Death or Glory #1
Writer: Rick Remender
Review by Frank Lanza
I’m not sure there’s a genre Rick Remender won’t take a stab at. He’s mastered superheroes with Uncanny X-Force, sci-fi with Black Science and Fear Agent, fantasy with Seven to Eternity, underworld crime and action with Deadly Class and pretty much everything else in between. And now with Death or Glory #1, he’s taking on high-speed 70’s-style car-chase action and open-road counterculture head on. I have to admit, it’s a hell of a ride already.
Death or Glory #1 kicks off in fifth gear, the opening pages culminating in a brutal liquid nitrogen attack on some unsuspecting fast-food employees. This was totally not what I was expecting and gave me some heavy No Country for Old Men flashbacks. Which is a very good thing in case you were wondering. We’re then introduced to Glory, a gearhead knockout who was raised off the grid, taught to throw off the yoke of what society wants her to do and to seek her own path to freedom.
The man that taught her everything, Red, is dying, and Glory takes it upon herself to get him the liver he needs to survive. Unfortunately, when you’re not part of the system, health insurance isn’t about to bail you out, so Glory has to come up with an…alternative solution to her problem. She needs money and lots of it. So when her ex sets up a delivery of a substantial sum of mob money, Glory sees her opportunity to take care of her father and sets her plan into motion. But as we all know, no battle plan survives first contact, and the shit quickly hits the fan for Glory. Did you really think this was going to be easy?
I’ve read a lot of Remender over the course of my comic-book career. He’s one of my all-time favorite writers and Death or Glory #1 just cements his status even further. The thing I like best about Remender’s work is that no matter how fantastic the setting, no matter how alien his characters may appear, they are always believable as real people. They have real desires, motivations, hang-ups, imperfections, and fears. I don’t think there’s a single character he’s written that I can’t relate to on some level, because he takes every aspect of the human condition and inserts it into them.
Glory is no different. She’s strong, smart, beautiful, and terribly hurt and conflicted by her current situation. She’s not an action hero and doesn’t have any powers, but she’s determined to save the person she loves most in life and is prepared to make some really crazy decisions and even face death to make it happen. Who among us hasn’t made awful decisions in the face of overwhelming stress? Remender weaves the story perfectly and after only one issue I feel like I already know this woman. He’s so great at this, it drives me nuts.
I can gush about Remender’s writing all night long, but I’m going to switch gears and gush about Bengal’s absolutely fantastic artwork. I’m only familiar with his work from a handful of All-New Wolverine and Supergirl covers, but he’s totally on my radar after this first issue. Every panel is in motion, even when the characters are sitting still. He conveys such an energy in his linework, you can’t help but be pushed forward page by page. And the cars. Oh god, can this guy draw some cars! I felt like I was watching a high-speed chase in motion. I can’t think of another book with such perfectly cinematic and dramatic action scenes in recent memory. I’ve read through Death and Glory #1 three times, and I still have to slow myself down during the chase scenes. I just can’t help myself. Bengal is churning out some of the best work on the stands right now, and I can’t wait to see what else he is capable of as the series goes on.
Verdict: Buy it.
I really don’t think you need me to rave any further about how much I love this book. Even as an uncharacteristic $4.99 first issue from Image comics, you’re getting a massive 40-page thrill ride that is well worth the money. From start to finish, Death and Glory #1 never lets up. I’m very excited to see what Remender and Bengal have in store for Glory. I have a feeling it’s going to be one hell of a ride.