March 24, 2012

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Glory 23 and 24

Written by Joe Keatinge
Illustrated by Sophie Campbell
Image

The child of a fragile peace, Gloriana is a mighty warrior from an alien world that travels to earth to right the wrongs she finds.  But what happened to this hero, after she seemingly falls off the face of the earth?  It's a mystery for many, including a young woman who dreamed of Glory for years.  What is their connection?  What's happening on Glory's homeworld?  And can Glory return in time to prevent devastation and disaster for not just her planet, but for Earth as well?  There's mystery and misery within the first two issues of the return for Glory.

I vaguely remember this series in its original incarnation, though I never read it. I probably wouldn't have even tried it this time, except that the story was getting excellent word of mouth from other comics bloggers that I respect.  They praised the art and story and showing a strong female superhero that can hold her own against male counterparts in her world, and I was intrigued.  Though it's early yet in the story, I'm very happy with the comic so far.

Using the girl who dreams of Glory, Riley Barnes, and a clever sequence that shows Glory won't back down to anyone, even Liefeld's Superman analogue, Supreme, Keatinge gives the reader everything they need to know about Glory without making it feel like an information dump.  We get a quick origin recap, see that she's a loner by nature, and know that she's even theoretically had zany Silver age style adventures along with bloodier, modern struggles, all done in appropriate styles by Campbell that match the setups perfectly.  I even love the idea that the world believes Glory to be as dead as her comic book was, subtly implying that characters die if they aren't being published.  It's a nice meta touch without being obnoxious about it.

The first issue ends with a fake out before the big reveal, as Keatinge deftly avoids an expected cliche and we're set for the second issue, where we learn why Glory is not quite her usual self.  As Glory and Riley prepare to move forward, we learn a bit more about what has happened while Glory's adventures weren't being chronicled.  There's still a mystery surrounding why Glory was on the island, and what her connection is to the people there, but there's a bigger picture that's starting to form.  Glory needs an army, and one of her soldiers is..a fragile-looking young woman?  Before we can explore that plot point, however, Keatinge has another last-page reveal, one that's even more shocking than the first and could change Glory's life forever.

Keatinge is not a writer I'm very familiar with.  This is my first experience with his writing, but I have to say I'm really impressed so far.  He has a great sense of pacing, with each issue feeling like it's more than the twenty-some odd pages that it contains.  Keatinge packs as much as he can into the story, like superhero comics used to do.  There are still splash pages and things, but when I read this, I feel like I'm really being given a whole story, not just pictures with a few bits of dialog.  I also love the way that each issue feels like it  is written to be read as a single, with two amazing big reveals on the final page.  One of the reasons I went to trade-reading is because so many comics felt like arcs, not issues.  Glory feels like issues, and they're good issues, to boot.

When I last read a Sophie Campbell book, it was one of the ill-fated Minx books, where Campbell's sexualized stylings of women felt out of place, especially since the characters weren't meant to be adults.  Here, however, her art works very well.  Her decision to make Glory look like a powerful person with feminine attributes instead of a supermodel is a welcome change.  When Glory takes out a tank while ripping a person's arm off or stares down Supreme, it's believable.  I also like that of the four women we've seen so far, none of them look alike.  Glory is musclebound, her mother is strong but more feminized, the bartender is more like your average attractive person, and Riley is drawn to be a diminutive type, making her scenes with Glory look all the more striking when they're together.

The overall look of Glory is rough around the edges, which I think works well for the story Keatinge is trying to tell.  There are very few smooth lines, except on the characters, which sets them off from the backgrounds.  In addition, the backgrounds are fully-formed, with Cambell taking the time to include little details, like how an electrical cord might not be uniform from start to finish or ensuring we can see every mortar line in a concrete wall.  Campbell's art is a big reason why Glory works for me, and I can better see now why she's popular with bloggers whom I respect.

I have no idea what Rob Liefeld thinks of the new Glory.  I also wonder a bit about how these are structured, as work for hire isn't Image's usual style.  I hope that Glory's new story is finished, because it's a very good story, and so far is one of the best written about a female character that I've encountered.  If you stayed away from this because of Liefeld, don't.  Glory is a great, female-positive comic that is well worth being added to your pull list, either paper or digital.  Start reading now.  I think you'll be glad you did.