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Clan-Building #7: The Rock

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Ed Reynolds writes...

GARGOYLES #7

Amazing issue.

I love how jam-packed each of these comics are. Some comics you've got all there is to get first read-through; this gets better and better with each successive reading. The non-linear structure flummoxed me first off, but now I'm completely in love. It's got a rhythm completely of its own. (Piecing together the Ask Greg clues to work out where the missing parts of the story are made it doubly fun so thanks for that 'Easter Egg'!). I'm really curious about the inspiration for this. Obviously in literature there are plenty of books which disassemble time but usually to mirror consciousness. 'Memento' is the only film I can recall which is this fragmented, but again there's a strict order. (Sometime, not while the story's still running necessarily, but eventually, I'd be interested to read about the thought processes behind this structure.)

Here, we're really dotting around but it gives the impression of a patchwork of themes: sibling rivalries (Jacob/Esau, Brooklyn/Broadway, Othello/Iago) particularly stand out. Perhaps also lineage -- never has the interconnectedness of man been so apparent than seeing the links from Egypt to Portugal to Ireland; and in modern times, we have the Maza family expanding into new boundaries, with Elisa & Goliath and Talon & Maggie's child. And of course, we have all these dark mirrors to our leads: Xanatos and Coyote, the ColdTrio and the Angela triangle, Lex/Brentwood, and as has been mentioned, Thailog/Shari who look very Goliath/Elisa in some panels.

I love the scene of Thailog & Shari playing chess though -- more Fox & David. I wonder if the bathtub scene is meant to suggest how Sevarius would like to spend his nights. Shari is by far my favourite new character so far. She's utterly fascinating. And while we have no evidence there's anything between them, they certainly seem pretty intimate. And whatever their relationship is, it fits that while Goliath & Elisa's life is based on protecting and serving, Thailog & Shari's seems to be about knowledge and power.

Although this is another story on a huge scale, I'm really glad the clan is proactive at the centre this time. I love, adore, the big, eclectic 'Gargoyles' cast, but more than that, I love our core guys. And Macbeth. Broadway and Angela seemed kind of mean to Brooklyn -- I hope this is in aid of them intervening to resolve their issues. Lex and Hudson taking centre stage fills me with joy.

(Oddly, I was in central London in November 1996. My brother was in Great Ormond Street getting his cochlear implant and it was around this time that we'd recently discovered 'Gargoyles'. I know he watched 'A Lighthouse in the Sea of Time' on television with his ward; and also I remember looking for 'Gargoyles' figurines in a London toy shop and coming out with a Lexington one for his Christmas. It's one of my most vivid memories, but it gives me a real kick to think that the 'real' Macbeth and Lexington would have been running around about the same time only a few miles away.)

The cover -- bit of a quiet one. I don't mind covers that don't reflect the inside too well (#1 and #3 are probably my favourites to date and have no real relevance to the interior), but this one attempts to find a hook from inside and comes up with something pretty mild. I still love Greg Guler's covers though. Will be very interested to see David Hedgecock on #8 but I hope Greg sticks around.

The art -- Really gorgeous. David Hedgecock has received some flak for his model work, but I have to say... I grew up on lisenced books. Spidey and X-Men were all too convoluted to get into, but Turtles, Sonic, Bucky O'Hare -- this stuff I knew where I was. And I know being 'off-model' is considered a pretty heinous crime by people who read these kinds of books. But my favourite artists, and often the most popular artists, were never the most on-model. Often the artists who tacked closest to the models produced characters who looked just a little plastic, a little too perfect, a little dead behind the eyes. David's model work is decent given the scores of characters he has to master each issue, but more than that, we really get a sense of the characters' intelligence and purpose, of momentum and fluidity. It's good, compelling art and I'm so glad he's having a good run at it. (My only hope is that if it is necessary to switch artists for a future issue that we can have the same person working on a sequence of stories -- this was what felt a little jarring about #3-5, though it was for entirely understandable reasons).

The colours -- Rich, atmospheric, true to the original, but really dramatic and bold as well. I particularly appreciate London on the last page looking like the late 20th century and not the late 19th -- alive with light. Often I'll see American presentations of London -- including in 'M.I.A.' where admittedly there was probably pressure to reuse the same backdrops for the 1940s and 1990s sections -- where it feels somehow dated. And of course, parts of it are historic. But growing up in London, all this seemed normal to me and so presentations which really honed in on the ancient aspects always startled me a bit. The Shari/Thailog colours are especially splendid. (Although -- being ultra-pernickety -- stars can't turn up in front of the shadowy portion on a crescent moon!).

