Robot 6

Glory #23: An experiment in Liefeld without Liefeld

Controversial artist Rob Liefeld — and by “controversial” I mean people tend to either love his work or hate it — seems to be in one of the most productive phases of his recent career, drawing a monthly book for five consecutive issues, and about to take the reins as both writer and artist.

And the Liefeld-created Extreme Studios properties have returned to Image Comics, which is launching continuations of several of the books as part of an ambitious resurrection of Liefeld’s early-’90s characters.

And here’s the weird thing — the two aren’t connected.

Liefeld’s monthly book is DC’s current volume of Hawk and Dove*, a perennial lower-tier property conceived by artist Steve Ditko in the late 1960s. One of Liefeld’s first big breaks was a penciling gig on a Hawk and Dove series in the late ’80s, and DC has kept the characters around in one book or another almost ever since.

The Extreme Studios books are being published by Image, the company Liefeld helped found, and his characters were a part of its initial success.

I’m not complaining. Despite being square in the proper age demographic when Image was founded, I never cared for Liefeld’s design, rendering or storytelling — in fact, of the founders, Todd McFarlane’s was the only work Teenage Caleb enjoyed, and that was in part because of how much it reminded me of the Batman comics of the day.

By having people who aren’t in any way, shape or form Rob Liefeld, including creators whose art doesn’t seem noticeably inspired by Liefeld, work on the old Liefeld properties, the Image initiative seems less like nostalgia than some sort of exciting experiment.

Did people once embrace characters like Supreme, Glory and the members of Youngblood because they were created, written and drawn by Liefeld, or is there something in them that can exist and can flourish in different ways completely divorced from their creator?

What becomes of a Liefeld comic when you take Liefeld out of it?

(I fully realize, of course, that this isn’t a unique experiment, even if the specific parameters are. Creators with vastly different talents, styles and ambitions have been taking the creations of others in different directions almost as long as there have been comic books and, in fact, it’s become the hallmark and lifeblood of superhero comics since at least the Silver Age. I think it’s one of the more fun things about superhero comics, seeing how different artists draw Batman or write Captain America or whatever.)

I applaud Liefeld and the folks at Image for choosing such distinct, fresh and, um, talented talents as well, including King City’s writer/artist Brandon Graham as the writer of Prophet and Ross Campbell as the artist for Glory, the first of the new Extreme books I’ve taken a look at.

Glory was created in 1993 as a sort of bad-girl clone of Wonder Woman (or, to put it slightly more generously, as a bad-girl analogue of Wonder Woman). She was the warrior royalty of a tribe of Amazonians — not Amazons — who left her world to become a kick-ass superheroine on Earth.

She had the improbable, somewhat deformed extreme Barbie-doll body of Liefeld’s ladies of the ’90s:

That alone made the fact that Campbell would be drawing a book featuring her something worth paying attention to.

Campbell’s an incredible talent whose work I’ve been enthusiastic about ever since I encountered it in Tokyopop zombiepocalypse story The Abandoned. He’s also responsible for the drama Wet Moon and monster-superhero series Shadoweyes, and drew the book Water Baby for DC’s short-lived Minx imprint.

One particularly noteworthy aspect of his work is how good he is at drawing women, and the fact that his women come in all shapes and sizes, like real women. His female characters can be thin little waifs or zaftig plus-size gals, or, as in the case of his Mountain Girl, huge, hulking ladies that a college football team’s defensive line would have a hard time tackling. He also is particularly skilled at making his female characters look incredibly sexy — or charming, or repellent, depending on their character traits and role in the story — no matter what size or shape he’s drawing them in (particularly in his early work; he seems to have toned down the sexualization a bit of late).

So I was eager to see Campbell’s version of Liefeld’s Glory.

His is, no surprise, quite different from Liefeld’s. She’s built big, solid and muscular, something between the sort of woman R. Crumb grew famous for drawing and an Olympic athlete and a medieval castle wall. She has the same signifiers as before, including long white hair — colored so as to look luminescent, so there’s a sharp contrast between her and the white-haired Superman clone/analogue Supreme in the scene they share — and she still wears the same colors, although they are much less bathing suit-like and more ancient warrior-like (tracking a similar evolution of Wonder Woman’s garb from the ’90s through the post-Xena current Wonder Woman).

Campbell gives her a bit of a baby face, particularly in the scenes set when she was young (for her), but she’s an imposing figure; if Liefeld’s Glory looked like a Barbie doll, Campbell’s is closer to He-Man.

