” event, alongside Stalinverse versions of other top-tier heroes like Bloodshot and X-O Manowar – both of whom we’ll see take on a big role in Scott’s story as well.
As for an ongoing, if you’ve been watching closely, you’d know that Jack has played a significant role in “Ninjak” over the past year and that that is no accident…
The Soviet Union has been used as many times as villains in comic books, particularly in the superhero genre, decades after the fall, what creatively still resonates with you? Do you worry that those who weren’t around during the Soviet Union won’t respond to this series?Continued below
SBW: I remember when the Berlin Wall came down. I was in middle school, but thinking back on that now and thinking about the Berlin Wall coming down in the Stalinverse, what would that mean? I think that these themes of oppression and control and egoism and having a despot in charge. The things that we generally associate with communism are still backed by fear. So these ideas that you get from the Stalinverse or from The Cold War, you don’t necessarily have to be a student of history to understand or follow.
KA: As someone who didn’t grow up during The Cold War, I think it definitely still resonates for a lot of the reason that Scott talks about. A lot of this stuff is timeless, and once you know the basics of the Cold War I think it holds a lot of intrigue. It’s also great for comics, because it is also one of those rare times in history where you have two very defined sides. I think what people are struggling with right now in the world is that there’s not one thing we’re all commonly against. We’re very splintered and everyone has niche concerns and things like that. The Cold War is interesting in its simplicity. There’s the United States and there’s the Communists. It’s very easy to tell stories with two sides and then make it work so that it speaks to the fears and anxieties that we have in the present day.
SBW: The Cold War has been mined with material for 60 to 70 years now, and we’re still finding fresh ways to approach that. It’s just kind of a universal understanding of clearly defined good guys and very clearly defined bad guys.
The Stalinverse has a shared look between all the books; how involved were all the editors and artists visually in putting the look of the different books together?
KA: I think as editors, especially at Valiant, we try to make sure that the framework and the rules we set up for our fiction are consistent. Fiction, even though it is made up, needs to have its own rules. As long as we follow those rules so it feels consistent, you can immerse yourself into it. I think that’s what we’re looking to do. I think that we work with creative people and artists and we hire them specifically to bring their own unique style and voice to things. It’s why even though this is a singular event, we have artists as different as Trevor Hairsine and Clayton Crain or Robert Gill. We’re using Valiant’s full roster for this thing because underneath the concept, we want to look at it from different lenses and prisms. The artists help bring that, rather than make it all homogenized. We’re exploring the diversity of the roster to show how rich a concept this could be.
Could you talk about what we could expect to see from artist Robert Gill? He’s a Valiant staple and I’m sure we’re going to see some more cool work from him in this one-shot.
KA: We hired Robert because I knew that’s what the story called for. I knew Robert would be perfect following his runs on “Book of Death,” “X-O Manowar,” and “Armor Hunters: Harbinger,” which is one of my favorite series, visually, of all time. The double-page spreads and the sheer epic scope that Robert brought to the series is going to be called upon for this, which is what makes him the perfect artist. I have worked with Robert before and I couldn’t be happier to have him for this specific project. It was written for him.
Valiant’s Stalinverse Curses DIVINITY III: SHADOWMAN AND THE BATTLE OF NEW STALINGRAD #1 – Coming in February!
This winter, freedom fights from the shadows…
Valiant is proud to announce DIVINITY III: SHADOWMAN & THE BATTLE OF NEW STALINGRAD #1 – an essential standalone tale from the Stalinverse from rising star Scott Bryan Wilson (Batman Annual) and Valiant-exclusive superstar Robert Gill (BOOK OF DEATH)!
The year is 2017…and, in the Communist-occupied streets of New York City, oppression and violence lurk in every shadow. But when the global Soviet Union targets the Statue of Liberty for destruction, there will be Hell to pay…and Jack Boniface has come to collect. As Shadowman, Jack will resurrect the sacred power of his people…and raise an army of the dead to meet the Russians where they stand. But even Shadowman’s revenant freedom force will find something to fear when the brutal Komandar Bloodshot and unstoppable Aric, Son of the Revolution arrive to crush liberty’s last sparks of life…and put down the dead forever!Continued below
“This is the story of New York City actively resisting the Soviets… In the opening pages of the issue, the Soviets make a huge symbolic gesture that Shadowman and the rest of the population of New York don’t take too kindly to, which is what kicks the story off,” writer Scott Bryan Wilson told Multiversity. “It’s here where we explore some of Shadowman’s backstory in the Stalinverse, including what got him out of New Orleans and what got him in New York.”
To save the devastated and oppressed island of New York, Jack Boniface might just have to annihilate it first – by leading an army of Deadside-spawned monstrosities onto the streets to fight the Soviets’ super-powered shock troops wherever they stand. But freedom fighters like the one they call Shadowman seldom get the happy ending they deserve…
On February 8th, darkness falls over America’s last bastion of freedom! Out of the shadows, a new kind of hero will rise as Scott Bryan Wilson and Robert Gill summon the Deadside in DIVINITY III: SHADOWMAN & THE BATTLE OF NEW STALINGRAD #1 – featuring covers from Clayton Crain (4001 A.D.), Marco Rudy (Uncanny X-Men), Diego Bernard (NINJAK), Trevor Hairsine (DIVINITY II) and Kano (Daredevil)!
