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My Review For Gargoyles #7, "The Rock"...
- Picked up a couple copies of "The Rock" today. There were only a couple issues left and the store had only been open an hour, which was cool. It was also nice to see that the store apparently had ordered some more issues of "Reunion". When I checked out, the clerk said "Good choice" which led to a long discussion about the series and the comic. She is apparently a huge Elisa fan. Our discussion reminded her to put the DVDs on her x-mas list. We talked a while more and she is really wanting to go to the Gathering, so who knows, she might end up riding there with me (St. Louis to Chicago). Nice to make friends over Gargoyles.
- On to the comic. When I first saw the cover (we didn't have any released previews this time!) I laughed. Reading "Stone... At Night?!" I actually said (under my breath) "What sorcery is this?!" Spotting Big Ben I quickly figured out what was going on. Nice to see Hudson featured better than he has been on covers so far. Lex looks good too. Nice cover.
- Okay, so the book itself. I knew it was going to be non-linear, and I knew Greg could pull that off. I guess I didn't know what to expect, but I loved it. I've read the book twice already and like all the previous chapters it is exciting to read, full of surprises and finishes with a bunch of anticipation and questions. This is the kind of story that I will almost have to wait until Issue #9 to really review. That said, there are a couple things I really enjoyed:
- I know it is a very minor point, but I liked seeing many of the recurring human characters (Macbeth, Fox, Xanatos) in something besides their typical series costume. That is definitely a strength of the comic book. Of course, Elisa is still in her usual jeans, black t-shirt and red jacket. Maybe it helps her keep a sense of "normalcy"!
- One of the neatest traits of the Gargoyles Universe, and Greg's writing abilities, is that nothing ever gets wasted. I'm happy to see the Coyote Diamond again, and surprised to see it planted (for some reason) in the newest Coyote robot. Is this the first time the Diamond has been put into Coyote or has every version of him contained the Diamond? Just another question this chapter leaves us asking.
- I love how Shari's tales are told to us in sepia tones and scrolls. One has to ask where she is learning all this (particularly the Coldtrio stuff), but I like the way it is shown and told. Which leads me to the art of the book. I always liked Hedgecock's work from Issue #1, and I think he is getting better and better. Hedgecock maybe hasn't been drawing Gargoyles characters for the past eleven years, but he is catching up fast, IMHO. This is absolutely his best issue so far, and I'm glad to see him back on the book regularly. Great stuff.
- Who would've thought we'd be seeing Gruoch this soon in the comic, and who would've thought we'd EVER see the little green gargoyle from Demona's Clan (a fan favorite, I think) in the comic! Cool cameos.
- Ah, the never ending drama of Brooklyn, Broadway and Angela. This slow boiling plot is getting awfully fun to watch. I think I've said it in nearly every review so far, so I can't leave out a "Poor Brooklyn"... Seems Goliath is starting to get wise to the situation as well. And since when can Broadway just say he and Angela are gonna stay in Manhattan when Goliath has more or less ordered them to accompany Macbeth? Ah well. Speaking of Goliath, we get a nice follow-up to the Elisa-Goliath Halloween story. Well done. It really says something when fictional characters cause such an emotional reaction for the reader/viewer. And not to leave out Talon and Maggie the Cat, who may be expecting a Mutate-ling in a few months. When Sato mentioned Maggie's "condition" I wondered if maybe she was preggers, though I though maybe we are just talking about the Mutate thing in general. Then with the mention of "O.B." I got excited. Cool stuff. Nice to see that Elisa is taking advantage of Dr. Sato's expertise after the revelation to him in "Bash". Ya know, it's refreshing to think that years ago when I wrote a review for "Deadly Force" I mentioned something about how I'd love to see Dr. Sato become a friend of the Clan. Sort of the antithesis of Sevarius. Very fun.
- Still have no idea what is up with Fox's shoes. Guess I'll wait til Issue #9 to talk about that. But seriously, Xanatos is a multi-billionaire, just buy the damn shoes, hell, buy the STORE! No biggie.
