Glory: Woman on a Mission
Posted by Jason Wilkins on Feb 14, 2012
Not just another warrior princess come to save man’s world from itself, Joe Keatinge and Ross Campbell’s rejuvenated Glory transcends stereotypes and creator Rob Liefeld’s original vision.
For most readers, one thing will be certain about Glory #23, once they’ve turned the final page on Joe Keatinge and Ross Campbell’s revisionist reboot: This ain’t your daddy’s Glory and it sure as hell ain’t Wonder Woman.
First appearing under the aegis of former Image founder Rob Liefeld’s Awesome Comics imprint in 1993, Gloriana Demeter was intended to be his universe’s answer to Wonder Woman. Despite some obvious and pointed differences in her physical appearance, Glory was a fairly unabashed pastiche of DC’s iconic superheroine, preaching the same message of peace to her new home, and frequently required to use violence to get her point across. Active since World War Two, she fought Nazis and other evil menaces into the present day, alongside Awesome Comics stalwarts Die-Hard and Supreme.
Alan Moore took a brief infamous stab at the character, attempting to repeat the magic he worked on Supreme, by anchoring Glory to a mortal counterpart named Gloria West. Moore only lasted one issue but his contribution to the character’s history still resonates to this day. Tasked with retooling Liefeld’s creation into a cutting edge, relevant superheroine, Joe Keatinge and Ross Campbell didn’t overlook any facet of Glory’s past in this new, re-purposed incarnation.
With a respectful eye on the work of his predecessors, Keatinge does have his own creative agenda for Glory. As of Issue #23, don’t come looking for a comfortable homage to Princess Diana because Keatinge’s Glory is something entirely different.
“I'm really trying to devastate that - and really any - stereotype beyond all recognition,” explains Keatinge. “She's not a princess. She's the living, breathing embodiment of a pact between two nations which were warring for eons. She's was born to unite them both or destroy the side who gets out of line. She's a weapon. I'm not doing my Wonder Woman.”
Pretty strong words but Keatinge is coming from a place of passion and respect, not just for a single character but for an entire medium. For Keatinge, Glory represents an opportunity to contribute something exciting and lasting to the art form: “I want comics to be diverse by gender, race, sexual orientation, whatever. I want countless distinct female superheroes, whether they hail from an Amazonian island, outer space or Brooklyn. Comics is such a powerful medium with such amazing talent. It can do better than keep rehashing or referring to the same character from the 1942.”
Even still, Keatinge is a fan at heart. He understands the investments of time and money readers make in an economic climate where every dollar counts. Fortunately, both he and Campbell were afforded a lot of wiggle room in their bid to please both old and new fans.
“Rob [Liefeld] and Eric [Stephenson] gave us a ton of freedom, yet I still want to respect the fans of the past issues. I would always get bothered when someone came on a favorite comic and told me everything I loved was no longer continuity. Seems like a bad way to do business. I'm hoping fans of the classic books will dig our take, but that brand new readers will feel very welcomed.”
With his collaborator Ross Campbell’s robust new look for Glory underlining this next chapter in her development, will find a much more realistic Glory welcoming them this month. The first thing long-time readers might notice is a fairly drastic reduction in certain body parts that seemed more like accessories on previous versions. That’s right: Glory’s breasts now occupy the bounds of possibility and no longer dwarf her pretty head.
Even more fascinating though, is Glory’s overall rugged look. Previously, long of limb and swollen of breast, Glory was often depicted as a Barbie doll with an extravagant headdress. Campbell’s Glory, on the other hand, is sturdy and muscular, her body proudly bearing the scars of her many battles. This is a woman who could stand toe-to-toe with Supreme – and does, in one of the issue’s most memorable scenes.
Reinvention has always been a part of comic books. It’s pretty safe to say that virtually every major character from Batman to the Avengers have been re-tooled, rebooted, and/or re-launched over the last fifty years – sometimes whether it was necessary or not. The time just feels right for a fresh new look at Liefeld’s Awesome Comics/Extreme Studios properties. Characters such as John Prophet, Supreme, and Glory function as familiar touchstones in the comics landscape but come unencumbered by the often convoluted backstories and fan expectations that come with the iconic heroes of the Golden Age.
Yet despite the freedom characters like Glory represent for creators, Keatinge is still well aware of the huge golden lasso threatening to hogtie his silver-haired warrior before she ever gets a chance to set herself apart from the rest of the pack. Still, he remains confident there’s more than enough room on the shelves for another super-hot, ass-kicking female.
“My goal is by the time my run ends - and as long as sales/editorial allow it, I plan to be on until #100 - that people will drop the whole Wonder Woman comparison. I get why people do it, but at the same time I'm pretty disturbed that if you make a female superhero who kicks a lot of ass, she's automatically a ‘Wonder Woman pastiche’. “
“The only thing my Glory and Wonder Woman have in common is a vagina,” affirms Keatinge. “That's the end."
Glory #23, Joe Keatinge (W), Ross Campbell (A). Image Comics, ongoing series, $2.99. On sale February 15, 2012.
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