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The Phoenix Gate

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Blaise writes...



Yes! Finally! The "TIMEDANCER" story! A three-comic arc focusing on my favorite "GARGOYLES" character! I have been looking forward to this for (literally) YEARS. And it did not disappoint. Okay, maybe there are a few nitpicks here or there, but who cares? It still rocks! So let's start with the first part.


First of all, I must address the art. Greg Guler did a fantastic job here. I mean, good God, this is probably the best art I've seen throughout the entire "Clan-Building" comic run (Karine, I love you and your work on "Bash" but this...wow, just...wow). I mean, the issue even starts out with what could only be called a "hero shot" of Brooklyn, and it kicks ass! The only nit is that in the first panel it looks like Brooklyn has the "one-claw" style wings instead of his normal ones. Well, maybe the other two claws are hidden. Regardless, it's still great!

Anyway, Brooklyn seems to be enjoying a glide out by himself...and then Broadway and Angela show up. And they're holding hands (and just what had they been doing to make their eyes glow like that?). Brook is not happy (I love his expression here). Broadway remarks how dull it's been with Lex and Hudson off in London (really, Broadway? Is spending "quality alone time" with Angela THAT boring?). He wishes they'd come back, to which Brooklyn responds "Yeah, that's one of my wishes...". Wow, for being the two most intuitive members of the clan, Broadway and Angela are REALLY blind to Brooklyn here. I mean, it's like (to borrow from "The Princess Bride") they're giving him a nice paper-cut and pouring lemon juice on it--and they don't even realize they're doing it!
Actually, Brooklyn's kind of interesting here. He seems to bottle most of his feelings up around them. I mean, it's like he's trying not to make a big deal about his disappointment over not "getting the girl" and just trying to avoid being constantly reminded of it, but all the body language and subtle hints in the world aren't piercing through the little "love bubble." I can only wonder what this little powder keg might have become had he not gone on his little Dance. But I'll get to that in a minute.

A little art tangent here: Angela's collar. Now, we've seen Angela's new two-piece since the start of the comics, but one thing that's always been inconsistent about it is the presence or absence of a high collar. Well, there's also the number of threads covering the, um..."low cut" area on the chest. Whenever Greg Guler draws Angela, whether on the covers, or right here in his own issue, he draws her with the collar, and only two threads over the low cut area. The ONLY OTHER artist who did that is Gordon Purcell (in Issue #6 "Reunion" for the "present" scenes). Every other artist who drew her in her "normal" outfit draws her top without the collar and with a LOT more threads. This is something that's always bugged me. It's a new outfit for her, designed by Greg Guler (I believe), so why not follow his design all the way? Why do so many make her new two-piece look like her original one-piece with just a section missing. Maybe I wouldn't care so much except I LIKE that collar. I like the distinctive look it gives her. And yes, I admit, I would not say "no" to less threads obscuring the low-cut area. ;-)
Okay, there, I've said all I need to say about that. Sorry for the digression--on with the comic.

The Phoenix Gate arrives, bouncing off one of the letters in the sign before coming to rest on the rooftop. Angela is really concerned about this development, while Brooklyn seems rather calm (and even flippant). Maybe he's just glad for the distraction from the happy couple. I like the glow of the Gate reflecting off Brooklyn's eyes.

Brooklyn reaches for the Gate (not unreasonable, from his POV--you don't want to leave something like that lying around), and...it disintegrates. Ummm, okay, in the 12 years I'd known about "TIMEDANCER" I never thought that the Gate would do this. First disintegrate, and then spit out a huge flamin' Phoenix that would swallow Brooklyn whole and vanish! I especially like that first panel on page 6--with the Phoenix's eyes looming over the three gargoyles. Maybe it's because he's closest to center, but Brooklyn does seem to be the focus of that gaze (no surprise there).

And now we begin the real meat of this tale--Brooklyn's adventures in the past. I easily recognized Constantine and Gillcomgain. Gil's father I didn't recognize until Gil referred to him as such, and a few pages later we finally get a name for him, Brigti. Anyway, poor Brook lands right in front of this rather hostile audience. Gil immediately calls him "demon" and Constantine (for reasons soon to become apparent) gives the order to "kill it." Brigti's reaction is the odd one out, if only because it's so calm and matter of fact. I wonder if Brigti sees gargoyles as something a person doesn't need to kick up much of a fuss about, at least no more so than any wild animal. This makes his reaction an interesting contrast to Constantine and Gil's rather vehement ones.

Young Gil trying to take out a surprised Brooklyn with a knife=FAIL! Constantine trying to take out Brooklyn with his HORSE=a considerably more dignified FAIL. That guy in green casting a fire arrow spell with no magic book or other noticeable conduit and getting Brooklyn in the leg=OUCH! Actually, overall, I'm impressed by how Brooklyn handles himself throughout this whole thing. He doesn't panic, keeps his head (even manages to crack a few smart remarks), correctly figures the place and century he landed in, is able to get enough height to glide somehow (it looked like a hilly bit of land, I guess) and even manages to take a FIRE ARROW in the leg and keep going (much to Constantine's displeasure). Go Brooklyn!