That she looks so different is fitting too in that it accentuates her alien-ness to the rest of the world, the “real” world the book is set in. Campbell ramped up the alien nature of the various monsters and demons as well (Glory is half-Amazonian, half-demon), so they are particularly grotesque, and detailed in their grotesquerie.

It can be exceptionally difficult to judge first issues given the tendency for comics to be created for arcs and storylines, so it’s the visuals of a first issue like Glory that stand out. On that end, not only is the new Glory a sucker punch in the face, it’s a knockout.

The story, written by Joe Keatinge, is packed quite full, including an origin story, a sort of on-the-fly recap of Glory’s history in the world, the introduction of several other characters and a suggestion of a new direction — complete with surprise cliffhanger.

Born of a union between the warring Amazonians and Demons, Glory is trained to be the ultimate warrior, a sort of deterrent to the two sides breaking their peace pact — if one does, she’ll kick all their asses.

Bored, she comes to earth during World War II to punch out tanks and tear Nazis apart like tissue paper, and sticks around as a superhero for a long time, before ultimately disappearing. A young woman haunted by dreams of Glory tries to track her down … or at least discover whatever became of her.

Keatinge doesn’t play down the Basically Wonder Woman, But More Hardcore aspects of the character — which is fine; Alan Moore had great success playing up the Basically Superman aspects of Supreme — and, oddly enough, before story’s end it seems to draw as much inspiration from Promethea as it does Wonder Woman. Or perhaps not so oddly — Moore briefly wrote Glory before going on to create Promethea with J.H. Williams III.

As I say, it’s still too early to tell where the story is going, but it starts in a very interesting, very different place, with Ross Campbell’s Rob Liefeld’s characters and concepts. In that respect, it’s already an incredibly interesting and — I’d say — successful experiment.

*This was written before today’s announcement that Hawk and Dove would be getting the ax, along with five other DC “New 52″ titles. Maybe Liefeld will be working on Extreme books for Image in the near future after all now …

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Comments

33 Comments

Giant babies.

You put a talented creator on a book about a dried dog turd and it will sell. Try it, I dare you. Mike Mignola’s Dried Dog Turd Adventures. No offense to Liefeld or the people on the books mentioned above.

“By having people who aren’t in any way, shape or form Rob Liefeld, including creators whose art doesn’t seem noticeably inspired by Liefeld, work on the old Liefeld properties, the Image initiative seems less like nostalgia than some sort of exciting experiment.”

It’s not the first time the experiment’s been tried with Liefeld’s own characters either. The Awesome era saw Brandon Peterson on Glory, Steve Skroce on Youngblood and Chris Sprouse on Supreme, who are all just as un-Liefeld-y as Ross Campbell or Brandon Graham (though in vastly different ways, obviously). And those comics were GREAT.

The first Jason hit it right on the head.

With those cherubic faces, the art does kind of look like giant babies.

Liefeld also drew INFINITE with Kirkman which had four issues come out Pretty Much Monthly so far.

I’m just a smidge impressed, I have to say.

-B

Captain Librarian

January 12, 2012 at 6:41 pm

All this talk about authors working with Liefeld characters after he stops writing for them and no Deadpool mention? I feel like I’m missing a point or something.

Deadpool is not a Leifeld character.

People seem to forget that Liefeld has always been a champion of creators rights and given big breaks to so much young talent it is scary. He has an eye for emerging artists like few before him and unlike so many other big name artists uses his “fame” to help bring others up not hold them down. I couldn’t be happy to see the extreme books back and under such good hands. Brandon Graham on Prophet is a stroke of genius…king city was one of the freshest books I have read in a long time.

I have no experience with Glory, but I’m pretty interested in and excited about this book, if just for the character design. I’ve always sort of hated that characters like Wonder Woman who are supposed to be these powerful warriors are usually drawn like swimsuit models. For once we’re getting a main female character that’s built like a brick wall and looks like she could punch a mountain into submission.

Even the aforementioned baby face is interesting, since I don’t know any other female character that would be purposefully drawn with a round, chubby face as opposed to the more accepted standards of beauty in comics.

mr.pants: Deadpool is created by Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza. Look it up.

I was a kid when this stuff was first coming out, and I bought a lot of it, I’m slightly embarrassed to admit. I can’t wait to see this new stuff. I love Ross Campbell’s work and Brandon Graham writing a Prophet with no guns, and art by the brilliant Simon (Jan’s Atomic Heart) Roy is guaranteed to bring the goodness.

