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UNQUESTIONS 2016-01 (Jan)

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Kalev tait writes...

In creating a fully realised world, you seem to create fully believable characters for all of your reoccurring roles. While I assume you don't do the same for mooks, I'm wondering about minor characters who only appear once or twice and only have one or two lines? Do you always try to make everyone be able to justify their existence beyond the protagonists, or is it just for major characters?

Greg responds...

I try to do it for everyone, at least retroactively. If we use a thug, I try to make him marginally interesting enough that we can bring him back. Then over time, a guy like Pal Joey in Gargoyles becomes an actual character, even if in his first appearance, he's basically a one line henchman.

Response recorded on January 19, 2016

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Spectacular Spider-Fan writes...

1. Do any villains realize that Spider-Man is a teenager?
2. How, if at all, will the Spider-Verse event impact the Spectacular Spider-Man universe?
3. In the Master Planner episode, we see that there are cameras planted all over the city that Doc Ock is watching. We're also led to believe that he's tracking Peter's phone, bu pt later find out he's tracking Gwen. Could Master Planner have seen Peter transform into Spider-Manthrough the cameras like the one near the demolished building, or track his phone?
4. In the episode where wer're introduced properly to Tombstone for the first time, he presses a button to call in Stan and Jean, who immediately burst into the room? How did they get there so fast?
5. In the same episode, Norman is waiting outside the elevator for Harry and tells him to man up. Then he goes back to talk with Hammerhead and apologizes for some reason and acts like he was interrupted. Why was he waiting if he was busy talking with Hammerhead?

Greg responds...

1. No.

2. No Spoilers one way or another.

3. Keep in mind that Doc was being opportunistic. These were existing cameras he was tapping into, not cameras he placed. So Pete's generally pretty careful. He also has the advantage that nobody was literally going through ALL the existing footage live.

4. They were right outside the door.

5. I'd have to see the episode again.

Response recorded on January 19, 2016

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Anonymous writes...

Will you ever post the Spectacular Spider-Man series bible?

Greg responds...

I might. But I don't have it here at my Nickelodeon office.

Response recorded on January 15, 2016

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Anonymous writes...

Was the Michael kid from Gangland Michael Morbius?

Greg responds...

No. He was a contest winner. A real person.

Response recorded on January 15, 2016

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Phil(Enlightenment) writes...

Greg, The last time I saw you, which was at the last gargoyles convention, you expressed a desire for me to be on this forum due to my solution based way of thinking. I know now why I gravitated toward you so fiercely as I am awake now. My question: Do you know what star system you channeled gargoyles from?

Greg responds...

I do not.

Or rather, it's from the star system Sol, but from a parallel universe. (Or so I must assume.)

Response recorded on January 15, 2016

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Anonymous writes...

Today you answered this question:

"2. Why is the plate still there when she becomes Molly if all of her magic is lost in that form anyway?"

With this:

"2. Huh? When does that happen?"

I guess it never did on screen, but the reason I ask is because a while ago a poster named Matt asked:

"5. While the Banshee has Oberon's metal plate over her mouth, can she still transform into  Molly  or Cromm-Cruach? If so, does the plate remain in place or is that strictly a feature of her Banshee form?"

And you responded with this:

"5. The plate adapts to her form. Oberon knows she can change shape, so I can't imagine he wouldn't have taken something that fundamental for granted. Of course, instead of transforming into Molly , she could glamour into Molly and make the gag invisible. But she still wouldn't be able to talk."

Have you changed your mind since then, & now the plate does not remain when Banshee transforms into Molly? If so, does that mean she can speak while in the form of Molly now too?

Greg responds...

Not unless Oberon wills it so.

Response recorded on January 15, 2016

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Kalev Tait writes...

What ha fatherhood taught you about writing?

Greg responds...

Probably a lot.

Nothing immediately springs to mind.

I've learned to prioritize dad time over time in front of the computer.

Response recorded on January 15, 2016

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ND writes...


What does Farano Enterprises specialize in, please?

I apologize for my bad English.

Have a nice day!

Greg responds...

I can't remember ever hearing of Farano Enterprises. I'm not even sure what series you're referring to. Did you mean Xanatos Enterprises?

Response recorded on January 15, 2016

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Masterdramon writes...



