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Greg Bishansky writes...

"Gargoyles, Clan Building Chapter Twelve: Phoenix"

Okay, first of all, that cover. I really don't like that cover. It's well drawn, well colored, and it certainly gets the point across. But, a "Star Wars" joke? Really? It'd be funnier and I might like it more if we haven't seen several hundred thousand of them. Everyone makes "Star Wars" jokes, and quite frankly, they were played well before Kevin Smith started doing it. But, aw well, I understand I'm in the minority and people enjoy them. But... I personally could do without them. Still, a beautiful cover on its own merits.

Okay, now, with that, my only real gripe out of the way, let's jump into the story.

That art is terrific. A little too manga-esque in some panels, but I like it. Nice, detailed, but still evoking the series.

The battle itself is brutal. I always loved the flashbacks in "City of Stone" and "Avalon Part One." As I said in my previous review, I'm a sucker for this kind of stuff. So, this entire three-parter has been a real geekgasm.

Brooklyn and Demona's interactions are fun to watch. Demona is just as bitter as she was in the "City of Stone" flashbacks, but here she seems a lot more power hungry. Whereas in "City of Stone" she seemed more content to just survive. Of course, she never had the Grimorum in her, or close to being in her grasp in "City of Stone."

Speaking of Demona, it is so good to see her again. Okay, we had glimpses of her in "Invitation Only" and "Estranged." But, out of all the things I've been waiting for since these comics were first announced, she was at the top of my list. I read her, and it's just her. I can hear Marina Sirtis' voice in every line of dialogue. She is brutal, violent, power hungry, passionate, and cold. This is Demona, and I haven't seen her since 1996. How I've missed her. Okay, technically this is, as Brooklyn said, Demona Classic and not Modern Demona. But still, it's great.

As the battle goes on, Kenneth III's young son, Bodhe, cowers in the brush. I see some things never change. Come on, Bodhe, this is the Dark Ages. Many younger than you are now have faced much worse. I'd say grow a pair, but I know your future.

Speaking of futures, Gillecomgain at fifteen is just as merciless as he'll be as an adult. Gleefully trying to kill the young Bodhe on Constantine's orders. "Tonight is the Hunter's Moon! Be a hunter for your king!" Heh heh heh... so, Gillecomgain's scars inspired Constantine, and Constantine inspired Gillecomgain. They're both so twisted... I love it.

And Findlaech points out to Mail Brigti what we've been seeing all along. Gillecomgain is no longer his son. And now we also learn that Findlaech and Brigti are half-brothers, which would make Gillecomgain Macbeth's cousin. That also adds a whole new layer to their dynamic. I read that Gillecomgain and Macbeth were cousins, but I didn't think this was the case in the Gargoyles Universe. Glad to see that worked in.

And as the battle proceeds, we get one of the coolest sequences we've ever seen in "Gargoyles"... comic or show. Brother Valmont uses the Grimorum to rain magical, fiery arrows from the sky. "Rain of Death" and he's not kidding. Demona's Second's mate is killed. Countless soldiers are killed. Mail Brigti is killed. Even Magus the horse is killed... that bastard. It comes to an end when Brooklyn takes the Grimorum from Valmont... and Valmont's hand as well. Ouch.

Hmm, let's see here. Brother Valmont is bald, wears green, has a French surname, clearly has no loyalty to Constantine or anyone else in this battle, and now he has no hand. Didn't we meet a bald guy who wears green, has a French surname, and a cybernetic hand in "The Rock of Ages"? And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Demona grabs the Grimorum and is finally able to put a stop to Valmont's Rain of Death. The battle is over. Gillecomgain blames Findlaech for his father's death... but Findlaech spares Gilly. Famous last words there, Findlaech

Constantine and Kenneth III's duel finally comes to an end. Kenneth declaring that if he falls, Maol Chalvim will rise to take his place... that just amused the hell out of me, probably more than it even amused Constantine. "Yes, such is his ambition." Constantine understands Maol Chalvim far better than Kenneth III does. The two men are a lot more alike than Kenneth will realize until it's too late. God, I love Scottish history.

But, once Constantine threatens Bodhe one time too many, Kenneth III ends the duel... permanently. And so ends the short reign of Constantine the Bald. May his soul burn in the deepest level of Hell. Amen.

With the battle over, the phoenix once again appears. Brooklyn knows Demona well enough to know that he can't just let her keep the Grimorum. I love the little gambit he plays. "I need your half of the Gate to try to control it, here, let me hold the book for you."

And while Mary and Finella beg Brooklyn to take them with him, we cut back to 1997.

Brooklyn disappeared forty seconds ago, leaving a worried Angela and Broadway. But suddenly he returns, and he's not alone.

Back at the castle, Goliath is greeted by Lexington and Broadway, who have returned from London, bringing with them Coldstone and Coldfire, who have finally come to rejoin the clan. While Angela and Broadway call them to the Great Hall to meet Brooklyn and his new companions.

Oh, I'm sorry, did I say companions? We meet Brooklyn's mate, Katana; their son, Nashville (or Gnash for short); their beast, Fu-Dog; and their egg. Brooklyn himself is now older. Turns out he's been time traveling for forty years (which would make him the gargoyle equivalent of twenty years older. He's wearing armor similar to what he wore in "Future Tense" and is armed to the teeth with two guns, the broadsword he acquired in Scotland, and a katana. Oh, and he's lost his left eye, and is sporting an eye-patch.

Is Brooklyn a big Nick Fury fan? ;)

As the gargoyles celebrate, and meet and greet. Elisa arrives to inform everyone that Jackal busted Wolf and Hyena out of Rikers and they're on a rampage in Times Square. So, the gargoyles decide to go kick their asses.

And in Goliath's final thought monologue, we get the double meaning of the title. The Manhattan Clan is rising again. Once a shattered clan of six, their numbers have doubled.

"Clan Building" has concluded. But, some things never end. One way or another, they'll be back.

Now, to comment on a few things. I loved Katana's design. Nice to finally see a beaked female. I wish we had gotten one line of dialogue from her, but you can't have everything. My friend, Robby Bevard, the colorist, told me that he had the honor of designing her. Now, I knew Robby back when he was just a fan artist drawing for "Gargoyles" fanfiction. So, this is definitely a dream come true for him. He got to design the one character who everyone has been waiting twelve years to see.

So, let's see, the Manhattan Clan now consists of: Goliath, Brooklyn, Lexington, Broadway, Hudson, Angela, Katana, Nashville, Coldstone, Coldfire, Bronx, Fu-Dog, and Elisa Maza (yes, I count her). That's a pretty big cast. But, as Greg has often demonstrated, if anyone can balance casts of thousands, he's the guy.

Now, there's a lot of things to wonder. What will happen next for starters?

What is Thailog up to with their DNA?
What is Demona currently up to, and when will she strike?
Are Wolf, Jackal and Hyena a match for all these gargoyles? I think they'll need another upgrade ;)
Will there be any fallout with the gargoyles and Xanatos after what happened in London?
What will Talon and Maggie's baby be?

These and so many other questions may not be answered for a while, but we have things to look forward to should "Gargoyles" get another shot one day, and I sincerely hope it does.

But, in the mean time, we have the graphic novel for "Gargoyles: Bad Guys" with two issues of new material to look forward to soon. I can't wait.

Greg responds...

I'm glad you liked it. Sorry, the cover didn't work for you. It was less a "joke" to me then an homage. The parallels made it like too good an opportunity to miss.

Response recorded on December 10, 2009