In the last few years, you'd think Matt Kindt hated the characters of the Valiant Universe ... if you didn't know he loved them so much. He's really put these heroes through the ringer, introducing the new character Divinity and his cohorts, rewriting the entire Valiant timeline and generally making everyone in that world question reality. Now, he's going another step further and introducing the gods of this world.
In Eternity, the prestige-format follow-up to Divinity, Divinity II and Divinity III (Stalinverse), Matt Kindt, Trevor Hairsine, Ryan Winn and David Baron -- the entire creative team of the previous stories -- return for a new epic that's "as big and crazy as [they] can make it." Journeying back into the unknown for something lost (no, Kindt wouldn't tell us what), Divinity and Myshka are back for what could be their final adventure.
We sat down with Kindt for all the hints we could squeeze out of him, and he brought along seven interior pages by Hairsine, Winn and Baron in this exclusive preview, plus the covers to Eternity #1 by Jelena Kevic-Djurjevic and Trevor Hairsine and that sweet wraparound you see above by Felipe Massafera.
Check out the interview, and make sure to scroll all the way down to the gallery of all-new exclusive art! Eternity #1 is on sale October 25.
The Valiant Universe is already one of alien power suits, dark dimensions, psiots with powers of all stripes and genetically engineered super soldiers. Why is now the time to also have extra-dimensional gods?
Matt Kindt: This was always the plan with Divinity. When the first arc of Divinity came out, I had written an outline for those first four issues, but I had also written an outline for three additional books that ended up being Divinity II, III and now Eternity. So the time for extra-dimensional gods was really dictated by destiny (and the speed at which Trevor, Ryan, and David, and I could get the pages done).
You pointed out in the announcement of Eternity that its Kirby influence is both obvious and acknowledged/intentional. As a creator who’s worked a lot in sci-fi comics, you’ve obviously been influenced by Jack Kirby before -- what’s the difference for you here in doing so consciously?
It's a narrow path we're walking. As a creator, I’m really tired of modern Kirby pastiches and homages. I appreciate them – and enjoy them to a degree – but I don’t really think the world needs another one of those. Getting back to your first question, I think now is the time for this, not just because it worked with Valiant’s publishing schedule, but I think that I’ve lived long enough (I’m 43 years old) and have read enough comics that I can finally bring something to that kind of Kirby cosmic subgenre – with a maturity and perspective to it that the 20-year-old me wouldn’t have been able to.
As much as it’s a Kirby influence, I also found a lot of inspiration from the old Gold Key characters too ... a lot of those sort of dinosaur-age books and those really off-beat characters that haven’t been seen for 60 years or so. Trying to figure out a way to bring some of that fun and those ideas back into a modern context was a fun challenge as a writer.
I know you’ve shown off some teases of the characters -- what can you tell us about the point-of-view character or characters in Eternity? How do you want readers to relate to these godly creatures?
We’re really going to approach "The Unknown" – which is the pocket universe (for lack of a better or more concise term) through Divinity’s eyes. He, along with Myshka, end up going there on a quest to find something important that they’ve lost – a spoiler I won’t reveal here. And so we are sort of flipping the weirdness in this series. Where Divinity was once the sort of object of curiosity and mystery, we now get to follow along with him as a true protagonist and explore The Unknown from his point of view.
As an artist yourself, how do you think that changes your collaboration with an art team? Obviously you and Trevor, Ryan and David have been working together for a while now, so what kind of shorthand and work style have you all developed together?
I can’t tell you how much better it’s made our run. The continuity of creative talents on the book was really key – it was key to keeping the story really personal and relatable. I think we could have really lost the handle on this thing if we had brought anyone else in. This is truly a unified vision – a true collaboration between all of us. It’s the first time I’ve really felt like I was in the comic book version of a band – where instead of a drummer and bass and lead guitar, we’ve got ink and pencils and color and letters. And we sort of feed off of each other’s energy – by working together this long, I’ve been able to leave space for Trevor and the guys to push and the shape the book as much as I have. I love writing scripts with crazy descriptions and sort of vague references and then letting Trev run with it and interpret that into something ... It’s amazing to see as the pages come in.
Here’s a sample panel description from issue 1 (with some spoiler-y stuff redacted):
DOUBLE PAGE SPREAD:
There are giant statue hands – maybe six sets of them at least -- holding up a platform that is a giant closed book (also cosmic concrete – cracked and pitted with age. On this giant hand/book pedestal – we see the steps leading up to a monolith – a tall pillar – long and narrow – but wide – like a book standing up – spine facing out – the steps leading up to the top of the spine of this "book." We see XXXXXXXXX small dead on the steps – super small in this spread to really show the sense of scale – and XXXXXXXXX running down – to the bottom of the steps now – all around this and in the background – there’s energy and cosmic sky and planets and anything insane you want to put out there – this is the vantage point where XXXXXXX watches both sides of the "Unknown" and all past, present and future. Maybe some giant lenses or telescope looking devices that stretch up into the space and energy ... really this can’t be NUTS enough --- go crazy on this and all the pages that take place in the Unknown – just fill it with energy and devices and science and patterns and monsters. You’re the star of these four issues for sure. I’m gonna try to give you as much room as you want/need to play.
The colors here should be insane – psychedelic – neon inks if we could get ‘em – let’s make this looking like it needs a black-light!
Okay, I have to ask a specific question about the preview art I’ve seen -- that two-page spread with massive hands reaching up from the ground -- it’s so gloriously trippy. You probably can’t explain that image much, so just tell me this, how crazy are you going to be going with this series?
Ha ha! I literally answered the last question before reading this -- and picked that panel description! [Editor's note: DIVINE intervention, you could say. Get it?]
It’s going to be as big and crazy as we can make it -- BUT -- with purpose. There are real characters with real heart in this thing, and it’s not weird for weirdness’ sake. There is method and meaning to all of the madness and a sort of larger idea that won’t really come into focus until the fourth issue. There are a lot of themes and ideas that we set up in the first Divinity series that are going to mirror and play off of this series. The themes of fiction and stories and how they impact our thoughts and life decisions -- all of that end up being played out on a large psychedelic canvas in this series. It’s what everything has been building to for the last couple of years.