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Jurgan writes...

Been working non-stop lately, but I did get a chance to read issue 6, and now that I've got a little time off, I'm going to try to drop a review.

Good news, first: when I went to my usual comics store, which has always stocked several of each issue, on the afternoon of release day, they were sold out. I know your question is always "will you order more?" so you'll be happy to know that I heard the employee say, "we need to up our orders for Gargoyles." At least, I'm pretty sure he said that, though I don't know if they ordered any more of issue 6 than the two copies I ordered (I keep one in plastic, mainly so that if I'm reading one on the bus or I loan it to a friend and lose it, I'll always have a complete set that never leaves my house). The upshot for me was that, by the time I got to reading it a week later, I already knew about the production errors and wasn't as confused by them. It did throw me a bit when I saw Coldstone and Goliath fighting and talking, but then I remembered talk about errors and figured it out. And I've seen similar errors before- my Death of Jean DeWolff paperback had two pages in reverse order, so it jumps from Daredevil fighting a mob, to Spider-man (with a hyphen!) and Daredevil talking on a roof, to Spider-man swinging into the mob to save Daredevil. Anyway, the point is that I thought the errors were a bit confusing, but nothing so bad that I couldn't figure them out. So, 'nuff said on that issue.

Reunion was a rather down issue in a number of ways. Since it was a flashback, we already knew how things would ultimately turn out, so it didn't advance the plot much (although there were some hints about future developments). It felt more like a highlights reel than an actual complete story- the travelers had barely arrived when they were on their way out again. Still, there were certainly some good things in it:

I was a bit confused right at the beginning why Angela said Goliath was "healing." Wouldn't stone sleep cure him instantly? Was Thailog's wound that bad that it took days to recover?

I'm very amused by Thailog's emperor get-up. He's barely touched the wine, though. But I also like how Shari is pretending to be subject to him. She seems to enjoy the game of being his servant, knowing that at any moment she can switch to her master role. Also, artwise (I rarely have much to say about art), I like the very dark eyeliner Shari wears. Some people thought that was another mistake, but I have no problem with her looking different from day to day. One of the advantages of comics over cartoons- methinks Elisa's buying a whole new wardrobe.

Shari starts telling the story, but opens with the line "who can say if it be true." This raises an interesting question- how reliable is Shari as a narrator? I enjoy the device of the unreliable narrator, but I can't tell if it's being employed here. So, can you tell us: is what we see in the flashback literally what happened to the travelers, or is it a distorted version of the story told by Shari?

The laundry room arrival was rather silly, but clever at the same time. I can't decide whether I like it or not.

I love Bronx's vest.

Master Dawa's kind of fun. Far too many sage characters only speak in vague, portentous platitudes. It's nice when they know how to crack a joke or two, as in "their bodies are such lousy shots."

The action sequence in the cave is excellent, with a great sense of motion. And I can hear Frank Welker's barks in my head. And then, jalapena. This word should stay around forever, and now you don't have to worry about the art crew's objections (I've never understood what it was about that word that was so objectionable, anyway).

Goliath and Angela may not look very Yetiish, but in his white fur get-up, Coldstone actually does. The next action scene is also pretty good, though not quite up to the first.

The conversation scenes are nice, and Goliath gets his first chance to tell someone about the eggs surviving. I love his little grin. I also like Bronx asleep by the fire.

Angela's talk about Gabriel being his "biological" son was a little odd to me. I thought that once Goliath acknowledged her as his daughter, her talk of biology had ended. I assumed Gabriel's heritage would be an issue obvious to us, the viewers, but never made explicit to the characters, just like Hudson/Broadway.

So, you managed to slip a quick recap of Coldstone's situation in. Probably for the best, as Coldstone's story was always one of the more confusing elements of the series for me. I didn't figure it out until my second run with the series in college, five years after it went off the air. I also like that Coldstone is learning monastic meditation techniques, or something, to control Iago. I'm not sure how that will matter in the long run.

And then there's another great fight. Tell Purcell that he does some of the best action sequences in the book so far. I know Hedgecock's working hard, but Purcell should be on your short list of fill-ins. So far, 5 and 6 definitely have the best artwork. Unlike some, I've enjoyed almost all of the art we've seen so far, even if there've been a few problems (I didn't care for some of the goofy extras in #4, and there were a few Hedgecock panels that were ridiculously out-of-proportion). However, Karine and Purcell are the ones whose art really looks like the Gargoyles we grew up with. Anyway.

