Saturday, 26 July 2014

Glory Book 1: The Once And Future Destroyer (#23-28)

 "Stop it.  He's dead.  In fact they're all dead. There's nobody left.  It's over" - Gloria

There is an old saying in the north of England where I live that goes "where there's muck, there's brass".  Basically this means if you mess about with something shitty long enough, something good and worthwhile will emerge as a result.  This is a perfect way to sum up how the reboots of the old Rob Liefeld comics Prophet and Glory have taken some incredibly unpromising material and turned them into something completely awesome.  The twelve issue series, Glory is the first one I am going to be looking at, which has been split into two trade paperbacks, both of which I shall be covering.  The early Image characters all tended to be knock-off's of popular DC and Marvel characters and Glory was no exception, being the Extreme (Rob Liefeld's studio under the Image banner) universe's version of Wonder Woman.  She was a half Amazonian princess and half demon, raised by her Amazonian mother as a warrior, yet struggled with her demonic heritage, she travelled to Earth to fight for the Allies in World War II.  Her full name was Gloriana Demeter. After twenty-two issues the title was left languishing in limbo.  An attempt was made to restart the comic under Alan Moore, with a couple of issues published showing Glory had taken on human form under the name Gloria West, but Moore left to work on his own characters under the ABC imprint and Glory had to wait until 2012, when writer Joe Keatinge and and artist Ross Campbell took over and fully retooled Glory's look.  Making her look more like the badass a half Amazon/half demon would look like and less like the sad sexist joke Rob Liefeld had drawn her as.
Glory is the one at the back.  Don't look at her vajayjay! Too late.  You can't unsee now can you?
So I think you can see from the cover of the trade at the top of the page that Glory has undergone something of a makeover.  From being the ridiculous Ms.Cameltoe and her pointless tutu, who can't even hold a sword properly, she's now someone who looks like she could punch a train unconcious.  Which is what you'd expect from a half-demon, half-Amazon who's trained for war over hundreds of years.  The cover of the first issue of the comics new run accentuates this fact.  Interestingly the choice was taken to not start the comics numbering at #1, but continue on from when the 90's series left off.  A somewhat baffling decision considering the Rob Liefeld Glory's will be reprinted never and that a potted history of the Glory is provided in the first reboot issue bringing everyone up to speed anyway.
And you will know me by the trail of the dead.
In all honesty, it's the art that impresses me most about this comic. Keatinge's plotting is good, but his pacing and dialogue are merely adequate.  However I can't praise Ross Campbell's art highly enough.  The bright, colourful lines and strong character and monster designs make it a joy to look at, even when it's at it's most massively gory.  Glory's design has her hugely muscled and she "hulks out" further when her blood lust is at its highest (which is a major plot element later in the story).  But she's also drawn with a delicate, feminine face by contrast which helps make her stay appealing even when she is engaging in the old ultra-violence.

Glory during WW2
The story begins with a quick recap of Glory's origins.  How the leader of the demons and Amazons came together to have a child who would be symbolic of peace between them.  Glory grows up and decides to leave for Earth which has always fascinated her.

Glory: "I do have a purpose. One I've trained for how long? Almost five hundred years.  You've prepared me to lead in times of peace or fight in a war which may never come. Day in, Day out, it's past the time for something new."

We then cut to her helping Allied troops in WW2. She says she is fighting not for a country but for what's right.  We are then introduced to a new character, a young woman called Riley who has been having dreams of Glory's adventures all her life, until the new dreams stopped and the old dreams just looped over and over.  Riley decides to go looking for Glory.

Back in the past, Glory is talking with Supreme.  Supreme was Rob Liefeld's rip-off of Superman, and so the most powerful in his company, Extreme's line up of superheroes (Glory of course being his knock-off Wonder Woman).  Supreme's USP was that he was something of a dick and didn't hesitate in killing bad guys.  Alan Moore, during his time at Image was allowed to reboot Supreme as a Silver Age Superman tribute act, but it seems that Supreme in this comic has gone back to his cynical, Liefeldian roots.  He calls Glory "reckless" and says he doesn't trust her.  Glory points out that she is the off-spring of two races human's would call God's and how she doesn't actually give a damn what Supreme thinks of her.
That told you, dick Superman
Over a recap of more prior adventures of Glory, we get Riley talking about how her search is going, finally ending up in a French town called Mont St. Michel.  There a friend old man called Fabrice introduces her to another American called Gloria.

Gloria: "I know why you're here Riley.  We've been expecting you."

