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Review Brew: Divinity III: Escape from Gulag 396 #1

Writer: Eliot Rahal, Matt Kindt
Artist: Francis Portela, Juan Jose Ryp
Colors: Andrew Dalhouse
Publisher: Valiant Comics
Price: $3.99

With the world under the control of the Soviet Union, we take a look at what has happened to the dynamic duo of Archer and Armstrong. If you’re looking for super elaborate escape plan for the characters to get out, this isn’t it. Writer Eliot Rahal takes a different approach to the pair, and gives us insight into their outlook of this alternate world. Through the use of narration, we learn about how Archer ends up in Gulag 396. It’s quite tragic how it happens, and makes you get invested in Archer as a character. He is man of faith, but lives in a world where religious persecution exists. Archer holds on to his faith, and holds out hope that one day, he can be free.

I love the interactions between Archer and Armstrong, and how the two view their situation. Archer is hopeful, and Armstrong is hopeless, but that doesn’t stop Archer from trying to bring hope to him. It adds some humor to the title, and ends on quite the twist. The dialog was good, and brings in small changes to the characters. The interaction between Archer and Armstrong were handled well, and seeing the two not as friends, was a significant change. The only complaint I have is that there wasn’t enough Armstrong.

Francis Portela’s artwork is great, and manages to create some great atmosphere within the title. Characters are drawn well, and given a haggard look to them, especially Armstrong. The scenes of Archer before he enters the Gulag are beautiful, and yet haunting. I like how Portela brings in elements of Archer and Armstrong’s look from the main reality into this alternate one. Archer still has his signature star on his shirt, but modified on his prison attire. The one thing that bothered me was how most of the characters had squared jaws. I noticed it a lot with the male characters. Panel layouts flow well, and keep you engaged in the story at hand. Andrew Dalhouse’s colors are solid, and makes the title look gorgeous. There are a few panels in the issue, wherein the colors just have an angelic glow to them.

Like the other one-shots that have been coming out alongside Divinity III, we learn the origins of the Pioneer, written by Matt Kindt. A new character that has been featured in Divinity III: Stalinverse, and is a member of the Soviet Union’s Red Guard. The story was fine, and her origin was interesting, but there was a lot of exposition. I do like how these backup stories expand this new reality, but I feel this one was a little weak compared to the others. The art by Juan Ryp is fantastic, and colors by Andrew Dalhouse are terrific.

Overall a solid issue for a one-shot, but I did have a few minor gripes in it.

4 Lonely Armstrong’s out of 5

About Ray W (151 Articles)
Ray was born in the early 90's. He loves movies, comics, manga, anime, and 3D modeling. His favorite anime are: Ghost in the Shell, Psycho-Pass, Parasyte, Hellsing, Gundam Wing, G Gundam, Petshop of Horrors, Heroman, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Golgo 13, Saint Seiya, Ultimate Muscle, Baki the Grappler, Soul Eater, Wolf's Rain, Outlaw Star, S-Cry-D, Blue Gender, Ronin Warriors, Sailor Moon, Evangelion, Gatchaman, Speed Racer, and Dragon Ball Z. He is also an avid gamer with his all time favorite being Ratchet and Clank series,
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