Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Glory, Volume 1: The Once and Future Destroyer

In the 1990s, Glory was a thinly disguised Wonder Woman clone with an impossibly thin waist published by Image Comics. Her series was heavy on the cheesecake poses, as you can see from the following cover:

Exhibit A
Last year, however, the series underwent a serious overhaul, both visually and stylistically, and Glory was depicted as a brawny, scarred warrior queen. Just check out the cover for this collection:

That's Glory in the middle.
I have to admit I had only read one Glory comic book before now, and it was written by the much-celebrated Alan Moore, but I cannot for the life of me remember anything about it. This book makes a pretty big impression. The plot follows the exploits of Gloriana Demeter, the offspring of an Amazon and a Demon (here shown as alien races). She straddles both races, but eventually chooses to lead neither and breaks from her parents to become a protector of Earth. Her exploits began in World War II, but when this book begins it is set in the present day where Glory has been missing for years. A young Asian reporter named Riley has an uncanny lifelong connection to the superheroine, constantly dreaming of her and tracking her across the globe. She finds what she's looking for in an extremely off-the-beaten-path locale, and nothing turns out as she thinks.

I don't want to spoil things too much, but there are many twists and turns, and each chapter ended with a cliffhanger that kept me wanting to read more. The Once and Future Destroyer is serial comics at their most enticing and engaging.

This book, which accounts for half of this particular Glory saga, was the co-creation of Joe Keatinge and Ross Campbell. Keatinge is a writer known for his new superhero-themed series Hell Yeah as well as co-editing the Eisner and Harvey Award winning anthology Popgun. Campbell is an artist and writer known for his goth-horror-comedy series Wet Moon, his webcomic Shadoweyes, as well as his atmospheric and deft drawing abilities. You could drop the "l" from the series name to describe the action and battle scenes, but Campbell also excels at portraying the quiet character moments as well. Here is an interview with both creators speaking about their collaboration.

This book has received much positive attention and has appeared on many Best of 2012 lists. Publishers Weekly captured much of the flavor of reviews I have read and praised both creators' contributions to this book, "Campbell's art is stunning, creating a female hero who is physically intimidating in a way never seen in superhero comics and creating worlds both familiar and fantastically bizarre, and characters ranging from friendly old French bartenders to armies of individually distinct demon-like creatures from another world. Keatinge's story gives instant depth to its complex characters and excels at slowly presenting a more and more complex narrative spanning thousands of years and several worlds and cultures."

The Once and Future Destroyer is published by Image Comics. This review from samax amen provides some preview pages. Campbell also provides a number of preview images and summaries from each chapter of this book at his website.

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