I'm thrilled King Arthur is turning up, the London clan look amazing, and the details about the history of the stone and the naming of Portugal really stand out for me. I'm completely psyched to see where this goes next.

Big thanks to Greg, David, Robby, Greg G and the guys at SLG!

Greg responds...

Scripting issues #7-9, my guiding principle was to reveal info not in the order it happens but rather on a "need-to-know" basis for the reader, indeed emphasizing the connectivity of all that was taking place.

Response recorded on January 17, 2008

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Rebel writes...

This isn't really a question as it is a review/comment/whatever. Anyway, I just wanted to say THANK YOU for deciding to have the London Gargoyles resemble more animals than just lions, unicorns, and griffins. For the last ten years or so, I had always assumed that the London clan gargoyles would resemble other animals of heraldry as well, such as bears, boars, wolves, foxes, stags, rams, bats, etc., and when I read in the wiki a few months ago that they would all look like unicorns, griffins, and lions, I was SO disappointed. I am so glad that this is not the case. The two new gargoyles are beautiful and I am looking forward to learning more about them in the next two issues, and possibly seeing some other London Clan members as well. Once again THANKS!

Also, I just wanted to mention that Hedgecock's art is greatly improving and is really, really good in this issue. There are still a few things that seem a little off, like for instance he often seems to make the characters' heads a little too big which makes them seem cartoony, and they sometimes look really angular instead of organic. But overall he's doing a great job. He's really good with facial expressions. I LOVE the look on Lex's face when they first wake up with jetlag! Also the pages where Shari is telling Thailog those stories are all really great. Of course the final page is beautiful as well. And he does a really awesome job with mechanical characters; the page with Coldsteel and Coyote is awesome! Anyway kudos to Hedgecock!

Overall #7 was a great issue. The non-linear format was great (incidentally, although I miss the cartoon it's worth noting that this non-linear format likely would not have worked as well on the TV show). Thanks for all you do.

Greg responds...

The non-linear thing -- especially to the extent I did it in issues #7-9 -- would not have worked AT ALL on television. Snippets so brief, they would barely register. Not enough time for visual cues, and without the captions to indicate date and time, impossible. But if you left an image on screen long enough for a chyron to register, you'd blow the rhythm of the whole thing. I definitely WOULD have told this story, but it would not have been in this format at all.

Thanks for the kind words, and I've passed on to Dave that he seems to be winning some people over with his latest stuff.

Response recorded on January 16, 2008

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Ntripy writes...

Are the scrolls depicted in #7 just a creative way to present the story in the comic, or do they actually exist in the Gargoyles Universe?

Greg responds...

They're an artistic conceit.

Response recorded on January 16, 2008

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Purplegoldfish writes...

My review for #7, "The Rock"

I really like the non-linear format. I think it's really creative. It's like a puzzle with missing pieces that makes me ache for more. The first time I read it, it appeared to be totally random-but the more I read it, the more I realized that it's not random at all-the panels all seem to be very deliberately placed the way they are for a reason. This leads me to think that those three enigmatic panels on page two,(Bomb unit, "Amp", and Fox's shoes), are tied together somehow.

I like the little snippets of Shari's stories to Thailog, and the muted sepia tones used to convey the stories. It took my third reading to realize that the story pages are shaped like scrolls, nice little touch. I just love those little glimpses we get of Shari and Thailog (and sometimes Brentwood). For some reason I find it humorous to see Thailog performing mundane tasks like bathing, being on the computer, and playing chess while Shari drones on to him. I wonder what their relationship is exactly-probably more of a power struggle than anything, but in a bizarre way, they are kind of a match for each other.

It's nice to see Macbeth working with the gargoyles and becoming the clan's ally. I trust him, but I'm mildly surprised that Goilath is so quick to send his clanmates out to help him-seeing as he wasn't always their friend. I guess all one needs to do to convince Goliath is to pull the "Xanatos card." And it turns out they're right-Xanatos is working behind their backs.

Goliath's line is interesting-"healed but not whole." I was under the impression that gargoyles fully heal at sunrise. So I take it to mean that he's emotionally drained.

