Jonathon Ellis is a journalism student and a fan of comics and anime.
Death or Glory: Shut Up & Drive
This "double-sized" issue opens with Glory Owens recording a monologue that's meant to be played in the event of her death. "But, why" one might wonder, "would a young woman be planning for such an early death?" Well, since she can remember, Glory was raised to follow one mantra. Live free or die. That mantra was instilled in her by a man named Red, who stepped in to help raise Glory after her mother passed away.
Sadly, Red doesn't have too long to live himself. Doctors say he needs a new liver, and Glory intends to get him one. The only problem—neither Glory nor Red have enough money to pay for a new liver, and a surgery of that magnitude isn't covered by their insurance. That isn't enough to deter Glory, however, as she plans on getting that liver one way or another.
Luckily, Glory's ex-husband is involved with a tough crowd, a crowd that makes their money through less-than-legal practices. Glory intends to use what knowledge she has of these practices to pull a job of her own—stealing cash from a human trafficking ring. If that sounds too risky, it's because it is. No wonder she's recording her last words.
Giving the Fans a Treat
I was pleasantly surprised to find a fan mail section at the back of the first issue. Co-creator Rick Remender is planning on practicing the age-old tradition of posting fan's questions, comments, and concerns in each new comic. This hasn't been done much by independent publishers, as fan interaction is usually predicated upon a strong following.
Considering this is only the first issue of his new series, Remender is definitely taking a gamble by publicly asking fans to interact with him regularly. I hope it pays off, as fan interaction grants creators first-hand feedback from their target audience.
Art & Aesthetic
The reason Remender was so confident in his ability to attract a following is because of the art in this book. Bengal, the artist, has worked on some of the biggest titles from Marvel and DC.
Bengal's experience shows, for the most part, in Death or Glory #1. Part of what makes his art so good is his work on backgrounds. In most comic books, the backgrounds are simplified during action sequences. Whenever a character punches or kicks, the backgrounds are replaced by one solid color and some speed lines. This is a simple trick that artists use to save time, however, it can sometimes take you out of the story.
That isn't a problem in Death or Glory, as Bengal always makes sure to include detailed backgrounds. What's more, Bengal portrays motion and expression really well. At no point did anyone in the issue seem stiff, and the characters' facial expressions almost always reflected their dialogue.
Sadly, Bengal didn't maintain a very consistent level of quality when rendering his figures. Some side characters looked very similar to one another while the main characters weren't always as rendered as they could have been. Bengal's massive involvement in the book probably had something to do with his occasional dip in quality, as he was responsible for the pencils, inks, & colors. While Bengal was able to add more of a personal touch by doing the art himself, the book might have benefited from another artist to offer some relief.
That said, the colors in the book were subtle and matched the tone of Remender's story. The letters from Rus Wooton were top notch. At times, the color of the font was changed to match the colors of the scene, while sometimes words were bolded to give emphasis.
Plot & Characters
Remender is a fan of multifaceted narrative tools, as he uses them again and again throughout the double-sized issue. By using her final words to give information about herself, we learned that Glory is in some kind of danger. During the scene in which Glory discussed her relationship with Red, we also learned that she is a young divorcee. Being a divorcee, it makes sense that Glory would value her independence as much as she does. See what I mean?
These nuanced techniques give Remender the ability to develop his characters and cultivate the plot in as efficient a manner as possible. As a result, Remender has plenty of room left in the issue for action. The fight scenes are fast-paced, and because the characters involved have been given time to develop, every encounter carries weight.
The Verdict: Buy
While there is some inconsistency in how well the figures are drawn, the art in Death or Glory #1 is still above average. With well developed characters, an involved plot, and a fan mail section to look forward to, I would recommend picking up the next issue.
© 2018 Jonathon Ellis