For future development reference:
First, load your fonts using the assetmanager class.
Then, for each font, set a style. 0, 1, 2, 3. if you want to combine styles, you need a font for that.
I.E. bold and italic? You need a .fnt and .png.
Then merge your fonts together. so...
font.merge(boldFont); font.merge(italicFont); font.merge(boldItalicFont); etc.
You can set color immediately, but you need to set color and font together in order to get the font to update correctly.
I call style and color updates along with alignment and boundary (box) calls to ensure that functions correctly.
Hope this helps anyone with a similar issue. I sincerely hope there will be some documentation on this very attractive feature.