“To the Heroes. They didn’t set out to be heroes. They just did what they had to do.”
“The end of Evil. Are a handful of men worth that?”
After his knock-out turn on Victorian literary icons in The Weirding Willows: Volume 1, writer Dave Elliott is back with an epic, new tale that weaves equal measures of patriotism and the paranormal, underlining traditional comic book tales with an uneasy, existential dread.
Superhero Blazing Glory doesn’t looks like he’s 95 years old, but having been the subject of a bizarre experiment that resulted in his death in World War II, he’s lived many lives since. Think Steve Rogers as Captain America, only instead of the Super Soldier serum sustaining him, he’s driven by the presence of an angelic being . . . or demon.
Yeah, it’s that deep and ominous.
Like Captain America, Blazing Glory suffers from an unflinching moral compass that guides him through the decades. Right is right, wrong is wrong, but in this first volume, that moral compass may come to betray him as the world turns from a black-and-white place to a place where shades of grey and shadows of the soul may carry more weight than ever before.
In his foreword, Elliott cites the two great influences on this tale, one being a piece of fiction published in 1930 that may have served as the inspiration for Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s titular creation, Superman.
The other is the Bible.
Now, before you go off thinking this is little more than a Sunday School lesson, wrapped in four-color clothing, think again. A book of right and wrong, it’s full of vengeance, and that biblical wrath is apparent in the tale Elliott spins in this tightly-plotted, 100-page volume. A brief story of Glory’s sojourn into Nazi Germany to capture Hitlercrackles with bloody glee, while 60 years later, the same person is shocked and stunned by the way the world has changed around him. And, he has to ask himself . . . what is really inside of him, driving him? For good or evil.
Because in Elliott’s gripping story, Blazing Glory finds himself on the outs and a target when he realizes that the hands controlling this group of hybrid beings may have become darker and more evil than anything he was ever created to fight in the first place. In fearlessly weaving current events, he adds a veracity and a sense to time and place that other less-sure hands would have overlooked or given short shrift to.
The fluid artwork by Garrie Gastony and Toby Cypress is sure and solid, and they’re allowed to flesh out the story with overshadowing or detracting from it. It has a clean but vintage feel to it, with the one odd exception being Glory’s recap of Bush’s 2001 Inauguration Day, where the artwork takes on a surreal, almost Bill Sienkiewicz-esque flavor, which in some ways fits the shift in perspective that the character is experiencing. Aside from that one section, the rest is peppered with sly winks, and if you don’t see Gary Oldman playing the Doctor running the ill-fated WWII project, you’re just not trying.
While not every question is answered, this serves as a stellar introduction to an intriguing character and storyline.
VERDICT: FIVE Celestial Conspiracy Theories out of FIVE