Death or Glory #2

Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Bengal
Letterer: Rus Wooten
Publisher: Image

Review by Jim Allegro

I have to confess at the outset that I am a big Rick Remender fan.   I love his versatility as a storyteller, his approachable characters, and his knack for plot twists and humorous dialogue.  That is why I found the first issue of his new car chase/counter-culture comic book, Death or Glory, a bit of a letdown.  Out of respect for the writer, I held out hope that the bland storytelling and lifeless characterizations of the first issue would improve in subsequent installments.  So far, I have been wrong.  Unfortunately, Death or Glory #2 provides more of the same, except without the kinetic car chase that salvaged the first issue.

In this issue, Glory picks up the pieces after her failed attempt to heist what she thought was her ex-husband’s drug shipment.  But, really, it was a freight of illegal immigrants.  Still committed to finding the money to pay for her ailing father’s health care, she befriends one of these immigrants.  Pablo, who is a good foil for Glory, also needs money.  But she is now a marked woman.  She is wanted by the shadowy traffickers from whom she liberated the migrants and the two cops who recognized her during the heist.  The most interesting moment is our introduction to the villain Korean Joe.  He is involved with Glory’s ex-husband, Toby.

What is it about this comic that makes it disappointing?  I suspect it has something to do with the political nature of the story.  This is Remender’s most pointed comment on contemporary America to date.  It is a thought piece on poverty, health care, gender, and immigration set against the dying days of an American road culture.  This is not to say that I dislike his attempt at a strong female character.  Or, that I disagree with his comment about the death of the American dream.  But, rather, I think that he is uncomfortable with the material.  He is unable to successfully blend politics with a compelling and original story.  The result is a comic with thin caricatures, predictable narration, and uninteresting situations.

Bengal’s art is the saving grace of this book, although, unlike the first issue, he has less space to show off what he can do.  This is an issue without the car chases that he sketched with skill previously, though he does use perspective and coloring to his advantage to provide Korean Joe with a frightening debut.  If nothing else, Death or Glory brought this talented artist some deserved recognition.

Verdict: Skip it.

I am enough of a Remender fan that I will probably stick it out through the end of the first arc.  But, there are much better comics out there right now.  If you are going to buy a Remender book, read the final issues of Black Science, or check out the new Seven to Eternity arc.  

Jim Allegro

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