- I like that gargoyles "jetlag" and I like that that is canon-ized now. I also think it's fun that Hudson and Lex can feel it. Macbeth is fun here too. It's like he keeps waiting for them to wake up and is thinking the are a bit late and a bit more late and a bit more late and finally he gets his look like "Ummm... you guys gonna wake up or not?" Long time to stand there drinking coffee.
- I guess I shouldn't have been surprised to see the London Clan once we ended up in London, but I was a bit. Arthur was a bit of a surprise as well. I guess the most surprising thing was the APPEARENCE of the two London Clan members we could see clearly (it looks to me like the third in the foreground is Griff, we'll see). All these years Greg has said that Unicorns, Lions and Griffons were all we'd get. Now we see a stag-like dude and a (very cool) boar-like female. I dunno if Greg's comments were simply along the lines of "I don't want to tie the hands of the artists" or if he was just being totally elusive and deceitful, but either way it led to a great and fun ending to the book. Very very cool.
- So, overall a great book. Great writing, great reveals, great mysteries, great art. There were no errors I could find save one, in "Etched in Stone" Greg writes "Clan Building, Chapter Five: Reunion" when of course he means Chapter Six. That is one error I can live with. Looking to the trade paperback, Bad Guys #2 and Gargoyles #8. What a great time to be a Gargoyles-fan!!!
That's also an error I can take FULL responsibility for, which is as it should be. I'm the only one who should be screwing up the book! ;)
Anyway, in prepping this three-parter and Pendragon, I've given a lot more detailed thought to the London Clan. More revelations to come, obviously.
I do feel I missed a bet on the Macbeth waiting page. There should have been a panel right before the last panel on the page showing only the stone Lex and Hudson and no Macbeth. The copy would have read as follows:
CAPTION 1: NOVEMBER 3, 6:44PM GMT.
CAPTION 2: BATHROOM BREAK.
How is it that the Manhatten, Guatamalen, and London clans have flourished by 2198? 5 individuals (with only one female) is hardly enough for a proper breeding pool... let alone 2 males and one female.
The Mayan Clan has a rookery full of eggs.
The London Clan -- well, let's just say you've ONLY seen three of its members. There are many more on their estate.
The Manhattan Clan... stay tuned.
Was Una named after Lady Una from Spencer's The Faerie Queene, or simply because she was based on a unicorn?
Largely the latter, but I read Faerie Queene in college, so it may have been an influence.
This day in Gargoyles' Universe History....
A crisis brings together representatives of four clans.
Lexington continues his journey.
at the end of M.I.A there's a guy walking by playing on a Gameboy (not looking like the real one for legal issues or what?). The game he's playing looks so much like "Solar Striker". This can't be a coincidence, can it?
Oh... speaking of M.I.A. Una has a line like "I know the books I'm selling". Do the customers know, the books of the store actually contain real spells?
I'm not a gamer, so I can't answer your first question.
As to your second question, I'd say some do and some don't.
i just watched "MIA" last night. i wrote down some notes:
- first off, the English gargoyles. for years i didn't like them, i mean physically. they seemed so different from the other gargs around the world and they looked like birds, lions and horses. that really irked me, but i've gotten over it. i started to think of different reasons they look like they do, and Greg had some theories as well, so i'm ok wth it now, and frankly, they are now my favorite gargoyle race to draw. i find them really neat. i did notice that they are the only gargs we've seen whose eyes seem to be tinted when NOT glowing. Leo and Griff's eyes were tinted tannish-gold and Una's were more light blue. interesting.
- it made me sad for years that there were only three gargoyles in the English Clan. i remember thinking to myself that they were another clan that was dying out, just like the Manhattan Clan. much to my surprise and excitement, i discovered the fandom online and soon discovered a whole Clan was never seen on the show! and they are one of the more populated Clans at that! very cool.
- it always amazes me how good a likeness of Griff and Goliath those statues are... guess Leo, Una and the pilots had excellant memories.