Anyway, we learn more about what Constantine is doing out at this hour--posting "Wanted" posters for the Magus, Tom, Mary and Finella. It would also seem that he's also hunting down gargoyles because of past history (and for those of us who have read the "Three Brothers" story, this is an added bit of icing on the cake). Oh, and the wizard in the green cloak is called Brother Valmont...and maybe it's the bald head but he looks strangely similar to someone from the previous chapter....
And just what is this "Grim" that is amassing an army?

As soon as I saw that feminine, blue-sleeved hand rip off that poster, I knew Filella and Mary had arrived. Constantine, that jerk, has been doing a bit of spin-doctoring it would seem. Among other things, the poster accuses Finella of "turning to sin and Satan" (even with the violence and minor swears the comics have been able to get away with, that line surprised me) in grief over the loss of her son.
MARY: You had a son?
Okay, that line and the look on her face leave me to wonder if she was telling the truth there.

To get past the Porter, Mary introduces Finella as the Lady...Fiona (the name of *another* "GARGOYLES" character voiced by Sheena Easton). Meanwhile, Brooklyn lands nearby and pulls out the arrow. Wow, hardcore. The expression of pain on his face is great, as is the surprise and lighting when the two halves of the arrow dissolve into flames (he should be thankful they didn't do that while he was holding one in his mouth).
Well, gold is enough to get the past the Porter, but not the Guardsman, who pulls off the poster...what, wait a minute! Didn't Finella already tear it off? Yeah, there she is holding it, and now the Guardsman's holding one and...THERE'S ANOTHER ON THE DOOR?! Okay, Finella looks about as surprised as I feel. Does the poster have some sort of magic spell on it that creates an exact copy if it is torn off?
Things go south very fast for our heroines. The jerk Guardsman can apparently follow orders enough to want them alive, but no one else in the town seems to agree. Finella tries to bluff her way out with the Grimorum (LOVE that last panel on page 15), but the Guardsman is not as easily cowed as the townspeople. Until Brooklyn arrives, that is. Brook even pulls a Goliath and takes the sword in his had by the blade (leaving a fair amount of blood in the process). And then he pulls a Hudson by taking that sword and keeping it with him. I loved his lines here (especially, "You wait here for my clan to come eat your brains..." and "Now that I've set back human-gargoyle relations for the next millennium").
"RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY!" You've just been waiting to put that Monty Python bit in, haven't you, Greg?
One art nit: It would seem the top part of a word bubble is floating just above the bottom of panel 6 on page 16. Oh, well.
I love Finella's expressions first after Brook appears and then after he turns to stone. I'd guess this is the first time she's been this close to a gargoyle in her life. She seems concerned about the wound on his hand though (YIKES, yeah, you wouldn't have been able to show that much on the TV show). Mary seems to wear a concerned expression, too in the final frame of page 17.
Mary named the horse "Magus?" Heh. That's kind of cool.

And now we meet "The Grim"--jolly Kenneth (soon to be King Kenneth III), cousin of Maol Chalvim and Princess Katharine. We see Maol, too (as gregarious as ever), and surprisingly enough, a younger Findlaech. Oh, and Bodhe as a boy, ready to follow his father into battle (or so he says). I got the Shakespeare reference (either Kenneth or Shakespeare must have been psychic), and the irony about Ken being called "The Grim" instead of Maol. After some exposition on how the war against Constantine goes, Kenneth brings up gargoyles ("the solution of our fathers") and we cut to a group of gargoyles sleeping in a cave...right before they fall to the mace. Gillecomgain, not surprisingly, is in a frenzy, screaming at them to "DIE" as he smashes their unconscious forms to rubble. He is so into this, it impresses even Constantine (who had smashed the first one with a smile on his face). And unless I miss my guess, it unnerves Brigti somewhat.
Why would they put a poster there? Do they really expect people to stop by that cave? Or is it for any other gargoyles that might happen along?

Loved Brook's wake up (and the detail of stone flakes on Mary's hood a few frames later). Brook and Mary recognize each other from Wyvern and exchange names (and I wonder if Brook had already heard about Finella from Goliath or Angela retelling Tom's story). Brook's response to all this? "Oh, this is too cool!" Wow...that would not have been my response. I mean, seriously, Brooklyn has adapted to this situation admirably fast. Maybe that's because he HAS seen "Star Trek" and "Quantum Leap" (loved those references, by the way). At any rate, he certainly is handling himself well, all things considered.

"The year of our Lord Nine Hundred and Ninety-Seven." I don't know why, but I love that Finella stated the year that way. Brooklyn figures that the only way he'll get back is with the Phoenix Gate, and because he knows his "997 Clan History" he knows that half the Gate is with Goliath and the other half with...

...Demona, in a FANTASTIC final image!

Here's to the first part of a great Brooklyn story!

Greg responds...

I'm glad you like it!!

Response recorded on February 10, 2010