Joe Keatinge and Ross Campbell deliver a pleasantly surprising third issue in "Glory" #25, subverting what many readers might have expected and cranking the stakes up dramatically.
While Campbell's powerful and unflinching visuals remain the star of this book, Keatinge's story is taking a nicely unexpected turn, propelling us 500 years into the future (in a prophetic dream) and then yanking us back to the present with a doozy of a plot twist. The opening notes of a "new" superhero series are critical and it's unfortunate that so many takes (and executions) feel so stale, but this is bold and unapologetic in the things it says about our characters and the paths they find themselves on. I wish more stories could be so unflinching with such high stakes.
Keatinge's writing is still not perfectly to my tastes, but the plotting is daring and the writing and art feel much more tonally in sync for this issue than the first two. The sheer audacity of the plot and the visuals alone is enough to both unify the book and set it apart from so many other comics out there in a refreshing way.
Campbell's character design and world building continues to be off the charts and even soars to new heights as he's given a chance to spread his wings -- depicting grim futures, Mars landscapes and populations, space stations and Glory, who has changed into something else entirely. Campbell's future Glory is magnificent, having lost even more of her more "human" attributes, she's been redesigned into something new and different and given the flashback we're shown, it's no coincidence that she looks less human than ever. The design throughout this issue is jaw-droppingly imaginative and like the plot twists; it's brazen and unrestrained. You can practically feel the creators (and editors) cutting loose on the page and it's impossible to ignore how many comics I can think of that would benefit from this same confidence. Campbell's violence is particularly hardcore, but like everything else it's in excellent harmony with the book's themes and tone, and so it feels right even in its gruesome intensity.
As a fan of Campbell's work I always expected to enjoy his visuals for this book, but I was not necessarily convinced the story and characters would compel me. However Keatinge has delivered an interesting take, and one worthy of Campbell's visuals. The result is book you simply must be buying, if only for the fearlessness with which it is executed. You won't see much like this elsewhere in "mainstream" comics and that makes it precious indeed.