Glory was ‘created’ by Rob Liefeld in the early 1990s. I say ‘created’ because apparently Rob Liefeld’s idea of creating something is just to take an already existing character and change the color schemes a bit. Glory was clearly Wonder Woman, just like Supreme was clearly Superman. She was an Amazon warrior who went to go live with mankind. There were some differences: She was half demon and she possessed a woman in order to learn what it meant to be human (probably not doing that). There had to be something different. I’m surprised DC Comics didn’t sue Liefeld off the face of the Earth. They’ve always been so historically good at utterly destroying anything that remotely looks like their characters. Maybe it was ok in the 90s.
It was clear that Liefeld’s Extreme/Awesome Universe was not very well thought out. It took Alan Moore to make Supreme into a clever pastiche of Superman, instead of just a xerox copy of him. He won an Eisner for it! The Fighting American was an old Jack Kirby/Joe Simon character who was brought in to replace Liefeld’s already shut down Captain America stand in, Agent America. A stand in for a stand in. You get the idea. Glory was no different and no better. For a time these comics were popular, but eventually Liefeld ran out of money and everything tanked. Fast forward to 2011 and Image has decided to relaunch some of the Awesome Universe comic book properties without Rob Liefeld. One of them is Glory.
In the opening pages of Glory: The Once and Future Destroyer, Glory states “It’s past time for something new” and while we have Liefeld’s groundwork here, Joe Keatinge (Hell Yeah) and Ross Campbell (Wet Moon) deliver something new and exciting. Glory is no longer derivative, but wholly her own character. If you never heard of Glory before you might be familiar with some of the themes used that might be similar to Wonder Woman, but it’s pretty much coincidental at this point. No longer simply Wonder Woman with white hair, Campbell renders her has a hulking warrior woman. Nothing like Diana at all. The character’s background has been altered as well. Not completely changed, just shifted. She is an alien who’s people were at war for longer than the Earth has existed and she is the child that forged an uneasy peace. Mankind had believed that her mother’s peaceful people were Amazonian Gods, while her father’s violent warriors were confused with Demons. Glory is both God and Demon. She possesses the power to change the world, but also the berserker wrath to destroy it.
For those who might have been familiar with Glory before, this is a brand new era in the life of an old 90s comic book property. Sometimes we need to breathe new life into old things to make them shine like new again. Keatinge and Campbell might as well be creating a character from scratch. They’re not, the book starts with issue #23, but you really don’t need to know that to enjoy this comic. I don’t really know what the original Glory comics were like, but this Glory is bizarre. Prophetic dreams, inter-dimensional portals, strange alien creatures, and a morally ambiguous eponymous character.
Keatinge and Campbell move Glory so far beyond Wonder Woman that there’s nothing inherently feminine about the character at all. She now resembles something closer to the Hulk and her ugly scars and complete lack of female anatomy eliminates anything that could be thought of as distracting. This is a story about a warrior. Instead, the strong female roles are filled by her companions, Riley and Gloria. Riley is depicted as a young girl, though she has to be older, and even though she’s thrust into strange situations before she is prepared to face them, she’s able to stay on top and come to terms with her role in Glory’s life. Gloria, the human Glory once possessed, fights side by side with her ally and is able to hold her own, even if she doesn’t have amazing powers. She is seen killing giant alien attackers with nothing but a knife, and soon just her fists, later she equips herself with a really big gun and takes down a whole slew of enemies. The strong male presence in this story? There’s an old guy who does some shooting, and then there’s Supreme, who makes a few brief abusive appearances. Glory gives him an earful to shut him up in a flashback and then she brutally murders him in a dream sequence. That’s about it.
There are a lot of grotesque moments that are made beautiful by Campbell’s ability to turn everyone into shiny cherubic figures. It’s unfortunate that the book loses that effect when Glory transitions from one colorist to another halfway through the book. Campbell’s art is still just as strong, but the art takes on a very subtle, entirely new effect, which isn’t even bad, just different.
The lack of information makes it difficult to understand exactly where Keatinge is going in his story, but judging by the fact that it is told by a girl who is attempting to research Glory and discover why she went missing, it must be intentional. As she tries to understand Glory, so does the reader. I wouldn’t call this book cerebral, but it definitely requires a little extra thinking to make sense of Gloriana Demeter. The question after reading is if Glory is a hero or a monster. Hopefully Volume Two has the answers. I’ll be waiting.