- when the English thugs surround Elisa i think how rascist they must be against her. kinda feel sorry for them... esspecially when the gargs kick their @$$! i LOVE Angela's line, "Surely we were sent her for something more important than this..." she gets that from her mother i think,
- i remember thinking that it was weird that Angela instantly recognized Leo and Una as gargoyles. esspecially because they were robed and she had recently been tricked by Raven. plus Leo and Una look so different than most gargoyles. maybe she smelled them or something. or maybe she was somehow familiar with the idea of what English gargs looked like.
- i like how comfortable Leo and Una are around humans. so used to them. its certaintly new to not see humans running away in fear of gargs.
- good touch when Goliath transports into the 1940 sky and falls cuz he was standing up. kinda like having the rug pulle dout from under you.
- i instantly love Griff when he saves Goliath from a propellor blade and says, "You know old boy, that could've been a bit nasty!" love his accent, hes great, i love Griff!
- when Griff honors Leo and Una for "minding the store" i think about how Hudson and Bronx are always left behind and how that is honorable too.
- when Goliath and Griff take on the pilots its great animation, it reminds me of the Trio taking on the Pack's helicopter. i like these sky battles, i guess.
- every time i see Goliath's wing get shot, i cringe. "OW!" thats gotta hurt, i mean theres a hole in his wing!
- destiny really had it out for Griff, one thing after another tried to kill him. i remember i was a little afraid that Goliath would be unable to prevent his death and hjave to go back to tell Leo and Una how Griff had died. fortunatly, Goliath was smart enough to get out of the warzone and back to the 90s.
- and back in the 90s theres a reunion, but a weird and awkward one. talk about your love triangles. Una is stuck between the gargoyle she loved in her youth and has been missing for so many years and the gargoyle who has been her companion for all those years! it doesn't help that Griff and Leo are such good friends either. its an ugly situation, i think and i totally understand why Griff would want to stay with King Arthur, but thats a story for another day...
Glad you came around to liking the London clan. Maybe we can explore them more in the future...
1. you've said before that Una, Leo and Griff hatched in 1898. Leo and Una haved aged normally, but Griff was pulled forward in time 55 years or so. so, the closest generation in biological age to Griff is the rookery that hatched in 1958, correct? that would make him just slightly biologically older than Brooklyn, but not as old as Goliath, right?
2. will Griff find a new mate since Una is with Leo now (and WAY too old for him)?
3. you once mentioned that "The Three" taught the London Clan the nursery ryhme about King Arthur that Griff quoted in "Pendragon". who were/are "The Three"?
4. how much time was there between when Goliath brought Griff to the modern age (MIA) and when Arthur showed up in London (Pendragon)?
1. In 1996, Goliath was biologically 29. The Trio were biologically 19. Griff was biologically 22. That would put him closer in biological age to Sora (hatched in 1958) then Yama (hatched in 1938).
2. One would hope.
3. I just tried to search through the archives for "The Three" and couldn't find an appropo reference. But I think I've covered this before... if not, I guess I'm revealing something... the three I assume you're referring to are Morgana le Fey, Nimue and the Lady of the Lake.
4. Griff gated to the present on January 24th, 1996. Arthur arrived in London on May 18th, 1996. (Though he and Griff didn't actually meet until after midnight, i.e. on May 19th.)
Almost every gargoyle clan we've meet in the show or that you've us about protects something. The Guatemalan clan protects the rain forest. The Loch Ness clan protects the Loch Ness Monster, the Manhattan, London and Ishimura clan naturally protects New York City, London and Ishimura respectively. And the Avalon clan protects Avalon while the Labyrinth clan presently protect the homeless of New York.
1. So what does the New Olympus clan protect? Mount Thanatos? The whole of New Olympus? Or have they abandoned their duty much like the London clan when they lost Griff(since you did say they were isolationists)?
2.What does the Pukhan and Xanadu clans protect?
3.What exactly do New Camelot and New Wyvern clans protect?
4.What abou the Queen Florence Island Clan(after they've been freed from their stasis)?
