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Here are my thoughts on the FIRST NEW STORY IN OVER A DECADE!
Mostly, it's a repost of my thoughts from the Comment Room, with some new thoughts and responses added in.
I picked up my copy at the Golden Apple comic book shop on Melrose and La Brea. Had a bit of difficulty finding it, though. When I picked up Issue #2, it was shelved in the "Alternative" section with the rest of Slave Labor's titles. This time, it was in the "Kid's" section. I was kind of miffed about that, but oh well.
One thing I can definitely say about "Gargoyles"--I don't mind when it proves me wrong. I am of course referring to the upcoming "Double Date" story that will probably be in the next issue. This issue laid the pipe for it.
As you may or may not know Greg, I was hesitant to commit to the idea that this was the Double Date. Everyone else seemed so certain, but I wasn't so sure. From the way you described it WAY back when ASK GREG opened, I thought that it would take place a little further down the line.
That said, you pulled it off well.
I had wondered how Elisa would go from the one "date" in THE JOURNEY to breaking up with the big G. To me, it seems that the two major catalysts for Elisa's decision to break-up with Goliath (though they've only REALLY officially been together for a few DAYS) are 1) Morgan (a normal guy) asking her out on a date (and calling it such), and 2) Jason's little statement, "You need to be with a man who can give you everything you've ever wanted!" And we know that isn't quite Goliath. So, you made that part work, Greg. I mean, Elisa was probably thinking about going out with Goliath that night until Morgan asked her out and prompted her to really think about things. Even that may not have been enough without Jason's little inspirational.
(One thing I just thought of on my second readthrough...does Jason know that Goliath is Elisa's "mysterious boyfriend?" He knows the gargoyles are her friends, but does he know THAT particular piece of information?)
I love the opening spiel (on the radio?) where the announcer jokes about how to tell "real" gargoyles from people in costumes. In a way, I found it a bit outrageous how easily people assume the "beasties" can't talk.
Still, I have to say, it makes perfect sense that a gargoyle would be the most popular costume at this time (and Alex's costume is cute).
The new "Gargoyle Task Force" where we've got two new faces. I just KNEW Phil Tavanti was Morgan's partner from several episodes of the show (voiced by Jeff Bennett as I recall). I'll also be very interested in the way Matt handles things--especially with Margot watching him.
(And if I'm not mistaken, it looked like Phil was giving Morgan a bemused look while the latter was asking Elisa out.)
Hacker and the Illuminati. Manipulators of even the master manipulator (Xanatos). Like Todd, I love the way he changes his story with each visit. It's interesting to compare and contrast his..."scene partner's" reactions to him--Matt is clearly unhappy (and slow to use the "address numbers"), Xanatos seems amused (even when he finds out he's off to the White House), and Castaway is just pleasant and quiet (after all, they are his benefactors).
Oh, and by the way, Greg (in response to your voiced worries about the last bit with Castaway)--yes, Hacker's last statement (about destroying the gargoyles) did kind of feel like that was supposed to be the "real" story, but I thought that was intentional (I thought it was a great touch, in fact). I mean, it's an EXCELLENT red herring! Sure, the "long time fans" know it doesn't jibe with the Illuminati's M.O., but to the (always important) new fans it would be an excellent piece of misdirection. At least, I think so.
Like others, I also wonder at the significance of the numbers, and the fact that Matt/Xanatos/Castaway greet with the higher number, while Hacker responds with the lower number. Frankly, I was surprised that Castaway responded with a number at all--I knew he was involved with the society, but I didn't know they made him a full member!
One last thing: I loved Hacker's hand tightening on Matt's shoulder when he repeated, "don't be coy."
I loved Goliath and Elisa's discussion, and got a good laugh from Goliath's reaction to Elisa's "I realize your options are limited." Yeah, they're limited all right--to one (unless you want to count the genocidal maniac on the next page).
