Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Scott
Every graphic novel starts with a picture and the picture in this case was the 2000 photograph of the Htoo twins; 12 year old cigar smoking poster children, leading a revolution against a Burmese army for the crime of displacing them, and held over 800 people hostage in a hospital, until the Thai army was called in. They came to symbolize children growing up too quickly – 12 year olds who carried the eyes of 50 year olds. Myths and legends formed around them as time went on.
The Divine is a realization of these myths thrown into the less stranger world of fiction, and it does this fantastically well. The writing is brisk, sharp and witty, poignant in places and frivolous where need be. Despite murky lettering, this, for me, was a excellent read. The characterization was handled brilliantly, and the characters stuck in my mind, well after the novel was finished.
The military plot was tight, well handled, and grew with a quickening pace. I could not (and probably would not) find a panel placed for no apparent reason within this work. The dialogue was snappy – sometimes resonating almost a gothically dark tone. I was reminded a lot of the chopped and engaging dialogue of Apocalypse Now.
The art is something to be admired, European in style, but with an southeast oriental twist, the lines were crisp, the inking impeccable and it radiated from the page. The colors fit the mood of the overall story – playing tricks in garish or subdued tones.
My only complaint was the lettering, which didn’t come across as either bold enough or clear enough in some places to even read. Mind you this was a digital edition and the lettering could become a lot clearer in the print version. The thin letters just couldn’t hold up to a digital print. Thankfully, the story was clear enough to get the gist of an off comment.
Combined, the art and writing made the experience for me. This has to be one of the most perfect blends of word and pictures. Captivatingly, the two play with each other and the final result is a modern myth with a moral to tell.
It is not a depiction of real life events, but a pastiche of foreign nationals and the military arm that serves their purpose to increase profit margins at the expense of a few thousand displaced, or decimated lives. Graphically separating these two worlds with color and artistic flair, The Divine is art that should be held in the highest regard.
Fans of Heavy Metal, the movie Apocalypse Now, and lovers of the Southeast Asian art boom, will find a compelling and satisfying experience in this graphic novel; and believe me, you won’t regret it.