Also, as Jason Green points out, the first Extreme relaunch was pretty good. The Steve Skroce Youngblood was EXCELLENT. Shame it only lasted 2 or 3 issues.

” He has an eye for emerging artists like few before him and unlike so many other big name artists uses his “fame” to help bring others up not hold them down. I couldn’t be happy to see the extreme books back and under such good hands”

Um…. Marat Michaels? Chap Yaep? Eric Stephenson? Eric Stephenson’s brother? Various other relatives of Rob Liefeld & Eric Stephenson?

I think the 90s series had deodato and ed benes as artists.

‘Controversial Rob Liefeld…’

Let’s leave ‘artist’ out of it.

___________________________

Support Bill Mantlo!

I really like Campbell’s work. It took a while to grow on me, but seeing Mountain Girl won me over. He can draw big, powerful women and I appreciate that. His dynamism is also wonderful (again, see Mountain Girl.)

A lot of people say stuff about his “baby faces”, but people say stuff about every artist’s style. The people who don’t like a style usually speak louder than the people who like it. I for one will stand up for Campbell’s style and can’t wait to see him cut loose on his work for Glory.

@MR. PANTS
Sadly, and trust me…I know it hurts, but DEADPOOL is a Liefield creation.
I know, I know….you are probably considering giving up comics upon fonding that out, but yes….he is the creator.

I think he is a dreadful artist with poor anatomy and the ugliest hands and guns n comic history.

Now, watch me get banned like I did from HeroRealm for talking about baby Jesus.

I’m really looking forward to all the new Extreme books…and I was a big fan of them back in the day.

Personally… I loved the 90′s . Yes, it was a mixed bag …but a lot of books (Not just Extreme) get group together unfairly and collectively labeled as “crap” by a lot of people who very likely never read it the first time around. For example…. the original Prophet looked cool…. but the writing and the story was all over the place. On the other hand Glory was awesome. The core Glory book was always fun and I’d put that stuff against Wonder Woman of the same era and would go as far as saying that Glory was an improvement. I’m a huge Wonder Woman fan but Glory has the personality that Glory lacked. If people bash Glory or have a negative opinion of the character it’s likely based on “crossover” books popular at the time like “Glory / Angela” and stuff like that….Don’t believe me? Quit complaining and go read it .

That being said…. Liefeld without Liefeld isn’t a “bonus” . I dig Liefeld stuff and although I might enjoy other creators working with these characters , I would still welcome his involvement because I respect him as a creator.

PS: To the guy who thinks Liefeld didn’t design , conceive, and create Deadpool. What planet are you living on? Go ask Fabian ( Who I love ) and he’ll tell you the same thing.

Everyone who makes one line, “witty” remarks about Liefeld needs to realize:

He is an artist. He illustrates.

He is a writer. He plots and writes stories.

He is a creator. He’s created a vast roster of characters, books, ect.

Does his style appeal to you? Maybe not, but he’s still an artist. Does his writing appeal to you? Maybe not, but he’s still a writer. Do his creations appeal to you? Do you think they’re too derivative? Maybe they don’t appeal to you, but he’s still a creator. And maybe some of his creations are derivative, but he’s always taken things that have been done before in different directions.

You can make all the “smart, witty” comments you like, but nothing will change these facts.

And maybe we don’t believe we are the “moral majority”. Maybe you don’t believe you are either. Maybe you do. Whatever the case, those of us who enjoy Liefeld’s work will continue to, no matter what you continue preach to the choir. And we will endure you, just like he has.

@Everybody and their mudders

Like I said, he’s not a Leifeld character. He’s a Marvel character. This is an article about Leifeld charcters. Stuff he owns. Stuff he’s hiring people to work on. Why not bring up Cable as well, yeah? We don’t because he’s not a Leifeld character.

I hate Deadpool. I find him incredibly annoying. Also, I have no animosity towards the guy. He’s a real gent who actually took the time to look through my comics, read them, and tell me that they’re quite good. You can like a guy, but hate his work. Right?

Pants – if you dislike Deadpool – you might love DeadpoolMAX. It is a ridiculous book. And it also treats Deadpool basically like an insane, clueless moron

The creation of a character is an overrated credit. Did Rob create Deadpool? Technically, sure. But he had nothing at all to do with the personality or tone that people actually like Deadpool for.

