Ecce libri cum picturis: <i>Glory</i> #34 and <i>Godzilla: The Half Century War</i> #5

Two comics finished with potentially depressing final issues that got turned on their heads a bit. Let's dive right in!

Glory (who was created by Rob Liefeld) is written by Joe Keatinge, drawn by Ross Campbell, colored by Owen Gieni and Charis Solis, lettered by Ed Brisson, and published by Image. It will cost you 399 cents to read it.

Glory has been one of the best comics on the shelves since it debuted a year ago, and the final issue does nothing to change that. Last issue, Keatinge and Campbell brought the thunder, and the battle was horrific and bloody and ultimately tragic.

This issue, Glory tries to gain some measure of redemption, and she gets it, but not in the way we might expect. It's very hard to end things in comics, even when you know that the series either isn't going to continue (in the case of creator-owned stuff) or probably isn't going to continue (in the case of this book; nothing has been announced about another team picking up the character). Yet Keatinge pulls it off, and in the process, takes a big step in becoming a great comic book writer. I've written before that I haven't read enough of Keatinge's work to really trust him - he's obviously talented, but it's so early in his comics career that he hasn't had a lot of work to base my opinion on - but this issue, and this series, go a long way to showing that he really knows what he's doing.

It's difficult to write anything about this issue because of spoilers, but it's interesting to check out the craft involved. Instead of just Glory seeking redemption because she caused so many deaths, Keatinge also tells a story of the great love of her life, a woman named Emilie whom Glory meets when she first arrives on Earth in 1913. Keatinge jumps back and forth between the romance of Glory and Emilie, which we know will end with Emilie's death and Glory living on (because Glory is essentially immortal), so when Glory decides to go to the land of the dead to save the people who have died, Keatinge has already implied that she's going to see Emilie too. The way he structures it is really nice - the people she meets in the afterlife have the idea, and then Keatinge gives us a two-page spread of their life together, including the way Emilie died.

But then, on the very next page, we get the sweet reunion between them. And then, on the page after that, Keatinge loops back to something that was told to Glory earlier in the comic, and we're reminded of the devastating sacrifice Glory made on her mission. It's only 20 pages long, but unlike a lot of other comics (cough*MarvelandDCones*cough), Keatinge manages to get a ton on each page. It's even impressive how he manages to run the gamut of emotions in this book - as nice a coda it is to the 12-issue arc, you could really pick this book up cold and feel distraught over what Glory has to go through. It's very impressive.

Campbell, of course, has been impressive the entire time, and he brings it again for the final one. One of Campbell's hallmarks is that he draws people with many different body types, and the fact that Emilie is pleasingly plump makes perfect sense, because Glory is a large woman herself, so they make a cute couple. Campbell does a really nice job contrasting the battle-torn Glory, bald, scarred, and missing an arm, with the Glory of the early 20th century, when her love for Emilie blossomed. The two-page spread showing the later years of their relationship is marvelous - Gieni and Solis use more black and white and muted colors, with Emilie being the bright spot in Glory's war-torn life. Gieni and Solis do a fine job on the rest of the book, too - the afterlife is bright and cheery, because those who are there have moved beyond life's pain.

And Campbell nails the beautiful image that Glory chooses to keep from before the war - it's a wonderful moment of friendship.

It would certainly be nice if Image saw fit to put out a nice big hardcover of this entire run. It's an impressive comic, and Keatinge and Campbell (plus the guest artists and the colorists) pretty much knocked it out of the park every issue. If you've missed this series, you really ought to rectify that. Glory is a brilliant comic, and it makes me far keener to see what Keatinge is doing next (I'm already keen to see what Campbell is doing next!).

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

James Stokoe wrote, drew, colored, and lettered this issue, with coloring help from Heather Breckel. Bobby Curnow edited it for IDW, which threw a $3.99 price tag on it. Godzilla himself was created by Tomoyuki Tanaka.

Meanwhile, after a slight delay, James Stokoe brings us the end of his Godzilla mini-series, and it's kind of interesting that IDW let him do what he did with the character - apparently this is a totally different Godzilla from the other IDW series, which is pretty interesting. I wonder what would happen if DC and Marvel admitted that each of their books operated in a completely separate universe, and the Batman in Batman was different from the one in Detective Comics? That would be strange ... but kind of cool.

Stokoe has been following Murakami, who began fighting Godzilla 50 years earlier and now (well, 2002), he's lived long enough to see the world almost destroyed by the monster and the space monsters that follow in his wake. His command has come up with a "final solution" for the problem, which involves shooting a miniaturized black hole at the monsters and hoping that takes care of them. The MechaGodzilla has been fixed, and while the pilot is preparing to go, Murakami's pal Ken zaps him with a taser so that Murakami can pilot it - he knows it's a suicide mission, and he believes he should be the one to go. And then, it's page after page of JAMES STOKOE DRAWING MONSTERS FIGHTING EACH OTHER, which has always been worth the price of admission for this comic.

Stokoe, however, has done a pretty good job with Murakami throughout this comic, so when he finally gets to fight Godzilla (as opposed to allying with Godzilla to fight the two space monsters), it's a somewhat poignant moment. Like Keatinge, Stokoe doesn't surprise us in the least with the ending, but it still has an impact, because Murakami has given up his entire life to fight Godzilla, and now he finally has a chance to end things on his terms. The fight, as brutal as it is, is also a bit sad - Murakami knows his life is inextricably linked to Godzilla's, so when the monster dies, can he live? Even though Stokoe pulls a classic horror movie ending on the book, it's still a very nice way to end the series, as there is really no other way he could have ended it.

I would definitely get the trade if you haven't been picking this up in singles. If you haven't seen Stokoe's art before, here's a really nice book to see it on, and if you have, you know what you'll be getting. Stokoe isn't quite as good a writer as he is an artist yet, but he makes some nice strides on this series. Let's hope it paid him enough so he can get back to work on Orc Stain. Wouldn't that be nice?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

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