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ROCK OF AGES
Finally. That's a word to describe both the feeling of the wait for this chapter, and for my writing my review/ramble--two weeks after I got the darn thing.
For anyone who worries about that sort of thing:
Well, the first panel of page one is obviously spoken by Hudson...and by the reference to "the banished and the badduns" I guessed he was referring to Coldsteel. But in regards to what? With the second panel, however, we're right back where we left off (over a YEAR ago), and I'm ready to see the rest...until page two, which begins with yet ANOTHER clip of Fox's shoe adventure. #%*&^$ SHOES! It's a good thing I'm going to find out in this chapter what the %#^$ those shoes have to do with all this!
And now Arthur is saying that maybe the heroes don't need to guard the Stone...which would render this whole adventure nearly superfluous! Of course, it's easy for Arthur to say that--he got to look at the dang Stone! Here I was, fearing that something bad might have happened to him in the last issue when Macbeth turned around and he wasn't there, and he just went to have a peek. Jerk.
I liked the use of the parallel columns on page four to show the simultaneous occurrence of events both in the Lantern of the Abby with Arthur, and in the skies with Lex and Amp. Arthur apologizes to the poor guards he had to knock out. Gee, that's nice of him. It's interesting how he also takes the time to put his crown (or is it a coronet?) on his head before he opens the chest containing the Stone. Does he think the Stone won't recognize him without it? Or does he just not feel right addressing the Stone without it?
An interesting note about the Steel/Iron Clan POV shots on page five: they seem to see in different colors. The Iron Clan robot sees in a red tint, while the Steel Clan's view is colored in green. Kind of interesting. Also, I like how the robots are programmed to recognize Lexington by name, but refer to the others as "U.G." ("Unidentified Gargoyle" I'd guess) 1-3.
Love Coco's indignation at Amp stealing the robot's attention. For a slight change of pace, instead of maneuvering the robots into hitting each other like the gargs usually do on the show, Lex and Amp instead lure them into Coyote's line of fire and have THAT robot do the work. Nice variation on a classic move.
Hmmm. On page six, we see Coldfire, in Tibet, reacting to some sort of signal at 6:01 AM on Nov. 13. Going back to the exact same page (six) of Issue #8, we see Xanatos push a button in London at 10:00 PM on Nov. 12, which given the eight hour time difference, means that he pushed that button about a minute before Coldfire received the signal that apparently led her and Coldstone to Coldsteel.
...XANATOS CALLED IN COLDSTONE AND COLDFIRE! I KNEW IT! And now he has a way to talk himself out of any possible trouble he could get into with the clan for this little escapade.
When Coyote covers its and Coldsteel's departure, it seems to generate a bright light using the Coyote Diamond. Seriously, the 6th panel on page six shows the Diamond compartment opening and light coming from it. Just felt like mentioning it.
That's Macbeth in Robert the Bruce's army, isn't it? Makes sense. Just as it makes sense that Shari has kissed the Blarney Stone that grants the "gift of gab" a couple of times.
I love the shot of Mac and Arthur on either side of a smiling Xanatos. "Well, it's a momentous occasion...and such a lovely day." Ah, Xanatos...how I have missed your inimitable style.
Coldstone and Coldfire fight Coldsteel over the Coldstream river...you just couldn't resist that, could you, Greg?
RE: Coldsteel holding Coldfire with his tentacles. Okay, what is it about tentacles? Even when they're metallic, there's still something..."naughty" about them. Look, on page ten, Coldsteel even uses one to caress Coldfire's face (right before she head-butts him in HIS face--YOU GO GIRL!). Those things fit his slimy personality quite well.
I really like the look on Coldfire's face when she blasts Coldsteel. Seriously, Xanatos's folks at Scarab Corporation deserve kudos for how expressive the completely robotic faces of Coldfire and Coldsteel seem to be.
(*spit take*) A CHAINSAW?! Coyote the ROBOT is armed with a CHAINSAW?! Okay. He just upped his "cool quotient" considerably.