But first: It all begins on December 21st as the Iron Curtain rises over a once-free world in DIVINITY III: STALINVERSE #1 (of 4) – the FIRST ISSUE of the winter’s major comics event from the visionary creative team of New York Times best-selling writer Matt Kindt (4001 A.D.), blockbuster artist Trevor Hairsine (X-Men: Deadly Genesis), Harvey Award-nominated inker Ryan Winn (X-O MANOWAR) and master colorist David Baron (BLOODSHOT REBORN, Planetary)!
At the height of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union were racing to the stars. But, while America was aiming for the moon, Russia had its eyes on the cosmos. In secret, they launched a three-man mission into the far reaches of space. In the depths, they discovered something Unknown. Something that…changed them. Imbued with god-like powers, the long-lost cosmonauts returned home…only to discover that their old ideology, communism, lost the war to western capitalism in the decades since their journey first began. But now they have the power to change it all…
Earth has a new god. The world you know is gone. Welcome to the Stalinverse, comrade.
Then: The Stalinverse’s subversive spread continues with the first of four essential one-shots torn directly from the pages of DIVINITY III: STALINVERSE #1 (of 4) on December 28th as New York Times best-selling writer Jeff Lemire (BLOODSHOT REBORN, Death of X) and superstar artist Clayton Crain (4001 A.D.) re-assign the KGB’s deadliest covert operative from Mother Russia to the mountains of Colorado in DIVINITY III: KOMANDAR BLOODSHOT #1!
Next, on January 18th, join the cause of Soviet righteousness as Valiant’s leading legend – the unstoppable X-O Manowar – becomes the supreme fighting force of the CCCP in DIVINITY III: ARIC, SON OF THE REVOLUTION #1 from acclaimed writer Joe Harris (Snowfall, The X-Files: Season 10) and Valiant-exclusive superstar David Lafuente (Ultimate Spider-Man)!
Look for more top-secret DIVINITY III one-shots detailing the redacted history of the Soviet Union’s most notorious patriots, agitators, and outcasts as the Stalinverse rewrites the Valiant Universe all winter long!
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DIVINITY III: STALINVERSE #1 (of 4)
Written by MATT KINDT
Art by TREVOR HAIRSINE
Cover A by JELENA KEVIC-DJURDJEVIC (OCT161948)
Cover B by TOM MULLER (OCT161949)
Variant Cover by JEFFREY VEREGGE (OCT161952)
Variant Cover by GREG SMALLWOOD (OCT161953)
Variant Cover by ADAM GORHAM (OCT161954)
Blank Cover Also Available (OCT161950)
Valiant Cat Cosplay Variant Also Available (OCT161951)
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | VALIANT PRESTIGE | T+ | On sale DECEMBER 21 (FOC – 11/28/16)
DIVINITY III: KOMANDAR BLOODSHOT #1
Written by JEFF LEMIRE
Art by CLAYTON CRAIN
Cover A by CLAYTON CRAIN (OCT161955)
Cover B by RYAN BODENHEIM (OCT161956)
Cover C by GREG SMALLWOOD (OCT161957)
Character Design Variant by TREVOR HAIRSINE (OCT161958)
Variant Cover by KANO (OCT161959)
$3.99 US | 32 pgs. | T+ | ONE-SHOT | On sale DECEMBER 28 (FOC – 12/5/16)
DIVINITY III: STALINVERSE #2 (of 4)
Written by MATT KINDT
Art by TREVOR HAIRSINE
Cover A by JELENA KEVIC-DJURDJEVIC (NOV161921)
Cover B by TOM MULLER (NOV161922)
Variant Cover by JEFFREY VEREGGE (NOV161923)
Variant Cover by GREG SMALLWOOD (NOV161924)
Variant Cover by ADAM GORHAM (NOV161925)
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | VALIANT PRESTIGE | T+ | On Sale JANUARY 25 (FOC – 1/5/16)
DIVINITY III: ARIC, SON OF THE REVOLUTION #1
Written by JOE HARRIS
Art by DAVID LAFUENTE
Cover A by CLAYTON CRAIN
Cover B by DIEGO BERNARD
Cover C by CAFU
Character Design Variant by TREVOR HAIRSINE
Variant Cover by KANO
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | ONE-SHOT | On sale JANUARY 18 (FOC – 12/26/16)
DIVINITY III: STALINVERSE #3 (of 4)
Written by MATT KINDT
Art by TREVOR HAIRSINE
Cover A by JELENA KEVIC-DJURDJEVIC
Cover B by TOM MULLER
Variant Cover by JEFFREY VEREGGE
Variant Cover by GREG SMALLWOOD
Variant Cover by ADAM GORHAM
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | VALIANT PRESTIGE | T+ | On Sale FEBRUARY 22 (FOC 1/30/17
DIVINITY III: SHADOWMAN & THE BATTLE OF NEW STALINGRAD #1
Written by SCOTT BRYAN WILSON
Art by ROBERT GILL
Cover A by CLAYTON CRAIN
Cover B by MARCO RUDY
Cover C by DIEGO BERNARD
Character Design Variant by TREVOR HAIRSINE
Variant Cover by KANO
$3.99 | 32 pgs | T+ | ONE-SHOT | On Sale FEBRUARY 8 (FOC – 1/16/17)