The Extreme revival I am looking forward to is Supreme by Erik Larsen & Cory Hamscher (I am a huge Savage Dragon fan). After reading this, I may also give Glory a try

I actually enjoyed the first dozen or so issues of her series back in the 1990s. Yeah, it had early work by Mike Deodato Jr before he got really good, and he drew her like a Penthouse pin-up girl. But the writing by Jo Duffy was a lot of fun. Even if it was a cheesecake title, at least the writer was a woman, which gave it a distinct advantage over most other “bad girl” comic books.

I am more interested in who is paying for all this. Hawk and Dove and Infinite royalties can’t be paying for it all. Is Kirkman bankrolling Extreme?

Pants – dumdum is right: Deadpool MAX is Deadpool “for the rest of us”. There are costumed goons throughout, but it’s questionable as to whether or not they have powers (though they all believe they do), Deadpool included. They’re all portrayed as bloodthirsty dimwits working for a government run by idiots. And Kyle Baker’s art is supremely strange on it: Cable looks like really, really odd.

RE: this article.
2012 is 90′s nostalgia – the industry clearly decided and everybody’s getting on it: the DC reboots smacks of it (not to mention keeping Liefeld close to the vest – JUST IN CASE), Marvel is going Cable and Age of Apocalypse crazy, Valiant and Extreme rise from the grave, Mark Millar pretending Millarworld is the new old Image – it’s A Thing.

Image / Extreme seem to understand that – yes – there could be a spike in lapsed readers in the 30 something age group. Straight up Blood & Guts & Tee & Ay in the old tradition will not sustain an adult reader – but somthing a little left of center might. The new Prophet also follows this line of thinking as well. Supposedly Liefeld was doing the Youngblood book, but with three DC books and The Infinite, I’m guessing that beyond the first issue that’s not likely.

I would read Deadpool MAX, but after the Kirbys lost their case, I’m buy anything Disney unless its second hand.

I’m *NOT* buying anything Disney unless its second hand.

I like the idea of getting his Awesome studios stuff going again, but the artist on Glory and on his other female title (that I’m blanking on right now) both suck. I wouldn’t read that stuff if it was free.

OrginalGlory705

January 16, 2012 at 7:21 am

1) Deadpool was created by Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza

2) Orginal Glory run was decent. Thanks to Jo Duffy at the Writer’s Chair.

3) Alan Moore’s Glory was garbage

4) This new Glory looks like garbage

5) I wish Liefeld or Ed Benes or Brandon Peterson, or Mike Deodato Jr. were drawing the book.
Then I might consider it. But I can’t stand this garbage -looking anime wannabe, hulked-up Glory.

6) I hope they republish the old Glory comics.

Aside from Prophet “New Extreme” doesn’t have much going for it.

Looked at some new issues of Avengylyne and you couldn’t tell it from the slop from Marvel puts out or any other 3rd tier indie publisher.

I have very mild hope for Bloodstrike and maybe Supreme, but “it doesn’t look good Jim.”

Doom Force is my favorite non-Leifield Liefeld comic.

@pauls

That’s because doom force had e larsen as artist. Emulated liefied and mcfarlane.

Larsen never emulated McFarlane or Liefeld. Get real. If anything he aped Kirby and Walt Simonson

Uh….@sageharley…..Larsen had nothing to do with Doom Force.

The credits:
“Judgment Day” Script by Grant Morrison Art by Steve Pugh, Ian Montgomery, Brad Vancata, Richard Case, Walter Simonson, Paris Cullins, Ray Kryssing, Duke Mighten, Mark McKenna, and Ken Steacy Cover by Keith Giffen and Mike Mignola

I don’t understand why Liefeld is mentioned in the article so much. Liefeld did not work on the regular Glory series. He provided a couple of covers and wrote a couple of crossover issues outside the series.
Glory was obviously created as a Wonder Woman clone but she was instantly moved away from that in the series. Apart from being an ‘Amazon’ (not really) Glory has nothing special in common with Wonder Woman.
Glory was already re-launched several years ago with an Alan Moore story and beautiful art that makes this comic look poor and childish.
Glory is not a ‘bad girl’, she is actually a bit pacifist. She is an elemental, that’s why she doesn’t age and looks beautiful. She had wonderful self-absorbed character flaws. This continuation ignores everything great about the character and pumps her full of steroids. If it was a new #1 I could handle it, but this effort is just lazy.

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