Coyote calls Xanatos by his first name. For some reason I find that interesting. Of course, it could just be to get the rather ironic phrase "Out of DAVID'S respect for GOLIATH..." but still....
Okay. The way that Coldstone took out Coyote=WIN! Seriously, the punch through the mouth/view-screen/Xanatos-Skull-face was SO COOL, that even the red lights serving as the Coyote-head's eyes managed to look surprised! Look at 'em! They went wide!
The parallel of the two times Coldsteel commented on Coyote's "potential," was neat, as was Coyote's mention that he's not programmed for free will. That last part is a bit foreboding, too--Xanatos better be careful.
Based on the timestamps it looks like Coldstone was searching for Coldsteel for about a half-hour. Dedicated.
And so the Stone finally arrives in Scotland. OR DOES IT? The Land Rover (I finally know what it is now, thanks to your Radio Play Script, Greg) arrives at a warehouse where Xanatos is waiting. A little over three hours later (plenty of time for David to get into mischief...) a VERY high-ranking female Illuminatus arrives to take the Land Rover and...a DUPLICATE STONE?! Wait, what?! The Land Rover was rigged to flip the Stone's Container and replace it with a fake while the band covered the noise?! HOLY $#^%! All that crap with the robots was just a distraction? My mind has just been blown by the genius that is Xanatos!
But what was all that about the Bomb Squad? Wait...a shoebox. The shoebox Fox's new shoes came in? All that stuff about Fox's shoes was just so Xanatos could get a SHOEBOX to put on the bridge and stop the convoy long enough to make the switch?!
ARRRRGH! (*mind is blown again*)
But wait, doesn't this mean that the good guys lost? Well....
The mysterious woman (until I hear her name in canon I will call her #3) drives the Land Rover to a mist enshrouded Castle (that will later be identified as Carbonek). Something odd I noticed--the driver's side in the Land Rover is on the left side, but most cars in Britain have the RIGHT side as the driver's side, don't they? Is it just a peculiarity of the Land Rover's design? Oh well, at least she drives on the left side of the street.
And now we meet a bald, cyborg-type guy who reveals himself as...#2?! DUVAL?! Ghu--buh--WHAT?! #3 really doesn't seem to like Duval, but before they get into a spat, some good-looking blond guy comes up and calls them the two people he loves most in the world. Wait...is this...#1?
Thailog looks very pleased at being able to check Shari in chess. Sad to say, though, that the time stamp for this on page 18 seems to be in error. It reads "Nov. 13, 5:40 AM," but that was the exact same time stamp for Shari's story about Edward I on page 3. I'm pretty sure the stamp is supposed to read "Nov. 15, 5:43 AM."
Unfortunately, there's another (slightly lesser) time stamp error on the next page: I'm pretty sure Arthur's conversation with the stone was supposed to be marked "1:06 AM." It's all the more a pity this issue didn't get a single release, because I'm sure then the errors would have been corrected in time for the trade.
Anyway, I liked the Stone healing itself and then THANKING Macbeth, but mentioning how it was pointless. "Pointless" seems to be the Stone's word of choice for all the efforts and machinations people have been making about it.
The stone is talking to Arthur at 1:06 AM, but the panel on page two shows Arthur looking in on the Stone at 12:18 AM. Okay...that is a LONG time to just stand there and look at a stone (even if it is glowing...). Did they have a whole conversation before the Stone got to its speech or something? At least now we know why Arthur said that maybe they didn't need to protect the Stone--the Stone itself told him it was pointless.
XANATOS WAS GOING TO TRY TO PULL A SWITCH ON THE ILLUMINATI! Damn, man. Xanatos, you've blown my mind enough times this issue. Please, let me rest for a bit before you do it again. According to a ramble from Greg, it seems that the Stone straight out telling Xanatos how pointless it was to do such a thing managed to dissuade X. And Xanatos is SMILING as the Rock talks to him. Neat.