Personally, I don't feel sorry for Brooklyn. He had the chance to go to London and potentially meet unattached female gargoyles...but he passed on it. Angela didn't choose him, he needs to get over it. Though I am very curious as to Angela's and Broadway's intent-they were so happy at the prospect of going to Scotland-but then easily changed their minds. Angela's got some sort of plan brewing-to try to cheer Brooklyn up maybe? She's got to realize that brooklyn is pining for her-she's always been able to catch on to things pretty quiclkly in the show.

The clans seem to have found another ally in Dr. Sato-that's very good-especially since he can be a very helpful ally in troubling times.

Hehe, I loved the panels of Macbeth waiting for Lex and Hudson to wake up-nice subtle humour there. And gargoyle jetlag, lol. I once lost a whole day thanks to jetlag. I'm kind of curious as to what Lex and Hudson did in that ten day interim.

I found that panel that shows Macbeth trying to take back the stone in 1950 hilarious. "Scotland Forever!" LOL. "You'de be surprised" indeed.

Telling panel placement here-the scheming Xanatos scene taking place directly after the panel in which Hudson asks "Who exactly are we expecting?"
The Coyote Diamond...Nothing ever wasted in Gargoyles. Xanatos, Cyote, and Coldsteel...not a good combination. Part of the Illuminati's plan? Or something else?

I love the Othello/Desdemona/Iago story page. The way they're subtley turning to stone, and the iconic Hakon mace image. That must've been their last sunrise as flesh beings. And I love how the "Timeless love story" caption integrates into the Goliath and Elisa scene.

Speaking of the G/E scene, love it. The way it parallels the breakup scene in issue #3. Goliath and Elisa are careful not to mention the children issue, a discussion for another night. But the not-so-subtle placement of the panel where Maggie is revealed to be pregnant is brilliant. It's nice to see Goliath so happy-he's been having a tough week. And I love how passionate that kiss looked. Did Goliath initiate it?

I wasn't all that surprised at Maggie's pregnancy for some reason. Though if I were her, I would be terrified. What is their kid going to be? Mutate? Human? A mixture of both? I have kind of a bad feeling that things are going to be rough for them.

And the exciting cliffhanger-King Arthur and the London Gargoyles are up to something as well. Are they on the same side? Nice designs for the new London gargs, and as others have mentioned, it's nice to see a full figured female gargoyle.

The art: There's a few minor problems-like that closeup of Elisa's face-kind of reminds me of Ariel from the Little Mermaid-but Hedgecock's art has vastly improved, I think. Characters are much more on-model. I'm impressed. And kudos to Robby Bevard and his terrific coloring. The best coloring work on the book, in my opinion. He really payed attention to giving the correct lighting to the diffrent settings, and like I mentioned earlier, I love the effect of the scroll scenes.

Terrific start to an intrigueing new story arc, and I can't wait to see what happens next.

Greg responds...

I'm not sure Shari would appreciate you saying she's "droning". And I'm not sure Thailog would stand for droning. (Now you're on the Illuminati's list!)

Healing -- depending on the wound -- is exhausting. Remember Angela after she nearly died at the hands of the Hunters. One day as stone heals, but it exhausts the body. Goliath is in fact physically not at 100% in #7.

I think Goliath did initiate the kiss... AFTER Elisa stroked his hair. Think of it as the best kind of cultural exchange.

Response recorded on January 14, 2008

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KingCobra_582 writes...

Picked up my copy of Gargoyles #7 today. After all these weeks, it's finally here.

And, after the very mild disappointment I had with issue 6, it was worth the wait too.

**SPOILERS**

PROS:

More great story twists.

-I didn't see Maggie's pregnancy coming, oddly. Those were some great moments, with Talon and Maggie looking at each other like that.
-It was cool seeing Claw again, even if it was only for one panel, and he didn't do anything.
-The cover threw me off somewhat, which is a good thing.
-More Elisa and Goliath stuff. At least it's not too angsty this time.
-Does Goliath know that Brooklyn is bothered by B & A's relationship? I had the impression at first, when he looks over Brooklyn's shoulder at them, that he had a good idea. But then it occurred to me that Goliath may have been silently asking them to stay with his second. So which is it?
-Nice little Lex moments. I liked the expression on his face when he complains about 'I don't feel so hot.'
-On a semi-related note, who's this 'Amp'? Is Lex naming someone or simply giving them a nickname?
-I loved that MacBeth/King Arthur moment. Though I admit that, since I thought they left on good terms in 'Pendragon', I am a little confused. What's Arthur hiding/protecting? Also, since Arthur's here, kudos on introducing the new gargoyles at the end. And is that Griff behind Lex and Hudson?
-Nice throwback to the Cold Trio. And I'm eager to know what Xanatos, Coyote, and Coldsteel are up to. Whatever it is, it can't be good. Is this part of Xanatos' Illuminati assignment?
-The bits about Gathelus interested me greatly. Thanks, Greg. You made me want to do research on this guy.

