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Comment Room Archive

Comments for the week ending September 6, 2020

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Thanks Todd, I guess I'll start covering "Spirits of Ash and Foam" next week.
Maybe by the time we finish that book some more information on Young Justice's next season will be available.

Insert Inspirational Quote Here:________

MATTHEW - Thanks for your summary of "Rain of the Ghosts". I'd noted as well that Miranda doesn't get to take part in the main adventure with Rain and Charlie; fortunately, that gets rectified in the next book. Which I'm looking forward to rereading, by the way.
Todd Jensen

So now that "Rain of the Ghosts" is over, it's time for me to talk about my own personal pros and cons.

To get the cons out of the way. This pretty obviously reads like a first novel; Greg has extensive experience with script writing which is why at times the book doesn't feel like the story is flowing quite right, at times jumping straight from one scene to the next, if that makes sense. There are other times when he decided to go FULL CAPS for some reason, which again feels like something you'd read in a script.
Another problem is that the story feels kinda small, I know it only takes place over the course of a few days but we're introduced to our main character, her family, her friend (Miranda doesn't really get to do all that much). There's chunk of the story dedicated to her grief, a little hint of the supernatural, her bracelet is stolen, "returned," a narrow escape from the villain, a huge climax then the falling action where it ends with a party. I feel a bit more time could be spent building the fictional island where the characters live, maybe help establish how small it feels to a local to live there thus helping give a better sense of urgency for Rain and Charlie to want to leave. Because right now Charlie is mostly dragged along do to the nature of being Rain's best friend and his crush on her.
Because Bastian is the primary connection to the characters experience to the supernatural and the fact that he and the other ghosts don't properly manifest until the climax means that we only really get hints for most of the story before jumping into the deep end. The book sets up a lot for the future with the Searcher's quest, the chess game between Julia against Maq and Opie and Callahan's own treasure hunt for his unseen employer. This book would've benefited from some time dedicated to fleshing out its own story as well as setting the pieces for the future.

Now the pros: To start with, most of the problems the first book experienced would be fixed by the second so there's that. Also, Greg is really good at hooking the audience with a premise as well as originality. There had been Spider-Man shows before Spectacular but none have been able to capture that distinct feel. Now I don't know if there are many books set within the Caribbean, much less fictional islands but there's certainly a unique feel to the story being set there.
Another thing, and I've mentioned this before, is that I appreciate the time spent letting characters grieve. There's just the right amount of sorrow to it without feeling angsty.

Now, should we move onto "Spirits of Ash and Foam?" Because I'm personally looking forward to that. That's when Greg's talent as a storyteller really takes off.

Insert Inspirational Quote Here:________

Except that it didn't embed itself as thoroughly in the modern consciousness as his depiction of Macbeth did.

(I've mentioned my speculation that, in the Gargoyles Universe, Demona might have subtly manipulated Joan into helping the French for her own purposes - whatever they were - though I suspect that such a concept would have been too controversial for the series if it was revived. It does give me the creativity demon of Joan wondering why the "heavenly voices" urging her to lead the French to victory have such a bad French accent....)

I've read "Henry VI Parts Two and Three" since. They continue the story with the start of the Wars of the Roses in England, assisted by Henry VI being an ineffective (though kindly) king, as well as by the feuds among the English nobility. (You could describe it as like "Game of Thrones" without the fantasy elements - almost, since there's a scene in Part Two where the ambitious wife of the Duke of Gloucester hires a witch and a wizard to conjure up a demon and get information about the fates of the King and those nobles whom she sees as standing in her husband's way; the demon gives only vague information, that does come true in surprising way. He says of one nobleman that he'll die "by water"; the duke is later on killed by pirates at sea, which matches the words well, but with the twist that the pirate who kills him is named "Walter", which was pronounced like "water" in Shakespeare's time.) Part Two also includes a peasant revolt led by a scheming rabble-rouser named Jack Cade, whose second in command gives the best-known line in the trilogy, "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."

One of the most important elements in Parts Two and Three is the introduction of the future Richard III, established as the villainous hunchback (another example of the Macbeth treatment; I wonder whether, in the Gargoyles Universe, Macbeth and Richard III ever crossed paths) in "Richard III" and eagerly scheming already (though concealing his full ambitions from his compatriots).

Todd Jensen

TODD> "Joan of Arc plays a major role in it, though Shakespeare (naturally, being English) portrays her in a bad light."

Ol' Billy Shakes giving poor Jeanne the Macbeth treatment.

“Philosophy will clip an Angel's wings, conquer all mysteries by rule and line, empty the haunted air, and gnomèd mine - Unweave a rainbow, as it erewhile made the tender-person'd Lamia melt into a shade” - John Keats, Lamia

MATTHEW - Thanks for your review of the closing chapters.

We got a fairly obvious "Gargoyles" reference with the "Broadway niner-niner-four". (And I still smile at the line about "We're a bit late".)

Speaking of reading and reviews, I recently embarked on a project of reading all of Shakespeare's plays, start to finish, from an old collection that does all the plays in the order it's thought that Shakespeare wrote them, starting with "Henry VI Part One". Since Shakespeare was a major influence on "Gargoyles", I thought I'd give a few notes on each play here as I read it.

