After reading the final issue of “Glory” by Joe Keatinge and Ross Campbell, I put it down and sat in silence for a full five minutes. It was unlike any other monthly comic I’d ever read by a major publisher. It is utterly unique in its execution and it makes no attempts to apologize for how bizarre it is, rather it wears it like a badge of honor.
“Glory” #34 is not a perfect comic, or my favorite comic, but it’s undeniably important in the scope of comics and in the way it unrepentantly breaks ground.
The way Ross Campbell chose to depict Glory from his first pages was important and groundbreaking, but the way that he continued to develop her throughout these twelve issues is fascinating. Glory massively changes her size and shape, she loses limbs, she gets new ones, she receives devastating scars, her hair becomes insanely huge, then she has no hair. It’s an unending evolution and a truly epic and insightful look into an immortal character that would very naturally change throughout the ages. Yet, it’s something readers almost never see in mainstream superhero books — unconventional-looking leads. Perhaps most shocking of all her looks was to see her “gussied” up as she “played house” in the 20s and 40s with her lover Emilie in this issue. And Glory and Emilie as lovers is something that we simply arrive at. It’s not shocking; in fact, it feels like the most natural thing in the world. However, most readers can agree it’s a rare thing to see in comics — certainly when handled this matter of factly, this naturally.
For his part, Keatinge really commits to the nonsensical aspects of “Glory.” Like Campbell, he just lets it be this crazy thing that it has organically become and by letting it be what it’s supposed to be it feels all the more honest and captivating. The epic battle that we were building toward since issue #23 and saw in large part in the last issue is wholly absent in this final issue. Instead this feels like the quiet bookend epilogue, about death, life, love, and even moving on to what’s next. It doesn’t have the devastatingly bold impact that we saw in the penultimate issue, but it does have a the gut check moment of what makes Glory tick, and even (perhaps finally) the emotional connection with Glory that readers have been waiting for throughout the new run — and that makes it a great place to end things.
At the end of the day I have to give Image (and Liefeld) huge props for their willingness to let Keatinge and Campbell truly cut loose in this book. As a result it was perhaps not their most popular title, or one that could go on forever, but it will stand the test of time as being one of the boldest, bravest, and most wonderfully bizarre superhero books — a superhero book that is utterly un-superhero in the best of ways.