"Peredur fab Ragnal?" Wait, Ragnal was the name of Sir Gawain's wife in some legends, and Greg likes the idea that Percival is the (bastard) son of Gawain, so...AHA! I see...Peredur is the ORIGINAL WELSH name of Percival. Okay, makes sense...wait, doesn't this mean he and Duval are NOT the same, and thus that Greg actually changed his plans? (Of course, I've already heard your rather cryptic comment at the Gathering, Greg, so I know there's more going on here than meets the eye...).
And now the big speech. The two page spread that inspired Greg to make this a non-linear story. What can I say? It's fantastic (well, my original thoughts were more along the lines of "(censored) COOL!"). The Stone reveals itself to be a lot more than any of the players (or we members of the audience suspected). One thing I love here are the facial expressions: the wonderment on Macbeth's face, Xanatos's intrigued look (he just eats this stuff up, doesn't he?), the solemn expression on Arthur's face, and Peredur (who the Rock mocked for his efforts)...the only word I can use to describe his expression is "shock." I wonder what is so special about 1:07 (whether AM or PM) that the Stone felt the need to make this exact same speech at that exact time across several different days (or decades in one case). And did the stone just give the same speech on four separate occasions, or did it just give ONE speech at four separate times simultaneously?
"Do not dream of possessing me, mortal." Nice.
Peredur doesn't seem happy to hear that his old boss is awake again. Something about being 200 years too early. Hmmm, now what could possibly happen around the year 2196 or so that would--oh, yeah, right. #3 also seems surprised by this revelation and leaves quietly before Peredur even notices her. This pretty much convinced me that she was that Blanchefleur woman I had been reading about in Ask Greg, a suspicion confirmed by the Radio Play script. But, until she is referred to by that name in the comic, I will continue to call her #3.
I LOVE the informal "Hey" the Stone and the Grail (which I assume the simple, wooden bowl is) give each other. After that huge show of majesty and antiquity the Stone just gave, this casual greeting is just so funny!
When Coldsteel gives Xanatos back the Coyote Diamond, Xanatos says that he's "just its minder." What could he mean by that?
Hudson, and Lex decide to stay with the London Clan for a while. I love the group shot there (awww, Lunette is just so gosh darn cute!). Coldstone seems about to argue that he and Coldfire should continue to pursue Coldsteel, but Hudson...says what we read at the beginning of the chapter. A nice philosophical bit for him, and hey, if it gets Coldstone and Coldfire to rejoin the Manhattan clan, so much the better!
Thailog checkmates Shari! I don't know why, but for some reason I like that Thailog beat Shari at chess (this is the same game they've been playing for the past few nights, right?). Of course, he was playing the white side, which has a slight strategic advantage due to having the first move. Let's see him beat her while he's playing the black side, and then I'll be really impressed.
And, just for a bit of a "full circle" feeling, Shari ends the chapter and the story arc...by beginning to tell the story arc we just read. Okay, seriously, HOW DOES SHE KNOW THIS? Is she just psychic like that or something? I am very interested in what secrets she holds.
On the art side of things, this looks great overall. Granted, in panel 1 of page fifteen, Xanatos seems to have an overly large head in comparison to his body, but otherwise the art is nice. And the two-page spread from 20-21 is just awesome.
So, that's the story of the Stone of Destiny. We got a lot of great new characters, and some interesting new plot developments. A lot of questions, too. What is going on with Peredur and the Illuminati? Why were Thailog and Shari in Dominique Destine's office on the 3rd? And what were they and Brentwood looking for in Saint Damien's Cathedral on the 6th?
I look forward to learning the answers in the future.
Glad you liked it. (And believe me, no one is driven more nuts by the errors than I am. Especially since I gave notes about them MONTHS before publishing. In fact, that was the problem. The notes came SO far in advance, that by the time SLG was ready to publish the volume, the notes had been forgotten. <grrrrrrrrrr>)