Coldstone's "neck-snapping" comment was downright disturbing. There's something you never would have pulled off on television. The funny thing is, while it does seem a bit over-the-top, it works when we realize who's really in control. Othello's trying to impersonate his evil brother, but he's a hammy actor and plays it too broadly. Maybe I'm reading too much into his few lines as "Iago," but that's what it seems to me. If only I could hear Michael Dorn do this one.

Speaking of Othello, I was impressed by his character in this issue. I've never been too fond of the guy. He strikes me as a moral coward who's willing to compromise his integrity and take the easy way out until cajoled into doing the right thing, in both "High Noon" and "Posession," and perhaps other places as well (a big part of his relationship with Desdemona seems to be that she acts as his conscience). So it was nice to see him take action immediately to protect his family, even though he surely would have preferred to return with them. Of course, it's a very status quo choice- Coldstone had already left the clan, and nothing seems to have changed in this issue. Or has it? There are some hints.

I've never heard of Shambahla. I ran across suggestion that it's another name for Shangri-La- is that right? The travelers left with apparently nothing accomplished, but Avalon did not send them back. Having them leave unconscious was probably the only solution, since they would not have gone voluntarily without him (well, Elisa might have, but Goliath can be pretty stubborn).

"A story for another night." Sounds very similar to the Weird Sisters' pronouncement. In their case, though, they were talking about themselves. Shari's story is certainly one we'd like to hear sooner or later. The comment room denizens have a great theory about her which I wish I'd thought of myself (then again, I came up with the reigning theory on Number 1's identity, so I shouldn't be too jealous). A little bit I liked was Thailog referring to Iago as his "uncle." It shows how un-gargoyle he is mentally, since any gargoyle would refer to Othello as one of his rookery fathers. And then Shari suggests that Goliath may not have failed- and Thailog freaks out. We've seen Thailog angry before, but I don't think we've ever seen him completely lose his composure like this. He seems genuinely afraid at this point. Shari's an incredibly captivating character, and I can't wait to see more of her. Her talk about "fruit" suggests something big is brewing, and the possibility that there's more going on here than meets the eye saves this issue from the doldrums of mediocrity.

Scarab returns, and Xanatos meets with Coldsteel. Wonder what that's about...

All in all, this wasn't a bad issue, but it strikes me as a bit of a dud. It was nice to fill in some gaps, but there was nothing really surprising or significant about the Himalayas adventure. However, if this pays off in the next story arc, and the pay off is good enough, I may change my tune. I wonder how this would have worked as an episode of the TV show. It would have to be framed quite a bit differently. Here, we're willing to see a sort of mundane story because we sense that it's still significant. As part of the World Tour, though, it wouldn't be very satisfying to see an episode in which nothing significant appears to take place- the gang show up, get chased away, and leave. I assume the plot would have been expanded quite a bit- maybe adding in an external threat so that there could be a sense of closure to the episode.

This issue also brings to mind two of the bigger disappointments in Gargoyles. One was the other untold World Tour story, showing how Xanatos took advantage of Goliath's absence. The other is the end of Legion. While a decent episode on the whole, Legion always feels weak to me because of its ending. The Xanatos tag was that he stole a computer virus, but compared to the stunners immediately preceding in Leader of the Pack and Metamorphosis, it's not that impressive. Even worse, though, was that there was never any follow-up to this virus that Xanatos thought was so valuable- you'd think he would have found some use for it eventually. A rare moment of waste in the Gargoyles universe. So I'm making a formal request that we find out what Xanatos used that virus for. I can think of possible uses in the next story arc, but those are ideas, so I'll keep them to myself (of course, you've already written the next story arc, but something down the road might be similar to what I'm thinking, so...). If you've already got plans, I don't want to know specifics (not that you'd give them anyway). I'm happy hanging on for the ride. Just letting you know that that's something I've always been curious about.

All in all, a decent issue, but nothing too spectacular. The weakest issue of the book so far, due to the fact that it currently seems like mostly filler. 2.5/4 stars (note that this is by Gargoyles standards- compared to other comics, it'd probably get 3 or 3.5). If it's redeemed by future issues and takes on greater significance, as I suspect it will, my opinion may improve a good bit. Thanks for listening.

Greg responds...

The M in Spider-Man is capitalized after the hyphen.

Response recorded on November 12, 2007