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My Review For Gargoyles #12, "Phoenix"...
- So, we have finally come to the last chapter of Clan-Building. As with Issue #11, I'll do my best to review this one with my initial impressions at the forefront, though I know I won't be able to resist mentioning further information and insight from the Gathering.
- Again, lets start with this awesome cover. After all the mixed feelings I've had about the numerous covers (both from Gargoyles and Bad Guys), I'm happy that this final cover really hit all the right spots. It is brightly colored and visually interesting. It is funny due to the obvious Star Wars reference and thus works well to grab the attention of comic book store shoppers. It has a lot going on without giving anything away or being too busy. I really think it is the best cover (aside from Issue #1 and possibly #5) and so I was thrilled it made it to the cover of Clan-Building Volume 2.
- On to the meat of the book now (and boy, is there a lot of meat, this thing is crammed full), we open, no in 997 with Brooklyn as I suspected, but rather in 1997 with Goliath. His monologue here is really great. It bookends this chapter, but more importantly it bookends the Clan-Building series as it parallels directly with Goliath's monologue to Elisa (and us) in Issue #1 about his clan. You could even say it goes all the way back to the opening sequence of the Season 2 episodes. Anyway, it works beautifully here. I can't help but think of Closing Ceremonies at the Gathering when I read it now. Greg Weisman talked about how the moment was so bittersweet, and it was... is. But reading this issue, and Goliath's monologue in particular, really gives me hope for this franchise and this fandom.
- Meanwhile, a thousand years ago, Brook is giving his own inner monologue, but he isn't doing it in quiet solitude, he is giving it in the thick of the Battle of Rathveramoen! I like that even as people are dieing all around him and his own life is truly at risk, his thoughts dwell on his family back home. We worries that they are worried about him, but of course, they barely have time to worry at all, but he doesn't know that yet. But he realizes to get home to see his family again, his job is to help the Grim win the battle, keep the Grimorum out of the wrong hands, and keep the last bunch of gargoyles in Scotland safe. Of course, all of these objectives are in jeopardy of going undone. Ironically, the battle itself seems to be going well. Brooklyn, "Demona" and the clan are kicking some ass (or rather breaking some necks, slicing some flesh and causing some heavy damage from high-altitude drops). This battle is a lot of fun visually. And there is a lot going on. Brook has a couple really great moments. First he and a fellow gargoyle, "Bro", have this great exchange about being rookery brothers. It was very cool to finally meet a rookery sibling of the trio (knowing that they were, of course), but it wasn't until the Gathering where Greg Weisman pointed out that the gargoyle behind these two watching this exchange is probably Brooklyn's BIOLOGICAL brother. How cool is that?! We get a great example of how relationships work within gargoyle clans. So cool, and such a contrast to what we see going on with the humans, where blood relationships define everything (and seem to be causing a lot of trouble). Then Brooklyn gets a very cool moment with Demona where they discuss Goliath. She is such a hypocrite here. She bitches that when the humans are finished fighting each other, they will come after the gargoyles, but her plan is to kill their human allies once they've defeated their rivals! Does she even hear herself? Well, this is Demona, her own worst enemy after all.
- While the battle rages, not far away, the Grimorum has finally fallen into the wrong hands. Mary and Finella (and Magus the horse) do what they can to get the book back, but to little avail. Valmont uses the book to cast a pretty nasty spell that seems to amplify the one he has used a few times before. Fiery arrows rain down on the battle and a lot of gargoyles are injured or killed. We get a really sad scene of the sacrifice of one gargoyle for her mate. But this whole thing makes me so angry at Demona. She uses these deaths (both in this chapter and in City of Stone) as fuel for her hate, but in doing so she negates all that they are fighting and dying for. And THEN, she remarks how she cannot undo these awful things that have happened. Well, duh, girl, but making things worse is not the solution! What a hypocrite and a bitch! She drives me nuts, and to all of the Demona-apologist fans out there I ask you to pay attention to what is going on here.
- Meanwhile, the humans are battling it out. Constantine and the Grim seem evenly matched until Constantine threatens Bodhe, then the Grim really lets him have it. Constantine's reign as King ends as it begins, with someone getting stabbed, though at least this isn't a cold murder, but a death in battle. The Grim has that over Constantine. And speaking of Bodhe, he seems to be getting trounced by Gillecomgain, which is no surprise in that Gille is twice his size and probably much more skilled in battle. Bodhe seems to barely survive, and only luck saves him when Gille gets distracted by his father's death, but you can tell the event probably traumatized him for life (Greg indicated at the Gathering that this event, the murder of the Grim a few years later and the murder of Bodhe's own sone a few years after that all lead to his behavior in City of Stone. This all has made Bodhe very interesting to me). Findlaech really comes across as a good guy here, he wanted to share with his brother and Mail Brigti refused, he didn't want to kill his nephew because after it all he didn't want to end his brother's line. It really makes me wonder what Findlaech thought when Maol Chalvim usurped the Grim a few years down the line. And speaking of that, some of Constantine's final words seem almost prophetic. He senses Maol's thirst for the throne and blattanly tells the Grim of it. He even inspires Gillecomgain to become the first Hunter.
