Hugo Award Nominee for Best Graphic Story (2016)
With a baby on the way and the hope of a promotion in his civilian job, Mark initially declines the offer of an undercover job from Jason, an old army buddy. But when the money is too good, Jason and Mark travel to Quanlom, a Southeast Asian country engaged in a civil war, to blow up a mountain for its minerals. Based on real-life twin brothers Johnny and Luther Htoo, Jason finds ten-year-old twins engaged in the civil war, leading an army with what looks like magic, and worshiping a god that looks a lot like a dragon.
The Divine is a dark and gruesome magical realism tale about ancient powers and modern warfare with environmental and anti-colonial themes. Despite a simplistic story line, the plot is extremely tight, with plenty of subtle foreshadowing that adds credibility and suspense. The artwork is beautiful; the coloring fantastically rich and effective. Who doesn’t enjoy fables and myth woven into the everyday familiar world?
Jason and Mark are the unlikely duo, but together the represent the extremes of American igorance. Mark becomes sympathetic to the local plight, but he remains an objective rational adult. Jason, on the other hand, represents the epitome of bad guy, who’ll kill both child and dragon if they cross him, but to some extent understands the supernatural power.
Recommended for fans of magical realism! Skip to the end first and read the real-life story of twin boys who led a revolution to appreciate how much this tale was shaped by their story.