5.What about the Notre Dame Clan?
1. I think they have become too insular. It's something I would have made an issue of, given the chance.
2. Pukhan Clan is more interested in protecting their concept of justice. Xanadu Clan protects the endangered Gargoyle Beast species.
3. New Wyvern is very traditionalist. So they protect Wyvern and it's surroundings. By contrast, New Camelot is very internationalist.
4 & 5. Haven't gotten that far in my thinking yet, but at the least they'll protect the Island and Paris, respectively.
I can not remember the name of the Unicorn Gargoyle in London. What was her name?
(Did you really wait 20 months to get that question answered? Next time, you might try the Comment Room. Most any garg fan could have answered that for you.)
Time to ramble...
Haven't done this in a while (over a year, actually), and I definitely feel rusty. Anyway, I watched "M.I.A." last night with my wife Beth, my nine-year-old daughter Erin and my six-year-old son Benny.
This episode was directed by Kazuo Terada, story edited by Gary Sperling and written by Robert Cohen.
The (semi) one word title, as usual, was one of mine. (As was the springboard, but more on that later.) It's appropriate both because of Griff's disappearance and because of the wartime setting. Although I don't know if they actually used the M.I.A. acronym as far back as WWII. I associate it with Vietnam. Does anyone else know?
Benny read the title and thought it said Mia. He has a friend named Mia, whose birthday party he had gone to earlier in the day. So the title required a bit of explaining.
INTO THE MYSTIC
This was one of my ideas that I really fell in love with. The idea that a magic shop never goes out of style. The idea that these gargoyles have been running this shop right in the midst of London's teeming humanity for a millenium. I just love the idea that you could stop by there in 1940 or 1996 or 1809 or 1776 or 1595 or whenever. Different gargoyles manning the store, of course. But the store itself largely remains the same. It's a place where Lennox Macduff and Will Shakespeare might have ended up after a night of carousing together.
My notion, which I've stated here before, is that the London Clan has an estate in the burbs, and that the shop helps fund them.
Responding to the guys line about the shopkeepers having "incredible" masks, Benny takes a good look at Una and says: "That's a unicorn. A real one."
And Erin: "Those aren't masks."
Of course, these kids have both seen the episode before. But it was so long ago and they were so young it's like they're seeing it for the first time.
We get some gorgeous shots of London. So gorgeous that when the animation on PENDRAGON came back weeks later looking not so good, we reused some of the "M.I.A." footage for that ep.
[Of course the animation here was done by Walt Disney Television Animation Japan, GARG's Best studio. It still kills me that Disney has shut down that unit. They did SUCH great stuff.]
Elisa talks to the Cabbie. In my mind, this Cabbie appears during the 1940 sequence as a little boy, running downstairs and into a bomb shelter with his sister. It's not important, but that's how I saw it.
And we explain (include) another legend. That of Gremlins. Not Gremlins from the Spielbergian movie. But gremlins that caused damage to airplanes during the war. This was/is a very famous legend among pilots. Roald Dahl (of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fame) wrote a book about them, which Walt Disney himself optioned. Eisner once had us develop a tv series based on the idea. I handed it off to a couple of producers who COMPLETELY redeveloped the idea. They came up with a good show, but it was unrecognizable to Eisner. (It also had a toupee joke, which probably didn't go over well.) Anyway, he didn't buy it.
Actual racists thugs. We didn't do much of that. We usually went with anti-gargoyle types, who were metaphors for racists. But here we actually go with the real thing.
Their attack is very reminiscent of Awakening 3.
I love Brigitte's work here. Angela sounds like a tough warrior one minute, like a naive innocent the next. All within her character.
And that shot of Bronx leaping down from the roof is just gorgeous.
Leo and Una come out and confront Goliath, whose confusion is a lot of fun.
They're all in conflict, but everyone can agree with Elisa to take the argument inside...
We go inside and see the portrait of Griff.
Benny makes a connection: "There's a statue of him on the airplane."
