Glory: The Complete Saga ReviewJuly 2, 2014
Glory is a force of the supernatural; half Amazon, half demon, she wields fearsome power in the service of what she hopes is right. After her heroics in World War II, she became a symbol of hope and justice, inspiring old and young around the world. And then she disappeared.
Riley Barnes is a young girl who dreams of Glory and goes on a quest to bring her back to the world that needs her, but what Riley doesn’t anticipate is that the global conspiracy that has kept her hidden for decades could make Glory’s reappearance more dangerous than anything else the world has ever known.
That is the premise behind Glory: The Complete Saga by Joe Keatinge (Shutter, Hell Yeah, Morbius: The Living Vampire) and Ross Campbell (Wet Moon, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). Glory was originally created in 1995 by one of Image Comics founders Rob Liefeld, and was given a twelve-issue re-imagining in 2012. This is the complete twelve-issue series compiled into a 352 page hardcover graphic novel that includes scripts, commentary and interviews. The exterior of the book looks great with its wraparound cover, but how does the story of this fare over its 300 plus pages?
There was a lot here that did not resonate well with me as I read through the tale of Glory. I understand that this was a critically acclaimed series, but I digress; let’s go over what just did not click for me. First of all, the artwork throughout was good when a character was standing in the foreground but it seemed like anything that found its way into the background like in the large battle scenes disappeared into a giant wash of clutter. For example; if you were to compare large battle scenes in Marvel’s Civil War, you can clearly see what is happening in the background fight scenes in any of the panels. The art is well done and clearly defined, whereas in Glory there is a scene where she is fighting her fathers remaining soldiers and the best way that I can describe the background is that everything just seems to run into each other.
The other issue that I found with the artwork is that this book is gory in an over the top ultra violence kind of way. The gore would be alright if it progressed the story, but it doesn’t. For example, there is a scene where Glory rips off another characters arm because he would not follow her orders. That would be great and progress things if the loss of the arm had more of an impact of the characters rather than shrugging it off. It just seemed to me like ultra violence for the sake of ultra violence. For an example of good use of ultra violence look at something like Kick-Ass, where yes there is quite a bit of it, but at the same time once the fighting dies down, you can see it taking a toll of the characters involved and usually there is a good reason for it.
Beyond the artwork of this book there is the actual storyline and characters — I had a hard time connecting with any of them. Glory herself is a hellbent warrior focused solely on killing and violence and there doesn’t seem to be any redeeming qualities in her. Once she becomes unhinged and starts tearing her enemies apart, it really becomes a challenge to actually cheer for her because she seems more like Dark Phoenix from X-Men where she really just needs to be stopped (which I will admit is a plot point that Glory does need to be stopped). Riley and the others who actually know that Glory has gone too far and needs to be stopped seem to just shrug it off as no big deal. The way the characters interact within the story just seems rushed at points; for example right at the beginning there doesn’t seem to be any progression of Riley looking for Glory. She finds her fairly quickly, and once she does, Glory immediately takes her in and starts training her to be a killer. It really felt like you were pushed into the storyline far too quickly. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of backstory of why things are happening or make us care more about the events that are unfolding. The book seemed more focused on setting up the next gore filled battle scene.
One thing that really made no sense to me was the fact that in one scene she fights her fathers remaining army to the death, losing friends along the way to win the fight and it’s obvious that Glory and her father and her are at serious odds but only pages later they are eating breakfast together with no lead up to why they are being civil in one another’s company. It’s these plot issues that really did not work for me.
Now that is not to say that there were not things that I did like about the book. There were a few characters that I found interesting and really wished I knew more about them. For example, Henry and Belesava, Glory’s two sidekicks from her own world, seemed to be incredibly interesting. Henry starts off making tea for Riley and has this funny way about him and he has obsession with old cameras. Henry was very well drawn and when he enters battle he turns into this very cool monster, but there wasn’t enough of him to really be a draw to this title, and (SPOILER!) his eventual fate is rather anti-climactic. Belesava is also another really cool character; she’s Glory’s giant panther with bat wings and yes, that is the easiest way to describe her. But, (SPOILER!) she suffers the same fate as Henry.
There is a great scene with future Riley Barnes meeting up with Glory five hundred years in the future, which to me seemed like a stand out scene that would turn the tide of the book. The two have a pretty heavy scene talking about how things went horribly wrong and how Glory ruined things for everyone, and then there’s a heart wrenching twist ending the scene. This seemed like it was setting up more plot threads to be explored.
I understand the need for strong female leads in comics, however I don’t know about pushing Glory as a strong female superhero. She seems set on unleashing furious ultra violence at a moments notice like she’s on some kind of hair trigger. Heroes like Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Lara Croft, Ms. Marvel, Jean Grey, and Black Canary would be heroes that I would suggest as female leads that have strong convictions and would make for good role models (in some cases). If I were to suggest a female hero that is prone to ultra violence, I would suggest Hit Girl (from Kick-Ass) or Michonne (The Walking Dead) as they have strong convictions in what they do and aren’t just hurting or killing people for the sake of doing it. In Michonne’s case, she’s just doing what she has to in order to survive. Glory: The Complete Saga just did not click for me, and unfortunately it is not a graphic novel I could recommend.