Glory #23

Written by Joe Keatinge
Art by Sophie Campbell
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

Of the various rebooting of Rob Liefeld’s Extreme Studios properties, it was Glory that simultaneously had the least and most potential. It’s the one that has the least-interesting character hook—it’s a thinly veiled rendition of Wonder Woman—and what little we saw of even Alan Moore’s take on the character wasn’t that exciting. At the same time, though, it meant that Joe Keatinge and Sophie Campbell would have the most room to play with Glory and transform her into something interesting. And so far? Well, similarity to another comic aside, this is the most interesting I’ve found Glory, ever.

Keatinge reintroduces us to Glory’s history in this first issue; the union of two warring groups of gods that look like a merger of tribal peoples and aliens, then coming to Earth to fight in World War II alongside Supreme, and staying to continue to try and make the world a better place. Keatinge also brings new character Riley into the mix, a journalism student who used to dream of Glory and now is researching the missing heroine for her thesis. In doing so, Riley travels to France, meets Glory’s former human host, and begins to discover just where Glory’s been missing all of these years.

The elephant in the room with Glory #23 is something that can’t help but be addressed: this first chapter bears a certain similarity to Alan Moore and J.H. Williams III’s Promethea. The hero who’s existed from over the years, the student researching the missing figure, the hero who is bonded with an average person, the former host talking to the young student… To be fair, all of these are iconic story hooks, and some of them existed from the original Glory comic. And these are early days for the Keatinge and Campbell Glory, and anything could happen from here. So while I’m not knocking Glory #23 for its similarity to Promethea #1, it is something that needs to be acknowledged before you can move on and enjoy Glory #23 in its own right.

With that out of the way, I thought Keatinge did a nice job with his first issue of Glory, thanks to a certain elegance in his narration. Riley under Keatinge’s scripting feels like a real person that we’ve known for ages, not a brand-new character that we’ve seen for just a handful of pages. The yearning present from Riley when it comes to Glory, and trying to recapture those dreams and form new ones, feels much more tangible in a matter of panels than character motivations from other entire graphic novels. The pacing is good here too; we’re told everything at just the right time, never overloaded with exposition but never left wanting either. Shifting the setting to Mont St. Michel is a lovely change of scenery for a superhero comic, too; it somehow makes this feel like a more global, grand-scale kind of story unfolding.

Just as many kudos need to go to Campbell, whose work on comics like Shadoweyes and Wet Moon has always been impressive. Here, Campbell brings both the exotic and the mundane to life. The world of the gods and goddesses that Glory comes from feels much more graphic than I remember from many years ago; the strange forms that the non-humans are in, mixed with those who look more recognizable but full of tribal markings and dressings. Whenever we see the demons and monsters that Glory herself fights, they seem unreal and dangerous, and it makes whatever’s lurking in the darkness for Riley and company that much more scary as a result. At the same time, Campbell draws the people of our world in a wonderfully real manner. People have a solid heft to them; they come across as full-figured and real (and no, these are not euphemisms for being overweight). Even something as simple as the thick locks of hair of Glory’s, blowing in the breeze, feels tangible under Campbell’s pencil, and it’s a great look.

Just like the return of Prophet earlier this year, Glory #23 is a genuine hit. For the first time, I feel like this character is really working, and Keatinge and Campbell have a great opportunity here to take Glory into interesting places. What happens next? Well, that’s up to them, but I’m quite curious to see it for myself. A strong opening chapter. Check it out.

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