In a way, it's rather cruel the way Elisa does this--he just woke up and all is...well, not right with the world, but he's got Elisa for tonight (Halloween) at least. Then...he doesn't.
It does feel a bit abrupt, but in a way that works for it. Elisa may be voicing doubts she's had for years in regards to any relationship with Goliath, but ultimately she JUST decided to break it off completely with him ("go cold turkey" in a way). So it's sort of abrupt on both ends.
Great walk-on (or "glide-on") for Demona.
I thought the reintroduction for the Labyrinth and the Mutates and Clones was very well done. I recognized Al immediately. The "new kid" looks fascinating. I wonder what her story is (probably a runaway or something). For that matter, I can't help wondering who her VOICE would have been (or what her name is, since you cut Al off before he could introduce her!).
Knowing you, Greg, I really should have seen the "SEND IN THE CLONES" bit coming. Even then, the panel itself is a bit surprising (the clones actually look like they're about to attack). It's also fascinating, in the next panel to compare and contrast Brooklyn and Malibu (maybe it's an art thing, but Malibu has a bigger snout).
One thing I noticed this second readthrough: in the first panel with all the clones, Delilah's eyes are glowing. But instead of the normal, feminine red color, they're white. Was this a glitch or intentional? (Personally, I think it adds to Delilah's "otherness" as a hybrid).
I actually like Al's backstory-telling. It's well done, we get some nice panels (I particularly liked the one with Sevarius where half of his face is seen through a glass container of liquid and thus looks distorted and practically demonic--almost like a vampire, actually). I also noticed Al stopped short of mentioning Fang. He also never mentioned Xanatos by name--just called him "rich dude."
Let me just echo, along with several other people, poor Brooklyn. He was actually going to ask Delilah out and Goliath (unknowingly) shuts him down! Actually, this is another thing I kind of expected--Brooklyn attempting to hook up with Delilah, I mean (not Goliath doing it at the same time, though).
I like the look on Brooklyn's face afterwards, too. It's like he's disappointed, but not all that surprised at the same time (he's jinxed when it comes to the ladies, and he knows it).
I haven't seen the two TGC episodes featuring "the other" Castaway for several years now, but this version does seem to have some sense. He probably would love to give the go ahead to use hammers (and damn the humans stupid enough to dare dress as those evil monsters), but he knows it would be better in the long term to avoid that. In a way, this makes him more dangerous.
And count me as another who realized the "Chaz" mentioned is Fang's former crony from KINGDOM. Heck, I figured the guy Castaway was talking to on the phone was probably the other crony from the same episode (with the moustache, cap and shades--Lou, right?).
And I KNEW Thailog would show up at the end and have the last line (and a pretty good one, too). Great reveal (and a chilling final close-up). Did anyone else notice that he isn't actually firing those two big guns he has? The lasers are actually aiming lasers.
One thing that struck me about this episode--er, issue--Greg, is the way you fill the audience in on all the necessary backstory, but don't try to explain everything. Demona appears, but her name still hasn't been mentioned in the comic thus far, and prior to this we've only seen her in a brief "flashback" panel. And only those of us "in the know" realize the significance of the crystal. Nor is Castaway's being Jon Canmore revealed, or his relation to Jason. In fact, there's no indication Jason even has siblings, and no hint to his exact crimes (or the legacy of the Hunter, for that matter) is brought up. WE know the answers, sure, a good many of us were there from Day One of the series. But thinking of how a "new reader" might look at this, I find your handling of this to be very well done.
If I have any big complaint in regards to this issue, it's only that I have to wait at least two months for the next one.
(Frankly, I was also a bit worried about how this much awaited new story would measure up to expectations...I'm pleased to say, I like the way things are going.)
And that's my ramble on the first new story (I'm goint to wait until after your last few episode rambles, Greg, to put up my thoughts on the first two issues--I want to ramble on them alongside the TV version).
Can't wait for the next one.
I picked up my copy at Golden Apple the same day. We should coordinate next time!
Delilah's eyes do glow white when they glow.