As usual, Greg, you have left me with so many questions, and very few answers. Thank you.

The art was decent. Hedgecock has definitely come a long way since #1.

CONS:

These are very minor things that I was able to let go of. They didn't really ruin my enjoyment too much.
-The biblical reference. Mainly because (and this is a self-personal quip. I'm not trying to offend anyone or push my beliefs.) I'm not really into religion. No offense.
-The constant time changes were a little confusing.

End the rant.

A near-perfect issue that I really enjoyed. Great writing, great story, and I loved the artwork. Plot threads left dangling, but then, I love being in suspense, so that was a big plus too. There were a couple of flaws, but I was able to ignore them.

What a hell of an great issue. I can't wait for #8. :)

Merry Christmas.

Greg responds...

Goliath now knows about Brooklyn's angst.

You don't have to be religious to appreciate the bible. I personally don't regard it as a religious text (for myself) -- but it's without a doubt a great repository for stories. It's definitely worth a read.

Response recorded on January 14, 2008

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Harvester of Eyes writes...

ISSUE #7 REVIEW.

Sorry, I've been lax for the last few comics, but I intend to start these up again with a vengeance (if you'll pardon the expression).

First off, right from the get-go, the story reaches out and grabs you. It's barely been forty-eight hours since Thailog crashed the party, and some of the clan are leaving the castle to accompany Macbeth to Europe. It was great how Macbeth appealed to Goliath, too. He pretty much summed it up: Xanatos is their landlord. Nothing more. So needless to say, it was also great to see Xanatos working behind Goliath's back in this one.

As we see in this issue, he hadn't changed that much even as far back as "Possession". Coldfire and Coldsteel were still his creations, so it would stand to reason that he'd add something to their construction which would allow him to "call" one of them. Can't wait to see what his plan is, as well as the Society's interest in the Stone.

The cutscenes to Thailog and his crew were also interesting. I'm wondering if that will tie in somehow. Shari is a nine, so she probably has some knowledge of Xanatos's assignment. And Thailog and Brentwood were obviously digging for something.

It was also interesting to see a gargoyle's reaction to jet lag, especially since I think that's been a topic of discussion in the Station 8 comment room before. So I have to wonder if they got to see the sun before they adjusted. Especially since Hudson made a remark in "The Mirror" stating that he'd like to see it, just once.

And the gargoyles at the end were a very nice shocker. Though I think it's great, after seeing Demona, Angela, Ophelia, and Desdemona, to see a more full-figured female among the gargoyle race. I can't wait to see which one Lexington might have been referring to on the second page of the issue (if indeed it was one of them).

As far as the art is concerned, I think Hedgecock is getting better, though I think he's still grappling with conveying emotion on close-ups of the faces. But the coloring in this one more than made up for that.

Overall, this issue was a hell of a fun ride loaded with a lot of neat little twists. Can't wait to read more.

Greg responds...

Good, cuz, you know, we're making more.

Response recorded on January 11, 2008

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Antiyonder writes...

- Have to say, this story arc is one I'm was looking forward to. Didn't think we'd get to that team up between Coyote 5.0. and Coldsteel for awhile. While I knew Xanatos would still be in conflict with the Gargoyles at times, I wasn't sure if he would still use the Coyote Robots or not.

- Getting to see Macbeth Post-Journey was a plus. I wonder if he knows about his minions current employer. I could help but chuckle when he was having his drink while waiting for Lexington and Hudson to awaken.

- Don't know why, but this cliffhanger's got me the most excited for the next issue. Not saying the others weren't of course.

- Nice to see David's penciling on the comic again. I'm probably in the minority, but I found his artwork in #3 to be the start of his improvement in the series.

Looking forward to the next issue, as well as Bad Guys #2.

Greg responds...

Me too!

Response recorded on January 10, 2008

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dph writes...

My review of issue #7

Let me start by saying that I found this issue very intriguing, more so than normal. I wish I had the next two issues with me so that I could put together the whole story all at once. Where do I start? With something I've almost completely ignored in my thoughts up to now. Xanatos let Macbeth visit the gargoyles on the top of the castle. The last time (and first time) that Macbeth visited the gargoyles on top of the castle, he offered them a favor: a new home. In this story, we get the reverse: Macbeth asking the gargoyles for a favor. Things have changed a lot since then. Anyways, Macbeth wants to personally insure that the Stone of Destiny makes its way back to Scotland.

