GLOW #2 – Review

GLOW returns to Netflix for its third glamorous season on August 9th but meanwhile, in an effort to throw some emergency rations to us stans starving for more doses of the streaming giant’s best live-action show (ya heard), IDW have generously provided the second instalment of their new bi-monthly tie-in comic series.  Once again scripted by Tini Howard, art designed by Hannah Templer and coloured by Rebecca Nalty, the sophomore issue picks up right where the first left off in both plot – based around the Gorgeous Ladies’ contentious first encounters with the Star Primas, actual female professional wrestlers our protagonists have been booked to wrestle thanks to reductive male booking, much to the Primas’ chagrin – and quality.  This is another breezy, relentlessly likeable read which scratches a specific niche that GLOW the TV show has already proven very adept at satisfying across its two seasons.

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In fact, Howard’s scripting so far may even have somewhat of a leg up on its source material by virtue of offering more time to the members of the show’s ensemble who can find themselves being shuffled to the back as a result of the central dynamic of main leads Ruth, Debbie and Sam.  Across these two issues so far, Howard has taken the opportunity to spotlight lesser-served characters from the group even whilst Ruth remains a relative centre to the narrative, befitting her efforts in this issue at being a uniting goodwill face for the gang.  Where #1 took time spotlighting Rhonda, Sheila, and the new largely defrosted Ruth & Debbie dynamic, #2 breaks up Ruth’s failing efforts to get off on the right foot with the Star Primas by following Carmen’s anxieties over being recognised by “real” pro-wrestlers, eventually bonding with a badass luchadora by the ring name of Desdemona, Melrose’s unquenchable thirst to get laid and, although briefly (and most likely to be further developed in later issues), Jenny’s anger over being relegated to merch stand duties by Sam over his concerns that, as the smallest of the GLOW girls, she’ll get creamed by the bigger Primas.

Just like in Issue #1, Howard already has a real knack for the voices of the cast, as though she’d been writing for them since the original pilot, and she takes care to shade in even the more archetypal characters with nuance and implied baggage.  The Star Primas could have merely been your basic mean girl troupe as contrast to the naïve yet happy GLOW girls, but Howard reminds (without overplaying) the reader that the Primas’ respective shoulder chips come from the sexist unappreciative patriarchal power structures of 80’s pro-wrestling territories and a fear that GLOW’s “soap opera” antics can be seen as pandering and reductive.  Howard’s touch is still largely light, fortunately, balancing a hangout escapist vibe adorned with easygoing and playful banter – the issue’s cast list refers to each of the Primas as “beefy lady wrestlers” – with infrequent stinging doses of reality puncturing in.  Templer’s art combined with Nalty’s soft complementary colours continues to be a pleasure for the eyes, and has arguably even improved from the first issue with a great reduction in slightly off-model facial designs.  Picturing the cast at various slight angles and just-heightened-enough expressions neutering any potential uncanny likenesses.

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My biggest complaint is that Issue #2 just sort of stops anti-climactically, building to less of a cliffhanger and more cutting off without warning midway through the build to a potential cliffhanger.  Issue #1 also, to my greedy eyes, arguably cut off right when things were getting super interesting but that admittedly did so at a deliberate and logical point, when the GLOW ladies make it to Reseda and discover they’ll be pitched against real pro-wrestlers.  By contrast, I was rather surprised and deflated when I reached the end of Issue #2 only to discover the next page was the cast list rather than the next stage of the build towards a true cliffhanger.  Also, whilst not an issue in the comic itself, a lot of the lettering in the opening contents page is an absolute mess with bizarre spacing choices and certain letters (mostly ‘i’s) bleeding into others; it’s quite difficult to read and sets a poor first impression, at least in my review copy.

Still, GLOW #2 continues to provide the good stuff that its parent series is known for and is well worth checking out for both fans of the series or anyone looking for a semi-regular good vibes girl hangout series.

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