"Rain walked along Windward Bar as the coast curved around into Windward Strand. A dense fog drifted in from the water, but Rain could see Mrs. Kim cut off from the sand by a strange line of dancing crabs and gulls. Suddenly, Rain felt a sense of urgency. She ran into the fog and immediately lost her bearings. She heard music - no, not music: singing. And the song was beautiful. The song was entrancing. She slowed down to listen, to attempt to make out the words…

But the words hardly seemed to matter. She wandered through the fog, searching for the source of the beautiful song…"


In my review of the first book in this series, RAIN OF THE GHOSTS, I stated that if I had to put my impressions of it into one word, it would be "intriguing." It was a novel with a ton of promise, yet at times it still felt like the television pilot that it used to be; tons of great setup and foreshadowing, but not a whole lot of payoff.

Thankfully, SPIRITS more than makes up for it in this regard, improving on its predecessor in every conceivable fashion.

A central theme of Greg Weisman's works has always been repercussions, and SPIRITS is no exception. Picking up one day after the conclusion of the last book, it becomes immediately clear that Rain's inaugural adventure has changed her deeply, and much of the early parts of the novel are spent exploring the consequences of the quest she has now undertaken.

Rain herself is the biggest point of change, and it's a welcome one. While in the previous book she certainly had a unique and entertaining "voice," she was also impulsive and immature enough to erode reader sympathy at times. It's clear that she still has a lot of growing up to do, but a sense of purpose and real responsibilities have done much to temper her more negative qualities.

I can certainly say I was "rooting" for her a lot more strongly in this story, both in her personal life and in her greater quest, than I was in the last. Especially in light of a particular conversation she has with her father toward the end of the novel, which demonstrates some rather keen character growth.

Charlie, too, really comes into his own in this book. My one complaint of any substance regarding RAIN was that I thought that Charlie came off as a little bland and generic - but there was potential there, and I hoped that later novels might coax it out. SPIRITS certainly delivers on that score.

No longer defined solely by his relationship toward Rain (although one particularly amusing passage toward the beginning has him agonizing over whether he fits the term "sidekick"), Charlie gets to shine through as a calm and cool-headed planner, with the patience of a saint and a sardonic wit that enables him to take the supernatural world he's just been introduced to in stride.

Oh, and he gets nearly all the best lines, too.

'Bastian was my favorite main character in RAIN, and he remains one of this series' true gems; it's not like "dead grandfather of the protagonist who looks like he's in his 20s" is a very common character type in young adult fiction, after all.

Since he still doesn't know exactly why he came back as a ghost, or how long he'll be sticking around - although all three certainly spend some time speculating - his attempts to take things as they come rings true, and leads to some of the novel's standout scenes. A few of them were genuine tearjerkers.

The shared theme, for both of our male leads' initial character arcs, appears to be impotence. Charlie's lack of connection to the supernatural leads him to feel increasingly left out of Rain's quest, despite his obvious willingness to help her out, while 'Bastian literally can't interact with most anything in the world save for Rain herself.

It's a theme that's explored in a number of diverse and creative ways, and it's a bold one; in the current culture of violence as the primary method of conflict resolution, feelings of helplessness aren't often depicted so frankly as they are SPIRITS…particularly in its climax.

Greg really does a great job of conveying the feeling of being unable to act, and it makes for an extremely emotionally resonant work. One scene involving 'Bastian and his daughter (Rain's mother) is absolutely heartbreaking in this regard.

The big surprise out of this book's cast, however, is Miranda Guerrero. A minor character in the first book, she rises here to become the fourth lead, and easily my favorite. The isolated but kindhearted daughter of the Ghosts' largest private employer, Miranda proves especially effective as a foil for Rain: studious and responsible where Rain most decidedly isn't, and intensely insecure in contrast to Rain's boundless (over-) confidence.

SPIRITS succeeds magnificently at properly introducing her to this world, and in the space of the novel fleshing out her first big character arc. By the end she feels every bit a part of the main group as Rain, Charlie, and 'Bastian do, and I very much look forward to seeing how they interact on future adventures.

The supporting characters also feel a lot more "real" in this installment; with the brunt of the work done establishing the setting and the basic relationships in the first book, Greg makes great effort to allow them all to breathe and shine on their own merits here.

Iris and Alonso Cacique, seen predominately in the first book only through the VERY thirteen-year-old eyes of their daughter, get to show off a lot more of themselves as business associates, partners, and human beings, as opposed to just being "mom and dad."