I love Una's line: "I know my merchandise."
Throughout this episode, I think she comes across a bit like a junior Demona. I don't know if I felt that way at the time. But we have a female garg with sorcerous powers in denial about her own feelings of guilt and rewriting history to blame Goliath for things that were really not his fault.
Una was in love with Griff. And still is. But in the interrum, in my mind, she mated with Leo. She LOVES Leo. But she never got over being IN LOVE WITH Griff.
Two of them.
One is having Goliath black out and instead of using it as our act break, we just go to black, wait a beat and then come back. We had a much better act break coming up, so I guess I don't regret it, but I also don't like it much.
The other awkward moment is giving Goliath that voice over of his interior thoughts, where he states his plan to use the Gate to figure out what the hell happened in 1940. I'm sure I resisted doing that VO. But we just didn't have a better solution.
I do love Goliath's frustrated: "I don't know any Griff!" line.
G uses the gate and Benny asks "What did he just do?" Beth explains it to him, but it illustrates my point that it has been so long since the kids last saw an ep, that their memories of the show are very vague.
We meet Clive and Douglas Bader. I've stated this before, but Douglas Bader was a real person. A true war hero. Douglas Bader lost both his legs in a plane crash, and became a war hero and fighter ace AFTER he recovered and learned to walk on two artificial pins. He was a hero during the Battle of Britain. Later, he was shot down over enemy territory and put in a POW camp. He escaped twice but was recaptured both times. Years later, he was knighted.
I met him once. My father, Wally Weisman, is a real Spitfire afficionado, and Bader was one of his heroes. My dad eventually met Sir Douglas in London and at the RAF Museum outside London. When I was a kid, Sir Douglas and his wife came to Los Angeles and we all went to Disneyland together. He never used a wheelchair. Always just moved along with his hip-swinging walk. An amazing man.
So there was no way I wasn't going to pay tribute to him here (and indirectly to my father as well -- in my mind, this ep is dedicated to my dad). I gave Gary Sperling the Bader biography, "REACH FOR THE SKIES," knowing that it would be tough for him to incorporate much into the episode. But we tried to base the design of Bader on one of his photographs. And we made sure that his first and last name were both used in dialogue so that he could be indentified by those paying attention.
And most of all, we tried to show that these pilots were the true heroes. Sure, Goliath and Griff save them. But Bader saves the gargoyles too, and he's the one who takes out the most dangerous of the Nazi fighter pilots.
This was important to me. Influenced by both Dahl's Gremlins book and my father and Bader, I'd wanted to do a Battle of Britain story pretty much since the series' inception. It's even listed in the bible. This came out of the notion we once had that (while the other gargoyles may have been asleep for a thousand years) Goliath had been awake and alone for 1000 years.
Imagine, if you will, that scene in Awakening-2, when Goliath comes back and finds Hudson, Bronx and the Trio asleep. Instead of joining them, he watches over them for a millenium. (This was back when we had a more magical view of Garg biology.) I thought Goliath would have largely spent a thousand years brooding. But that during WWII he might have ventured forth to fight the Nazis, if for no other reason than to prevent the bombing of Wyvern.
We, obviously, didn't end up going that way, but the visual of Gargoyles fighting in the Battle of Britain stuck with me. (And man, is that visual brought to life here beautifully.)
But having decided to do that, I didn't want to give the gargs all the credit. Real men and women gave their lives during the Battle of Britain. I didn't want to undercut their contribution in order to make my fictional gargs look good. That just seemed like it would be both irresponsible and disrespectful. A betrayal of the very reasons why we were doing the ep in the first place.
Casting... we had used Neil Dickson to tremendous evil effect as Duncan and Canmore in City of Stone. Here he gets to play Errol Flynn. Neil is a Brit. As is Charles Shaugnessy who played Bader and Sara Douglas who played Una. (Leo/Gregg Berger, on the other hand, is a Yank.) And they all really brought life to their respective roles. I have to admit I was worried about whether Neil would be right for the role. I should no better, but Duncan especially was so memorable, I really had that fixed in my head. But Neil's voice just worked perfectly for Griff. I'm still sorry we didn't get to see more of Griff with King Arthur in the Pendragon spin-off.