Gloria says she planted every rumour about Glory's whereabouts to lead Riley here. She tells her that one day, Glory decided to try out being human and that she picked Gloria, then a waitress to link with, into a fusion of both of them.

Gloria:  While I still led my regular life, with Glory in my subconcious, she would often take over and well I can't describe how great it was to live as her."

And if you are an Alan Moore fan, you might be thing that it sounds like a rip-off of Promethea.  However, this was Alan Moore's idea for Glory when he was chosen to take over the title.  But before more than a couple of issues were written he defected to ABC comics, and decided that the whole "female warrior Goddess linked to a normal human" was too good an idea not to re-use.

Anyway, one day Glory disappeared for Gloria as well, who also came looking for her and ended up in St.Michel.  She opens a door and shows Glory, badly injured and sleeping.

Gloria: "Some one did something really, really bad to her.  And I think they are coming back."
Gloria, Riley and Glory
Gloria continues that she is not sure what happened to Glory, only that she left Earth because of a promise. We see Glory amongst a pile of monster corpses and then her finding her demon father holding the presumed dead body of her Amazon mother.  She beats the piss out of him.

Then we cut back to Riley and Gloria beside the sleeping Glory.  They both head off for bed, but Glory gets up and and speaks to Riley saying she was beginning to think she wouldn't show.  Then Glory flies Riley to a nearby island where she keeps her arsenal of weapons.  She tells Riley what happened to her, that her people went to war and she began her life as a weapon.
Lord Silverfall versus Glory
Glory: "I was born and bred solely to be an instrument of destruction.  So I fulfilled my purpose.  We won."

Riley: "you don't look like someone who won."

Glory: "I don't feel like it either. The war wasn't without its casualties, including me.  Things didn't go the way I hoped.  That's why your here.  I'm going to war one more time.  The way I want to, not the way I was trained.  I have wrongs to right.  Ones that will change our world for the better."

Riley: "Are you recruiting me?"

Glory: "I am.  You're being recuited into an army.  My army. Wartime is upon us."

The action then turns to Lord Silverfall, the demon king father of Glory.  Pondering what Riley's arrival means.  Then suddenly Glory's mother appears and asks if Glory knows that she is still alive.

The next chapter is mostly made up of a dream Riley has.  Five hundred years later, we see Riley as a very old woman on a spaceship about to land on Mars.  She hires a hoverbike and heads out into the wilderness.  She finally comes across a mutated Glory and they sit together and talk by a fire.  Riley tells her bitterly that the Earth is still the same after she tore it apart during her "war".  We get a flashback to Supreme telling Glory not to continue fighting, and breaking her arm in an effort to get her to stop, she tears his arms off while Riley talks to Glory in the present over this flashback:
Riley's dream of the future
Riley: "You know, it's not just that you ruined out lives for your cause.  It's that you made sure we were left with nothing when you we done.  You abandoned humanity and made sure no one else could save us.  See things never got any better, they only got worse.  Much, much worse."

Riley goes on to say that the demons Glory was protecting them from, gave them technology to help rebuild the shattered Earth. And in the end all Riley accomplished was growing old.

Riley: "You know why I'm here don't you?"

Glory: "Yes. Yes I do.  I'm so sorry."

Then she breaks Riley's neck, killing her.  Then she burns her body while flashing back to the first time they met.  Then Riley wakes up and frantically goes to Gloria telling her she had dreamed of the future.

Riley: "I get it now I know why I am here"

Gloria: "Then you know I didn't bring you here to help Glory.  You're here to stop her."
The civilised Mr. Henry
We cut to the next day and Glory is trying to train Riley to fight.  When they return to the house they meet a strange but polite creature from Thule (Glory's home) called Henry, making a pot of tea.  They chat for a bit then Fabrice turns up saying he is concerned about an elderly couple who have missed a couple of deliveries and that there is blood outside their front door.  Glory and Gloria go to investigate and find the couple have been killed by a demon who states to Glory:

Demon: "You have no idea how long we've been tracking you.  No idea how hopeless your cause.  I suggest you surrender.  You are weak, Godling. Put up a fight if you wish, it is over now."