- Anyway, the battle ends, the arrows are stopped and just when things seem to have called down the Phoenix reappears. Brooklyn is understandably annoyed. He doesn't get to see what comes next, and we can relate, we don't either. Guess it is off to hit the history books to see what happened next... for now. Before he is off, Brook smoothly recovers the Grimorum from Demona and passes it back to Finella and Mary. I was a bit surprised that Finella didn't get a chance to use magic herself as I thought she would due to her talk in #11, but I wasn't surprised that Mary and Finella asked to go with Brooklyn, having had that idea spoiled for me years ago online. I suspect that all three of them thought they would be going right back to the time and place Brook came from and I suspect therein lies Mary's real motivation. I think she wants to see Tom again and knows he is safe and alive (and married) in Brook's time. Well, we don't get to find out... yet. The Phoenix, once again, seems to have Brooklyn singled out and we can assume the "Time-Fowl" snatched up Mary and Finella and the Grimorum too.
- So we, the audience, pop back to 1997 to the moments right after Brooklyn left... and he reappears. We are told that he is not alone, and I think the less-informed (or less spoiled) fan might think Finella and Mary are with him, but most of us know better. Back at the Castle, Hudson and Lex finally come home from London and as I suspected Coldstone and Coldfire came with. I'm thrilled that they are finally members of the Clan in full. And then we come to probably the most anticipated moment for fans for the last ten years. The reveal of Brooklyn's family. I have to admit, I didn't know what to expect outside of a female Ishimuran gargoyle, her and Brook's son and a gargoyle beast (and an egg, okay I had a good idea what the egg would look like). Katana is very cool. I love that we finally have a beaked female in the canon, I love that attention was paid to her number of fingers and toes to reflect her clan of origin. I do have a slight worry that the two beaked gargoyles would end up together. I know that a beaked gargoyle could just as well mate with a non-beaked gargoyle, but I worry that some fans might not see this. I dunno. A minor worry for me. Gnash is a lot of fun, he seems older than his age indicates. Must be the weapon. Really, the whole family seems like they have a lot of stories to tell. Or rather, for Greg to tell. I like Brooklyn's line about his journey being a long story and "some of it even true". Ties us nicely with the journey Goliath set us on back in #2 and with Shari's tales. And lets not forget Fu-Dog. I LOVE Fu-Dog's design. Very cool. I hope he and Bronx get along. Other nice things about this final scene include Hudson laughing and being so happy. When I see him here, I think back to his line in "The Gathering" where he is so happy that they are not the last and not alone. He gets to see his decimated clan grow. How cool. I really like how Angela wants to hold 'Egwardo'. I never thought about her never having seen an egg before (I suppose I figured she saw the clutches in Ishimura or ChacIxChel), but I love the motherly aspect this gives her and Broadway's reaction to it. A lot of fans seem to focus on Katana's reluctance to let go of the egg, but I don't see that as that big of a deal. It isn't like she violently refused, and after all they've been through, you have to understand her reluctance. Anyway, Elisa's reaction to showing up was really cool. I mean she was probably expecting Goliath, Bronx, Broadway, Angela and Brooklyn at most. Instead she comes out of the elevator too see this whole motley crew. Coldstone, Coldfire, Katana, Gnash, Fu-Dog and even Brooklyn must've been a real shock. I like her "Whoa... Goliath...?" But, there isn't time for explanations, we have to go kick some butt. As Greg indicated at the Gathering, I'm sure they did. All these gargoyles versus Wolf, Jackal and Hyena. As Lex states, they'll "never know what hit 'em!" A GREAT ending to this awesome Clan-Building arc. Of course, it is "Never The End..." Not for the Manhattan Clan or the Gargoyles series or the fandom. This comic couldn't have been released at a more poignant time. Great job, Greg. Really, this is awesome stuff. And ALL of the artists made it work so beautifully as well. Thank You!
Eagerly awaiting Gargoyles #13, "Manhattan, Chapter One"...
Thanks, Matt. I can't wait to write it!