12-Year-Old Twin Leaders of Burma’s “God’s Army” Inspired Twin Graphic Novelists

Tomer and Asaf Hanuka fictionalize the Htoo brothers in “The Divine.”


The fictionalized Htoo twins. Tomer and Asaf Hanuka

The Divine, the beautifully rendered new graphic novel from Israeli artist twins Tomer and Asaf Hanuka—creators of the comic book series Bipolar—and writer Boaz Lavie, was born of a photo.

In 2000, AP photographer Apichart Weerawong snapped an iconic shot of Johnny and Luther Htoo, 12-year-old twins who smoked cheroot cigars and led “God’s Army,” a Karen rebel faction, against Burma’s junta. Land mines, lore had it, unearthed themselves at the twins’ approach, and their soldiers were impervious to bullets.

Transfixed, the artists adapted the boys as protagonists. Their Avatar-esque story follows a pair of US mercenaries on a mission to destroy a mountaintop in fictional “Quanlom,” where they encounter a kid wolfpack aided by a dragon spirit. The real Htoo twins are grown-ups now, but “for us,” the authors write, “they will always be 12-year-olds in a photo we’ll never quite understand.”

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you'll agree is worth supporting.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you’ll agree is worth supporting.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate