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Once again, excellent art from Ben Dunn that also remains consistent with the work of the previous two artists. I feel he sometimes puts in a few too many wrinkles/flecks/spots on Goliath and Brooklyn, and he has a tendency to draw some of the women's faces (especially Finella) in a style too similar to Japanese manga. Also, Maol Chalvim's face looks a bit...off to me on page 11 (it doesn't look as "long" as it should to me). Demona's, too, on occasion. But overall, a bang up job.
This chapter actually begins in 1997 with Goliath (in his "thinker" pose) ruminating on how a thousand years ago "the humans" thought they had crushed his kind completely, before we go back to Brooklyn in 997 thinking about how "a thousand years from now" Broadway and Angela are wondering if he'll come back. I like that bit of parallelism.
"Damn good question." I'll never get over the casual swearing (no matter how mild).
For the next few pages, we're treated to Brooklyn's interior monologue as he dishes out exposition. I love how he calls the Phoenix the "Time-Fowl." He would be the type to give a casual name to a magical entity.
I can't help but wonder what kind of sword Brooklyn's using. I've heard people call it a broadsword, but Brooklyn sometimes swings it two-handed. Wouldn't that make it a bastard sword?
Meanwhile, Valmont is gloating about having the Grimorum. "First of the Three Keys to Power...the pathway to Avalon...the fate of Scotland in my hands!" Okay, it's official: Valmont is Archmage Jr.
Well, Mary's clever enough to pull the wagon out from under him. Pity it wasn't enough to make him drop the book.
Back to Brooklyn, as he continues to think about what his actions mean for the gargoyles he brought out of hiding. After he and the gargoyle with the beaky nose lift and drop a couple of soldiers, Brook gets carried away and calls him "bro" and tries to give a high-five (or high-four, in this case). He's able to recover quickly enough, though (easy when you can say "bro" is short for "rookery brother"). I like the camaraderie he managed to pull off with the other garg here.
I also like how he refers to Demona as his "least favorite personal demon." Brooklyn's no fool, he knows Demona's planning a betrayal, but he's got to play along.
Let me take this moment to say that, even if she is the Demona from 997, I am REALLY glad to see Demona back again. I've really missed her. And she is VICIOUS in battle! Clawing people across the face seems to be a thing with her.
Brooklyn's response to Demona's compliment on his battle prowess ("I had a good teacher...Goliath") is wonderful. To me it both shows the respect he has for Goliath, and also acts as his way of sticking it to Demona. She, however, takes it as an opportunity to disparage Goliath's trust of humans, and state that the humans will turn on the gargoyles at the end of battle (you're one to talk, Ms. Backstabby McBackstab).
Meanwhile Constantine taunts Kenneth with talk of "superior numbers" and how he has no mercy (which he says with a vicious smile). Okay, Constantine belongs under the "Complete Monster" category of villain. You know the kind of villain you love to hate? Well, this isn't that kind of villain. This is the type of villain you just want to see die horribly. And Gillecomgain is putting himself in that very same category with his actions here. Sure he was a monster in "City of Stone," but somehow what we see of him here makes him even worse! He's trying to kill poor Bodhe (no wonder the kid grew into a coward) and he's doing it with glee! And Constantine is egging him on. "It is the Hunter's Moon, be a hunter for your king!" (I love the close-ups of both Constantine and Gillecomgain in those two panels--page 9). Findlaech makes an offhand remark to his adversary, Mail Brigti, to the effect of Gil seeming like Constantine's son.
Mail just ignores that, fights him and reveals...that he and Findlaech are half-brothers! I had remembered hearing about this (that Gillecomgain and Macbeth were actually related), but I wondered why Gil would be a peasant if that was the case. Now we get a story where this is explained. It also explains why Mail always acted so angry (bitterness, and he may have taken some of it out on Gil). Findlaech definitely comes across as having the moral high ground, having offered to share Ruaidri's (their father) inheritance, but Mail seems determined to have everything, even if it means siding with a Complete Monster.
And then Brother Valmont casts a spell. While Finella is trying to figure out the translation, Maol finally shows up. Turns out he's quicker to understand Latin, and orders the women to take cover while he threatens Valmont to make him call off the spell. Actually, this shot of Maol Chalvim could almost be considered a hero shot. Maol's a strange character. Not nice, by any stretch of the imagination, and I know he's going to turn on poor, good Kenneth eight years on, but somehow he's able to pull of these "hero" type moments. Unfortunately, the threat doesn't work on Valmont. And Finella figures out the spell just in time to take cover.
The spell? Arrows begin to rain down from the skies (what IS it with Brother Valmont and arrows?).
