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Let's dive right in.
Once more, I will begin with the art. David Hutchison does a good job, and is a decent successor to Greg Guler here. This is especially true in regards to consistency. This and the Halloween arc ("Invitation Only," "Masque," and "Bash") are the only two that have a completely different artist for each issue within the arc. In the case of the Halloween arc, the contrast in styles between David Hedgecock, Nir Paniry, and Karine Charlebois was quite jarring at times. Here, however, the difference in styles between Greg Guler, David Hutchison and Ben Dunn isn't as drastic. Consequently, these three issues seem to..."flow together" better, I guess. The transition is easier.
At any rate, the only complaint I have is that Hutchison sometimes draws Brooklyn's wings in a semi-bat shape when their edges should be smooth. Other than that though, kudos to Mr. Hutchison.
Well, we pick up where we left off: Brooklyn, along with Mary and Finella, makes for Castle Wyvern ("Home sweet decimated home"). Brooklyn seems to feel like hooking his wing-claws on his shoulders (like his "Future Tense" version did) for now instead of caping them like usual. Interesting.
Brooklyn mentions getting back to his century, confusing Mary, who figured the 10th century was his century. It's funny--Brooklyn lived most of his life in the 900's, and yet after two years in the 1990's he already considers that his century. Of course, the fact that his clan's there probably has something to do with it.
I remember hearing a while back that the Constantine we saw on "GARGOYLES" was King Constantine III who ruled from 995-997 A.D. (what year is Brooklyn stranded in again?), and he was known as Constantine the...bald. Yeah, I kind of figured the "GARGOYLES" crew either missed that, or decided he looked better with a wig. But NOW we see why he was called that in the "GARGOYLES" universe. He cut his hair to turn his head into "the proper canvas." Canvas for what I wonder.
Given his reaction to Gillecomgain's brown-nosing answer, Constantine seems to like yes-men and toadies.
Mail Brigti (and now we know his first name) arrives with news about the Grim's army assembling at Rathveramoen, and Constantine sends him off to wait at the head of his (Constantine's) own army. Mail calls Gil, but Constantine wants to keep Gil nearby (it was the toadying that impressed him, wasn't it?), and begins an in-depth study of Gil's scars. Mail hesitates, but leaves when curtly dismissed.
Constantine then takes a moment to gloat about wiping out "the male line of the Three Brothers" (there's that reference only "Ask Greg" readers will fully understand again) before asking Brother Valmont about the Magus and Princess Katharine. Valmont..."read the entrails of half the goats in Scotland?!" YUCK!! EW! Okay, my appetite's gone. Anyway, short version, they're both out of Scotland, Tom's out of Scotland as well, but the Grimorum is still around and Valmont must get it.
"Okay, this is just freaky." Yeah, seeing your sleeping form would engender that reaction. But then Brooklyn moves among the remains of his massacred clan while thinking to himself how "freaky" is a nice, safe adjective in comparison to "horrific, traumatizing, or soul-killing." This is probably just as bad as living that night after the Massacre all over again. I like his description of it feeling like his heart is "turning to stone and Hakon is taking a mace to it."
He also finds a scabbard for his new sword. Interesting. I wonder what prompted him to keep the sword in the first place. He's been going for years without a weapon and now he decides to keep the first sword he grabs? Then again, with the King's army against you, a sword might come in handy.
Well, Mary asks after Tom, and Brooklyn starts to explain about Tom being married. This floors Mary who is still thinking of Tom as the little boy she left two years ago. Brooklyn leaps away (awkward transition that, since we don't see him actually leaving Mary in that panel), and resolves to keep his "big beak shut" just in case. Probably wise, things will be simpler that way.
I rather enjoy Brooklyn's annoyance at stone sleep (and wondering how Elisa can stand it). And we finally have a canon mention of the Humility Spell...but no explanation. Yes, we who have read "Ask Greg" and the GargWiki know the story, but for those who have only watched the series and read the comic, I wonder if this mention (along with the one about the "Three Brothers" and the later one about the Wind Ceremony) will whet their appetite for more stories and for the background on these references.
Given that Brooklyn's most likely stuck in the 10th century now without the Gate, he seems quite calm about it. No whining, no rage, just a sigh and "I guess this IS my century again, after all." Man, Brook's made of some pretty stern stuff. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be that calm.
And he calls Demona a witch. Oh, come on Brooklyn! Just replace the "w" with a "b" and be done with it. We all know you want to!
Demona arrives at a cave and announces to the gargs there the death of the Sruighlea cell (damn, I do not know how the hell that name is pronounced). Okay, so Demona's clan is split into separate cells. I did not know that (in fact, I've always wondered why the number of gargoyles Demona led in "City of Stone" seemed to change, and now I finally know). This particular cell she leads is full of familiar faces, though. There's her Second, and apparently his Mate (I know she's called something else in the scripts, but since she isn't referred to as that by the characters, I'm just going to call her Second's Mate). Also a new young gargoyle face and two beasts, one of whom looks like Bronx except for coloring, and one of whom is colored like Bronx. Oh, and the new young one has Hudson's skin tone and white hair and...okay, yes she's Hudson's biological daughter (True), and the beasts are obviously Bronx's biological parents. I wonder why this female beast's eyes glow red but Boudicca's didn't?
