Comic Book Fix: A Glorious Reboot
Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 February 2012 01:43 Written by david golbitz Wednesday, 22 February 2012 11:00
The mid-to-late 1990s saw an explosion in what I can only call the “Liefeld-ization” of the comic book industry. Every company, it seemed, was moving toward huge, overly-muscled he-men who wielded BFGs the size of small cars, and scantily-clad, anorexically thin women with water balloon breasts bigger than their heads. This phenomenon didn’t necessarily begin with Rob Liefeld and his Image Comics cohorts, but they certainly popularized it. Anti-heroes and “bad girls” were all the rage. Story and characterization gave way to pinup girls (and boys) and bombastic explosions. The industry was flush with cash and bereft of ideas.
But sometime around the turn of the century, story once again took center stage. Guns and breasts shrunk (though not by much) and character-driven storytelling returned. New writers and new artists created new characters and the Age of Liefeld (and friends) slowly receded from memory, save for a few nostalgia-tinged moments when one just had to flip through old issues of WildC.A.T.s and Youngblood. But there comes a time when everything old is new again and years-old properties get dusted off, repackaged and resold to a new audience. Some of these efforts land with a resounding THUD, but not all. Some, in fact, surpass the template upon which they resurrected. But who knew that two of the best, most interesting reboots would come from the House That Liefeld Built, Extreme Studios.
A month ago I reviewed the first of these impressive relaunched properties, Prophet, about a cryo-frozen supersoldier who slept through his alarm and awoke in a world far removed from anything he ever imagined. Today, click through for my review of the most recent Extreme title to have been born anew, fresher and more fascinating than anything published 15 years ago: Glory.
The comic book industry never needed big guns and big boobs to tell good tales and these comics prove it.
Much like Prophet, I never read Rob Liefeld’s Glory when it was first published. I quickly grew tired of the big guns/big boobs aesthetic of Liefeld’s Extreme Studios, which is not to say those books didn’t have an audience. I was simply not a member of it. But just as Liefeld rebooted the saga of super-soldier John Prophet by delving into the realm of indie comics and plucking out creators not immediately familiar to mainstream comics readers, Brandon Graham and Simon Roy, the same can be said of Glory, an Extreme mash-up of Wonder Woman and Thor. Written by Joe Keatinge and illustrated by Ross Campbell, Glory #23 (inexplicably continuing the numbering from the previous series) can easily be picked up and enjoyed by anyone previously unfamiliar with the character.
Rather than bog down the flow of the story with an expository “what came before” section, Keatinge, editor of the Eisner and Harvey Award-winning anthology series, PopGun, jumps right into the fray, catching the reader up with the basics while pushing the story forward. Within the first few pages, we learn that Glory is the child of her people’s version of Romeo and Juliet,, or perhaps the Hatfields and McCoys, members of two warring factions destined to destroy each other if not for her birth. Glory is meant to unite her people, but as she grows up, she yearns to take part in our world.
The first time we see Glory on Earth, she’s fighting Nazis during World War II. But when an American soldier asks if she is going to come to America when the war is over, Glory declines, declaring, “… I’m not fighting with you for the sake of your country. I’m here to do what I feel’s right.” With this statement, Keatinge lets the reader know that Glory has her own moral compass, that she refuses to be dragged down into the morass of petty international politics. She is above such trivialities. Her concern is for all of humanity, man-made borders be damned.
From there, Keatinge, jumps ahead to the present day and introduces the real protagonist of his story: Riley, a young woman who for some reason began dreaming of Glory when she was a child. Now a journalism major with a thesis to write, Riley has decided to investigate the true nature of the supposedly dead Glory. Riley’s investigation leads her to a small French island, Mont St. Michel, where she meets the island’s lone American resident, Gloria West, who has apparently been expecting her arrival.
Keatinge does a wonderful job of moving the story forward while honoring the character’s past. We see glimpses of Glory’s exploits in flashbacks, dream sequences and the tale Gloria tell Riley, all of which serve to fill in Glory’s background and deepen the mystery of who she was, why she was here and what happened to her. In one of the most amusing sequences, we’re privy to a conversation between Glory and Supreme, the Extreme version of Superman, during which Supreme condescendingly tells Glory he doesn’t trust her and that her “reckless” behavior is “unacceptable.” Glory snaps back, declaring herself above Supreme’s version of morality, and cementing her independent status among Earth’s superpowered beings.
Joining Keatinge on Glory is Eisner Award-nominated artist Ross Campbell, perhaps best known for his Oni Press series of graphic novels, Wet Moon. Campbell’s intricately rendered art is always a joy to behold. He took what used to look like this:
and turned it into this
Campbell turns characters into actors with expressive body postures and detailed faces, and in addition to expertly maintaining the flow of the story from one panel to the next, his artwork is just plain gorgeous.
Between Prophet and now Glory, Extreme Studios is two-for-two in rebooting its characters for a new era. It just goes to show what can happen when you take the reins off and let creators do what they do best.
*Review copies courtesy of Krypton Comics*
Top Picks of the Week
- Dark Horse Presents #9 (Dark Horse), by various writers and artists, including the second chapter of Brian Wood and Kristian Donaldson’s The Massive prologue, and a preview of Caitlin R. Kiernan’s upcoming series, Alabaster
- Near Death Vol. 1 (Image), by Jay Faerber and Simon Guglielmini
- Prophet #22 (Image), by Brandon Graham and Simon Roy
- Wolverine and the X-Men #6 (Marvel), by Jason Aaron and Nick Bradshaw
- Joe Keatinge and Ross Campbell’s ‘Glory’ Lives Up to the Name [Review] (comicsalliance.com)
- Chain Reactions | Glory #23 (robot6.comicbookresources.com)
- REVIEW: “Glory” #23 (comicbookresources.com)
- Ross Campbell Talks Curvy Girls, Sexy Boys And Warrior Women [Sex] (comicsalliance.com)