Demona's Second's Mate shields him from the arrows with her own body and dies (NOOOOO!)! And she's not the only one getting hit--there are several gargoyle silhouettes in the background, some pierced with the arrows (NOOOO! multiplied by however many died). But she is the one we've seen the most of, and the fact that she's the mate of a gargoyle we are (slightly) more familiar with, helps to personalize it as he grieves for her, poor guy. Brooklyn and even Demona are horrified by this turn of events.
To be fair, I kind of figured she'd die before the end of the comic arc simply because we never saw her in "City of Stone." Of course, we never saw the beasts or "True" there either, so....
At any rate, farewell, oh web-winged female. We hardly knew ye.
Poor Magus the horse gets hit, too (NO! NOT THE HORSE!).
Valmont takes this opportunity to gloat to Maol...and loses his right hand to Brooklyn for his troubles. I was actually quite impressed, Greg, that you managed to go this far. Granted, we don't see the actual stump of the hand, but it's still a pretty shocking turn of events. And of course, it couldn't have happened to a more deserving jerk.
Maol's line, "The arrows...they still reign." Love the wordplay there (something that wouldn't come across in spoken dialogue, sadly).
Is it just me, or does Finella REALLY want to do magic. Maybe she's just trying to do SOMETHING and not feel useless. At any rate, a real sorceress steps in: Demona. She manages to reverse the spell (and look cool while doing it), but she can't bring any who died back to life, of course.
And one last casualty of the arrows is revealed: Mail Brigti (NOO--wait, what am I saying, YEEEESS!). Findlaech may be a big enough man to cry over his treacherous half-brother, but as far as I'm concerned, after following Constantine, a man he KNOWS is evil, just for his own gain, Mail Brigti got his just deserts.
Unfortunately, the arrows didn't hit the selectively blind Gillecomgain, who chooses to not see the arrows and believe that his father died by Findlaech's hand. Findlaech warns Gil not to cross him, mostly because he doesn't want to see his brother's line end. Gil chooses to believe it's because Findlaech fears him. This whole confrontation, along with the struggle over Ruaidri's inheritance, adds a whole new level to the Hunter's assassination of Findlaech in "City of Stone." Damn. The only reason they don't fight now is because Constantine and Kenneth's fight passes right between them (even a rain of arrows doesn't stop these guys!).
Geez, Constantine just doesn't shut up! And this is the second time he's gone on about his "superior numbers." He promises to kill Maol Chalvim (while hinting at Maol's future turn) after he kills Kenneth's son Bodhe (well, he promises to gut Bodhe while calling him a very unflattering word). This is the last straw for Kenneth ("You shouldn't make Kenneth angry, Constantine...you wouldn't like him when he's angry"). Kenneth throws away his shield and begins attacking Constantine with both hands on his sword. He manages to unhorse Constantine and slay him. I love the look on both Constantine and Gillecomgain's face before Kenneth drives the blade home (where's your "superior numbers" now, Constantine?). In contrast to Constantine earlier, Kenneth is silent through all this part. It reminds me of a quote from Terry Pratchett's Discworld book "Men at Arms." To paraphrase it shortly, "If you are staring down a loaded crossbow, pray that the man on the other end is an evil man. Because an evil man will want you to know you are beaten, so he will talk and gloat and put off the moment of killing you for as long as possible the way a man might put off smoking a good cigar. A good man will just kill you without a word." Seems to fit this situation.
Well, Demona is in awe at having the Grimorum Arcanorum in her hands, while Brooklyn tries to figure out how to separate it from her. And then the Phoenix appears again. I wonder why Brooklyn focused on "Timedance" as his metaphor of choice, embellishing it with such gems as "chronal-boogie" and "temporal-tune." I can definitely understand his frustration at not being able to know how everything turned out (guess he'll be hitting the books when he gets back).
I loved Brooklyn's way of tricking Demona into giving him the Grimorum (playing on her desire for power, offering to hold the book while she got her half of the Gate). I can only wonder what Demona thought and did after he was gone. This whole thing also adds another level to "Temptation"--how much of this encounter did Demona remember through the years?
Well, Brook's ready to go, but so are Mary and Finella, much to his dismay.
But now we travel back to the present (well, 1997) and repeat the last few panels we saw of Broadway and Angela, and--THERE! In the last panel of page 20! In that panel, Angela has her collar (a bit more wrinkled than usual, but it's there), but in the panel before, and the panel after (first panel of page 21) she has no collar! Just let her keep the collar already!
Anyway, I liked Brooklyn's "Forever...forty years...forty seconds...however you keep time, the Dance is finally done." So cool. And yeah, I've already been spoiled so the "He's not alone" misdirection didn't work on me, but I can appreciate the effect it might have on readers not "in the know."