Glory and Gloria kill it, then search the house, finding a green sphere which sends a blast of light into the air before Glory smashes it. Glory rushes out saying they are all in danger and need to leave the town.  Meanwhile Henry tells Riley that Glory's father has succeded in tracking her down as they also go to make their escape.  As a huge object materialises in the sky, Henry tells Riley that:

Henry: "The war has come early.  Her father's army is already here.  I can't promise you much.  But I can promise you this.  We won't win."
The demon ship arrives
We get another flashabck to Glory's childhood where she is fighting over a toy with a fully Amazon child.  As she gets angry, her demon side manifests itself and it looks like she will kill the other child until her Mum comes and breaks it up, calming Glory down into her normal state.  Back in the present Glory and Gloria fly to the island to get some weapons. Henry and Riley have their escape blocked by more demons and Henry tells Riley she see a side of him she won't like and he transforms into a huge monster while telling her to run.

She gets caught pretty quickly, but Fabrice, who was a sniper in WW2 and served alongside Glory, blows the demon's head off.  Riley makes it over to him, while Glory and Gloria battle a large quantity of monsters.  Finally Glory's demon side takes over, and she loses control in the process.
You won't like me when I'm angry etc.
Gloria defeats the flying monster holding her and drops, but is caught by a back to normal Henry.  They both watch Glory carving her way through the demons, slaughtering everything in a blind rage.

Gloria:  "She's going to end up killing us isn't she?"

Henry: "Of course she is.  That's what she does."

Back with Riley and Fabrice, they are escaping across the island beach in a moterbike and sidecar.  Fabrice fights off demons until he runs out of bullets and the demon chasing them rips him apart.  The demon advances on a tearful Riley and grabs her.

Demon: "You don't get what's happening her do you?  Gloriana Demeter is one of the most dangerous beings in all existence.  She is a weapon long overdue for de-commissioning. A threat to both our worlds.  You're the opposite.  You're something the world needs to survive,  Something she'll destroy. So no, we're not here to kill you.  We're here to save you.  This is a rescue mission."
Who needs clothes when there are demons to pwn.
Riley is resistant to this idea, saying they didn't need to tear up the town and kill people she cared about in the process.  The demon makes to take her away, but is suddenly blown to pieces by a giant, winged cat shooting lasers out of it's eyes (it looks awesome, but it's a two page spread and I couldn't fit it on my scanner).  It gently licks Riley, showing it to be a friend.  Then Gloria and Henry arrive, Gloria tells her the cat is called "Belesava" and she protects the island for Glory. Back with Glory she has bulked up so much that all her clothes have ripped off and she strides about the demons ship killing everything she comes across. She returns to the island and tells everyone to suit up and grab a weapon.

Glory: "This has gone on long enough. They can't retreat.  We can't let them survive.  We have but one mission now.  Kill those sons of bitches."

They all pile into battle against a new wave of demons.  Riley somewhat reluctantly.  A demon grabs her and tells her he is going to kill her by "accident".  Riley buries both of her blades in his head, killing him.

"I killed him.. But.. I don't even.. This isn't what I wanted... I'm so sorry."
Riley starts to feel out of her depth
Finally they finish off all the demon hordes on the island.  Glory says more will return and that she needs to recruit more soldiers.  Over a sequence of panels depicting an unseen monster killing what look like a gang of ninjas, Glory states the following:

Glory: "I've fought wars on Thule and Earth...I've seen warriors even more savage than me.  We need that kind of immense power.  That kind of relentless force.  Anything less is not an option. We need to go after the strongest I have ever known. The most savage of them all.  We need my little sister."
I can see the slight family resemblance..
End of book 1.  Glory: The One and Future Destroyer is an excellent book, with fantastic and striking art and a fine collection of female characters.  When Glory ends up naked while fighting there is no pointless titilation here.  Instead it's the very essence of female empowerment in some respects.  She's confident enough in her own skin and in her abilities to not even care that she is nude while she kicks demon butt.  Plotlines that will pay off in book 2 are being laid here, with mysterys as to why and how Glory's mother ended up alive and back with Glory's demon father as well as just how the meek and mild Riley is going to stop a being as powerful as Glory from destroying everything.  Whether the demons are telling the truth about Riley's fate and the worry hanging over the whole book as to just when Glory will lose control and never get it back again, ruining the world in the process as Riley's dream of the future foretold. You have to hang on until Book 2: War Torn to find out where and what this is all leading to...


  1. So cool! I wanna find out what happens next! It's a really interesting premise, and like you said, the artwork is dead good. I like the fact that it's about these three women too.

  2. It's so rare isn't it to find femalecentric comics nowadays isn't it? The artwork is superb and I've definitely put Ross Campbell on my "top modern comic artists" list. It's a very dense series, in this era of "decompressed" comics it's nice to come across ones that have a good density to them.