"Glory" #23, the second of Image's Extreme Studios titles to debut, is shockingly refreshing and representative of the unexpected boldness of the Extreme Studios re-launch -- what could have been a cheesecake rehash of the '90s is a completely daring and forward-thinking book thanks to clever creative choices by writer Joe Keatinge and artist Ross Campbell.
Image deserves high praise for really thinking outside the box for the Extreme Studios books, particularly in the selection of Ross Campbell as the artist for "Glory." Campbell's art is essentially the antithesis to the cheesecake exploitative art "Glory" was known for in the '90s -- and Campbell's involvement instantly helps distance the book from its previous incarnation, separating "Glory" from the noise of similar books with sexy leading ladies. Campbell's Glory is built like a tank. She’s all muscles and height with shoulders the size of a doorway and unreal white hair. It’s a look we rarely see for women in comics and it speaks volumes about the book even before reading it. Glory’s costume is similarly smart and -- though stunning -- at least as much about function as form.
Beyond what he’s done with Glory herself, Campbell moves his characters expertly through a well-constructed world with an absolutely contagious kinetic energy. It’s great fun to see an artist of Campbell’s skill and sensibility on a book like this.
For his part, Joe Keatinge’s story does an excellent job of bringing new readers up to speed, handling the necessary exposition as quickly and painlessly as possible before launching the story in a more interesting direction. Keatinge and Campbell introduce a new character operating as a solid device for catching up on everything new readers may have missed and the character's point of view contrasts nicely with the godlike Glory. Keatinge's twist at the end of "Glory" #23 is particularly intriguing and dares readers to pick up the second issue.
Although both the art and the story work exceptionally well by itself, there seems to be a tonal disconnect between the writing and art. Campbell's work is delightfully over the top but almost begs for someone to make a joke or the story to take itself slightly less seriously. Meanwhile, Keatinge's story has set up a creative premise but it's played slightly too straight for such unflinching, eye-popping visuals -- like Glory punching a tank, or breaking an enemy soldier in half.
Time will tell if "Glory" can find that perfect tonal balance but no matter what it will be a good time watching these creators (and characters) get there. "Glory" #23 has some of the most innovative and ballsy work comics has seen for a long time. This is a re-launch, people.