Since I'm guessing that you'll stick with real world history, the Stone of Destiny (or a likeness of it) will be returned, but that isn't important as the journey that the Stone takes to get to its destination.

It's nice to see Macbeth using 'conventional* transportation - an aircraft not an airship - to travel. Xanatos allowing Macbeth to visit the gargoyles makes sense in that he can monitor their communication. Had Xanatos denied Macbeth the visit to the gargoyles on top of the castle, Macbeth and the gargoyles would have met anyways with Xanatos being in the dark about what happened in that meeting. Xanatos's comment about planning for this contigency makes me wonder if Xanatos's original plan called for interference from Macbeth, gargoyles, or both?

Dr Sato meeting the mutates was interesting. When I first read "treating someone in Maggie's 'condition'", my immediate thoughts were her being a mutate, not anything else.

Was Macbeth that bored or that sleepy? Either way, it makes sense for him to do something to pass the time. Macbeth explaining to the gargoyles that they experienced jet lag helps explain the situation. Hopefully (and humorously), Angela's whisper to Broadway isn't going to turn into a giant speculation as big as something else. I hope we get to see more of the flashback of Macbeth trying to recover the Stone of Destiny in 1950. When you wrote "Gathelus and his family would wander the globe for Two Years", did you literally mean the entire globe or just Europe?

Anyways, Xanatos's line of "The stone's flawless surfaces and clarity increase the speed of " and the picture showing location have me fairly convinced that the diamond is an essential part of Coyote 5.0's "computer core". I wouldn't have caught the reference except for an episode of Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego where Carmen took some coal and turned into a diamond and the detectives installed it into their computer system and somehow speeded things up. On the other hand, I could be way completely off-base in the assumption that the crystal is part of the computer core.

When Dr Sato mentions that Maggie needs an o.b., I had no idea what that meant, but then others in the s8 cr pointed out that was a way of saying that Maggie was pregnant.

King Arthur pulling a sword onto Macbeth really is an indicator of King Arthur's skill, but still one wonders why use the sword instead of an arm. It's nice to see the London clan, again.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story and am looking forward to seeing the next two parts. The intrigue keeps growing as I'm not sure what the true motivation of each player really is.

I have some theories about the use of the Coyote diamond inside of Coyote, but I'm more thrilled that you don't let things go to waste from season 1. Indeed, you are building a great tapestry.

Greg responds...

Thanks. I do try.

Response recorded on January 10, 2008

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Ricky writes...

Hey Greg,

I just managed to get a hold of issue #7, and I have to say it is my absolute favorite so far! The story was great, and I can't wait to find out what happens next, but what I really wanted to comment on was the artwork. I've loved David Hedgecock's unique style and his take on the different looks of the characters since the beginning, but I know that there have been fans who have gone as far as to say they hated it. I noticed that in this issue the characters drawings looked a bit different, maybe as if David had heard the fans' comments and paid attention to their criticism while drawing this issue. So, finally my questions:

1. I'm sure you've heard the fans' criticism and I was wondering did you had talk to David about the fans' concerns? If so, what did you say?

and, if not:

2. Do you know whether David heard the criticism, and if so, is that the reason for the slight difference in the artwork?

Thanks a lot for your time, Greg! Keep up the great work!

Greg responds...

I did talk to David about the fan criticism. The talk went something like this...

Dave: "Man, the fans really seem to hate me."

Greg: "Ignore 'em."

[As I said before, every fan is entitled to his or her opinion, but I thought some of the statements made about the art went beyond what was on the page and ventured into the personal, making all sorts of truly outrageous and/or presumptuous assumptions. I have little tolerance for that.]

Dave's work is improving, mostly because he's getting more and more familiar with the characters, because he's showing what he can do when designing new characters and because, well, practice makes perfect. There was no course correction here. I, for one, have been confident we've been on the right course from day one. But it is a course, not an end point.

I also think that Robby is a great addition to the team.

Response recorded on January 09, 2008

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Matt writes...

Can you give us some clarification on what is going on with Macbeth's coronation in "The Rock" versus "City of Stone". Is this a retcon or did both scenes happen?

Greg responds...

I'm going to say BOTH happened. Yeah...

Response recorded on January 09, 2008


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