Well, we return to Goliath and his ruminations. But what's this? Lexington and Hudson have returned...and they brought Coldstone and Coldfire! Goliath is, needless to say, overjoyed by this turn of events. And then Broadway arrives to say that Brooklyn went on "a little trip" of his own and...well, Goliath has to see for himself.
Okay, this is IT! The part I've waited 12 years for. The first canon appearance of Brooklyn's mate, Katana. Not to mention his son, Nashville, and Fu-Dog, and how Brooklyn himself looks after his journey. I will admit, I had not expected him to so closely resemble his "Future Tense" self, but I'm not complaining (that armor just looks cool). And man is he armed to the teeth or WHAT? That Scottish sword (which he apparently kept with him throughout all 40 years), a Japanese Katana, a hand pistol (or blaster of some kind) and a Big Fricken' Futuristic Rifle. It also seems he lost his left eye somewhere along the way. Funny, that's the same eye Hudson lost sight in. You know, Broadway may be Hudson's biological son, but Brooklyn seems to me to take after the old garg a lot more than anyone else.
And Nashville (or Gnash, as he prefers to be called) is pretty much what I expected. I didn't know his coloring, and he looks a lot tougher than I would have thought (he's the physical equivalent of a 9-year-old, but then again, he's a time-traveling gargoyle), and I didn't expect him to be ARMED with a Japanese blade, but yeah, he's definitely Brooklyn's son. The clothes were a surprise, too--more modern than either of his parents, which makes sense I guess (so U.S.N. stands for "U.S. Navy?" Interesting).
And Fu-Dog...what can I say. He's like a green lion (and pretty darn cool looking).
But Katana...oh man, where do I begin? Well, let's start with the fact that she is the first major beaked female in the canon. I am ashamed to admit that in all those 12 years, I was never able to picture her beaked. I knew intellectually that it was a possibility, but for some reason I could never wrap my mind around it. Maybe it was the difficulty of trying to picture a beaked female that DIDN'T just look like Brooklyn with boobs.
But now Katana's been revealed and...the first word that popped into my mind to describe her was "cute." There's just something about her face that lends itself to that. Her beak is smaller than Brooklyn's, and maybe that helps. Her hair is gorgeous, and I love the style. But the real secret is in her eyes and expression. God, those eyes are perfectly shaped, and the look in them, coupled with her smile.... You said, Greg, that her and Brooklyn's relationship would have been like Sam and Diane, or Beatrice and Benedick, and I can just see ALL of that in the look on her face here.
As for the rest, I somehow always figured she'd be some shade of blue. I love the design of her clothes (I have looked extensively at Robby Bevard's design sheet for her). I'd really like to see her use those war fans at some point. I'm still surprised at her having one digit less per appendage (3 instead of 4). And then there's how she acts with her egg. When Angela asked to hold it, she seemed guarded. And she even takes the egg into battle with her! I can think of only one reason she would do that: she can protect that egg from ANYTHING the world can throw at her!
All this, and she didn't even get a single line in this issue (even Gnash got ONE). Damn. Well, you can't have everything. But I still can't wait for the next installment of the "GARGOYLES" comic, or for the "TIMEDANCER" spin off. I want to hear Katana speak (figuratively, of course). I want to see her fight. I want to see her and Brooklyn's relationship. I want to see her three-fingered hand intertwined with his four-fingered one. God, it's going to be a long wait.
"Egwardo?" Brooklyn, some things about you never change.
The group shot at the top of page 23 is kind of neat. I love all their reactions. Bronx and Fu-Dog are sniffing at each other, Angela's excited over the egg, Hudson's laughing, Lex seems to be chatting with Gnash, and Brooklyn...he just seems happy to be home again.
Then Elisa comes in and has a wonderful reaction to the overnight change in the clan's roster. Seriously, I can't help laughing everytime I imagine Salli Richardson saying that line.
Well, Jackal's busted Hyena and Wolf out of prison and they're wreaking Times Square, so the WHOLE FRICKEN' CLAN goes out to meat them. Lex is right, "The Pack'll never know what hit 'em."
This was a great issue, a great arc, and a great series. If I had any complaints about this particular issue it's that the last four pages felt very rushed. I mean it's like BOOM--Lex and Hudson--BOOM--Coldstone and Coldfire--BIG BOOM--Brooklyn and family--BOOM--Pack attacks--BOOM--attack Pack. I felt like I couldn't catch my breath! And this just makes me want another issue right NOW!
"Never the End..." eh? I'll drink to that, but like I said before "It's going to be a long wait." Still, here's to what we did get.
Thank you, Greg!
You're very welcome. Thanks for keeping the faith all these years.