Meanwhile, new details have begun to trickle out regarding Miranda's silent bodyguard Ariel, strangely alluring traveler Judith Vendaval, and especially our nigh-omniscient canine narrator Opie and his equally enigmatic companion Maq. Each one clearly has plenty of their own secrets left to tell, with just enough hints provided here to make some educated guesses.

Most notable among those joining this colorful cast for the first time is Renée Jackson, who spends so much time interacting with the main plot that she's arguably closer to a lead than a supporting character. One can't help but be impressed by the sheer depths to which she pursues the pettiest of revenges, approaching her role as "school bitch" with such dedicated professionalism that she ends up twisting said role in quite a few interesting directions.

And finally, we have our villains: the returning Australian mercenary Callahan and his faceless employer "Mr. Setebos," in addition to a handful of characters, old and new, who have a more…mystic bent to them.

That's another thing that's notably different about SPIRITS in comparison to RAIN - while the indigenous Taino culture was always an undercurrent of the story, it was distinctly at the background of the first book, focused as it was both on Rain's initial character arc and in putting away the ghosts (both literal and figurative) of World War II.

Not so with SPIRITS, which goes full-haul on the tragically underused history and mythology of the Caribbean in order to craft something that feels truly unique. There may be a million versions of Thor or Horus out there, but this is the first work to introduce me to figures like Aycayia.

Greg even goes so far as to craft his own fables as part of the narrative - each one directly inspired by various myths of the region, but blended together and twisted in unexpected directions in a style that fans of his animated series ("Gargoyles" in particular) will be eminently familiar with.

It's his unique mix of thorough research, respect for the original myths, and willingness to apply bountiful creativity to make them cohere into a single, brilliant tapestry that makes these sections a real highlight of the book. I must especially commend what he does with the concept of the "hupia," drawing from various sources in order to craft a monster both refreshingly original and utterly terrifying.

SPIRITS OF ASH AND FOAM is a book about a lot of things: Rain learning to accept her new destiny as the Searcher and the Healer, coming to grips with how that responsibility meshes with her more mundane life as a daughter and a student (fans of Greg's previous work on superhero series like "The Spectacular Spider-Man" and "Young Justice" may find a lot of resonance on this particular point), and setting to rest one more wound of the past, even as numerous others begin to appear on her horizon.

But ultimately, what it's really about is family - another perennial favorite theme, like repercussions, of a Greg Weisman story. Rain's grander destiny is a legacy of her birth family, and it becomes increasingly clear as the plot of SPIRITS unfolds that reconnecting with both them and with the new family she is gathering (Charlie, Miranda…maybe even Renée, with a little more growing up on both sides) is going to be key to unlocking the mystery of the Ghosts.

On the whole, there really is very little I can think to criticize about SPIRITS. Whereas I enjoyed but was never overwhelmingly excited about RAIN, its sequel was an engrossing page-turner from beginning to end; the only reason it took me so long to finish it was that I deliberately dragged out the experience to maximize my enjoyment.

The jokes all landed perfectly without ruining the overall mood, the action scenes - particularly the climactic one - played out with a palpable sense of tension, the dialogue felt crisp and dynamic, and the emotional beats had me genuinely empathizing with the cast.

In short, it really and truly did everything right.

Without question, SPIRITS succeeded in getting me fully invested in seeing Rain's journey play out over the planned nine-book series. And I hope that, if anyone reading this review was on the fence about trying these novels out, that I got you to feel the same way.

If you enjoyed Greg's previous work on any series from "Gargoyles" to "Young Justice" - or hell, if you're simply looking for a good story with strong characters and a solid grounding in an oft-overlooked mythology - then you owe it to yourself to try out RAIN and SPIRITS.

I guarantee that you will not be disappointed.

Greg responds...

Thanks for all the kind words. I'm so glad it's working for you!!

Response recorded on January 14, 2016

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GRacie writes...

Gargoyles is a great show. Now that my praise is out of the way, I'm moving onto the question.

I watched the version of City of Stone with your commentary (which was very amusing) but there was one part which stood out to me. In the beginning of Part 4, we see Demona of the eleventh century meet up with Macbeth. You (or one of the other commenters) acknowledged that Demona was, and I quote, "a bit in love with Macbeth". It makes sense why she would feel this way, seeing that Macbeth was a close ally of hers.

Was this really true, or were these possible feelings of hers frivolous?

Greg responds...

Um... all of the above?

Mostly, I prefer to leave that to every viewer's interpretation.

Response recorded on January 14, 2016

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