At any rate, "True" says they should hold a Wind Ceremony for the fallen (the first canon mention of that, too), but Demona once again shows that vengeance trumps all other concerns for her (save her own survival, of course). Bitch.
Maol Chalvim is his usual self as he spells out to Kenneth just why they can't count on gargoyle support...and then one shows up in their camp, carted in by Mary and Finella. I must admit, I hadn't realized Maol might hold some animosity towards Finella, but it makes perfect sense.
I wish I could have seen the first meeting between Brooklyn, Kenneth, Maol and Finlaech, but I guess something had to be sacrificed for page space.
Seeing Brooklyn pointing at the map and telling Kenneth to engage Constantine's forces at Rathveramoen while he (Brooklyn) brings reinforcements seems to cement the image of Brooklyn as strategist. Brook also seems intelligent enough to realize that he needs Demona's help and must put his own personal feelings aside (our boy is FINALLY growing up in that area!).
Brooklyn's little "break the fourth wall" bit in the last panel of page 13 seems to have provoked a mix of reactions. I've read a few people who seemed to think it was Greg's way of directing an "educational" message directly at them, and hating it just for that. Me? I find it a hilarious character moment of Brooklyn joking around. I mean, heck, *I* sometimes address a non-existent audience! It can lighten up a strange situation and make it bearable.
I liked the shots of Brooklyn discovering the massacred cell, and him hiding in a tree during the day. And then he encounters Demona...and immediately attacks her. Demona's too shocked by the fact that he's someone from Wyvern (still love the "By the Dragon" exclamation) to be too upset about this. Brooklyn tries to regain his composure, and almost loses it again just thinking about her betrayal. Still, they manage to keep from splatting and Demona...is smiling? Wow, she really looks happy to see an old clan-mate alive again. She mentions her new clan and asks how Brooklyn survived and if any others did. Brook, clearly uncomfortable at having to make nice, has to tell a half truth--omitting himself being cursed as well (and almost calling Hudson by name). Demona sees red (literally) at hearing about the sleep spell, until Brooklyn undercuts it by pointing out she managed to escape both fates and now Demona has to stammer an explanation. In the end, Brooklyn brushes it all aside for the greater good.
Wow, no sorcerers for Kenneth's side? Finella decides she'll try the book herself just because she knows Latin. Mary points out the danger, and Finella points out that they're already in danger. I love the little "Magus--the man, not the horse" bit.
Constantine has the messenger killed. And he does it for no reason, it would seem, other than he just likes being able to. Douche.
Mail Brigti seems saddened by that action, too. If that's the case, why does he stick with Constantine anyway (yeah, I know the answer will come in the next issue, and if anything shows how much of a sell-out Mail really is)? Gillecomgain on the other hand, seems to approve of Constantine's behavior (look at that smile).
And now we see Constantine's war-paint. The roots of the Hunter's mask. In addition to the three red slashes across black on the front, he has the same design on the back along with two false eyes (doubtless to confuse and unnerve foes in the heat of battle). I think Gil likes the new look. I recall, Greg, you saying at the Gathering that this was a way to explain how people wouldn't immediately conclude that Gillecomgain was the Hunter based on the design of the mask in "City of Stone." Whatever the reason, it's a striking visual.
The armies converge and Findlaech notes there are fewer Irish (Constantine's soldiers) than he thought. Yeah, Fin, that's because the rest are hiding in the forest waiting to outflank you! There's some great art here for the battle, especially in regards to the light of the setting sun. In the last panel of page 21, I think I can see winged shapes in the sky behind the fighting Constantine and Kenneth. Three guesses what they are (and the first two don't count).
Sure enough come the next page and we get an excellent two-page spread of the gargoyles arriving into battle. Second's Mate appears to have the same wing structure as Lexington--COOL! The striking visual of the gargoyles attacking is almost enough to make one forget there's fighting on the ground, too. Gil knocks Bodhe off his horse, Mail and Finlaech are heading towards one another, and Constantine and Kenneth are still fighting. I wonder where Maol is in all of this?
The last page brings us parallel panels of simultaneous events again. Demona's Second apparently likes a good battle, and is glad they followed the "gargoyle of the sword" (looks like Brooklyn just picked up a new name). Demona (who casually BREAKS A MAN'S NECK), is already planning to turn on the Grim after the battle is won (wow, Demona's planning betrayal, what a surprise). Meanwhile, Finella is still intent on learning a spell, and doesn't realize until too late that all her guards have been killed by the flaming arrows of Brother Valmont, who snatches the Grimorum and reveals his intention to turn on HIS boss, Constantine. And then both he and Demona share the EXACT same thought at the EXACT same time: conquering Scotland! (Yeah, they haven't quite graduated to "take over the world" yet.)
Damn cliffhanger! Then again, I didn't have to wait two months for the conclusion to this story....
There are certain advantages to our publishing pattern, huh?