Griff was conceived as a real swashbuckling hero. A Robin Hood of the 1940s. As opposed to our rough-hewn "Scottish stock", this was a good-old-fashioned patriotic English Hero to put up against the Nazis. His costume was influenced, I think by the Blackhawks. And his look was inspired by British Heraldry. He was the Griffin to Una's unicorn and Leo's lion, three of the most striking heraldic beasts. Again, going back to my earliest development of the series, I thought that adaptations of heraldic beasts might be the English version of gargoyles. So Griff has Eagle and Lion qualities. Feathered wings. A mohawk-like main. An eagle-like beak, but lionesque limbs.
I know that Greg Guler, Frank Paur and I went over and over Griff's model. We were never 100% satisfied with it. But it must work, as I've never any complaints from the fan. And I think Neil (and Jamie Thomason's voice direction) deserve much of the credit for that. Because even with the great Japanese animation, he still looks a bit too Foghorn Leghorn for my tastes.
Goliath (after Griff saves his life): "It was supposed to work the other way."
Erin: "I think this is how it started in the first place."
So, hey, she got it!!
Benny even jumped ahead, figuring out: "So he can take Griff back forward in time."
So he got it too. Did you guys get it right from the beginning? That Goliath would take Griff "back forward" to the present to reunite him with Leo and Una?
I love the scene between Griff, Leo, Una and Goliath over tea in the shop. Everyone's motivations are so clear that I often use this scene when I do voice seminars.
Griff wants to sell everyone on going on the offensive.
Leo wants to sell everyone on sticking with defense.
Una is more subtle. She'll use any argument that will promote Griff's safety.
Goliath is trying to stay out of trouble.
But I love his line: "In my experience, human problems become Gargoyle problems." How true... (witness the cancellation of the show...)
And then later, Goliath AGAIN realizes a lesson that he and the audience would have to relearn again and again. Fate cannot be cheated. History cannot be changed.
And once again, we show our lack of imagination and/or our desire to stick with something once we find it works by using the line "Not where, when."
We can say "1940" but we were discouraged from referring to the present by an actual year -- so that reruns would still sound current. I'm surprised that Goliath got to use the phrase "the 1990s". How short-sighted of Disney to not think we'd still be airing these reruns in the 21st Century. Not that I'm complaining, mind you.
Griff almost gets hit by a car in the present and Goliath says "Let's not start that again." A mini-tribute to the English Vultures in "A Jungle Book".
At the very end, Elisa's confusion is fun: "Just explain it one more time." That probably came out of my fear that the audience might not get it. If Elisa didn't get it either, the audience wouldn't have to feel so bad about it.
Everything I could have asked for.
I have a VERY vague memory that we were discouraged from using Swastikas. I can't remember why or even if this is true.
But the skull-like pilot with the skull & crossbones on his plane certainly looks like a bad guy, doesn't he?
The planes themselves just look great. I found out later that Bader didn't fly Spitfires during the Battle of Britain. He flew Spitfires later, but flew Hurricanes during the Blitz. This fact drives me crazy.
But I love his line about the Gargoyles (which in my mind, he viewed as Gremlins): "They're real, and they're on our side!"
Benny noticed that they shot a hole through Goliath's wing. I had to reassure him that he'd be okay after getting some stone sleep.
Parachutes. No one dies in this episode. At least not in theory. Of course, we KNOW people died during the Blitz. But we couldn't show or even imply that.
THE WORLD TOUR
We end of course by creating new heroes out of old. Griff has returned. And Leo and Una have been reinvigorated. They take back their neighborhood.
Leo: "Or we'll make it our business." Leo's spent years worried only about business. Now he remembers what his business is supposed to be. The nation of shopkeepers is once again ready to defend the realm. So to speak.
Anyway, that's my ramble. Where's yours?