"Henry VI Part One" does seem like beginner's work (it isn't performed too often nowadays, partly because of the way Shakespeare portrayed Joan of Arc - see below); it's largely an attempt at "historical epic". It opens with the funeral of Henry V (whom Shakespeare will be covering in more detail in the prequels, "Henry IV Parts One and Two" and "Henry V"), attended by four of the leading nobles, the Dukes of Bedford and Gloucester (Henry V's younger brothers), the Bishop of Winchester, and the Duke of Exeter (who serves as a sort of Chorus-figure). In the opening scene, Shakespeare establishes that Gloucester and Winchester are bitter enemies (and sides with Gloucester; Winchester is portrayed as a corrupt and scheming bishop, who late in the play gets promoted to Cardinal - thanks to some bribes to the Pope). while Bedford is trying to keep peace between them, and taking over the war effort in France, which has reversed after Henry's death.

The reversa, undoing Henry's triumph at Agincourt in the play that Shakespeare will be writing long after, is one of the major elements of "Henry VI Part One". Joan of Arc plays a major role in it, though Shakespeare (naturally, being English) portrays her in a bad light; she makes a few speeches claiming to be a Heaven-sent champion, but is really in league with the powers of darkness, and when she's losing her last battle, calls upon demons to help her (they refuse). When Joan is captured and sentenced to be burnt at the stake, her old father, a shepherd, shows up grieving over her forthcoming execution, until Joan disowns him, crying "Get away, you stupid old peasant! You're not my father! I'm of royal birth!" The shocked father tells the English to burn the ungrateful brat. Joan, after accusing the English of having paid the shepherd to pretend to be her father, then makes one last attempt to pose as a divine champion, but when that fails, claims to be pregnant by one after another of the French nobility - and never mind that this dynamites her "holy virgin" claims. All she succeeds in doing is disgusting the English even more, and she rains curses upon them as she's led away to the stake (curses that may come true with the civil strife that'll soon grip England). Hence, as I mentioned above, why the play isn't performed too often.

Shakespeare puts more blame for the English losing the war in France upon the quarrels among the English nobility. For example, the leading English general, Lord Talbot, is defeated by Joan because two English nobles who are supposed to be bringing him reinforcements hate each other so much that they can't work together. (Much of the play revolves around Talbot, who's portrayed as a dashing English hero, one of the few English nobles who's putting England above his politicking.)

The feuds among the English nobility at home are the second thread in the play. I mentioned the quarrel between Gloucester and Winchester above; this crops up a few times, leading to fights between their followers (the Mayor of London steps in when they get into a brawl outside the Tower of London, forbidding them to carry weapons; they simply start throwing stones at each other, breaking a lot of windows in the process). An even bigger quarrel is between the Earl of Somerset and the Duke of York (the two nobles, incidentally, who were supposed to be helping Lord Talbot), which begins when they have an argument in a rose garden, and decide to mark votes among their followers by picking roses, white roses for York's followers, red roses for Somerset's, that will lead to the Wars of the Roses. (York wins the initial argument, four white roses to two red roses.) Henry VI, the title character (the young and peaceful but not too forceful son of Henry V), tries to reconcile them, but without success. To add to the complications, York learns from a dying kinsman, Ednumd Mortimer, that he has a better claim to the English throne than Henry (whose grandfather usurped the throne, as Shakespeare will later deal with in the prequels).

The play is mostly either quarrels among the English nobles or fighting in France, without the depth that Shakespeare's later works will show, but is still fairly enjoyable, if you like historical fiction with a medieval setting (as I do) and can overlook the treatment of Joan of Arc.

Todd Jensen

So covering chapters 16, 17, 18 and finally 19 we come to the end of "Rain of the Ghosts."

The big revelations in this chapters are the true antagonists of the series, the man behind Callahan Mr. Setebos and the Hura-Hupia Julia. I actually forgot that Hura-Hupia translates to "Wind Ghost" and while that sounds pretty hardcore I find it interesting that she bristles at being called that, like the title is beneath her. So before the second book came out I kind of thought that she was perhaps an old, vindictive Caribbean goddess. Someone like Oberon, an immensely powerful being that feels that human morality is beneath them. Now this turned out to be not the case and Julia ended up being even worse.

One little musical note, the title of the last chapter "Laissez les bons temps rouler" is referenced at the end of summer as the kids are blasting "Let the Good Times Roll" by The Cars. But the expression itself is Cajun French and was more associated with the Louis Jordan song, and the lyrics feel a little more apt for the book:

Hey everybody, let's have some fun
You only live but once, and when you're dead you're done
So let the good times roll, let the good times roll
Don't care if you're young or old, get together let the good times roll.

Insert Inspirational Quote Here:________

ACHERON> We try.
“Philosophy will clip an Angel's wings, conquer all mysteries by rule and line, empty the haunted air, and gnomèd mine - Unweave a rainbow, as it erewhile made the tender-person'd Lamia melt into a shade” - John Keats, Lamia

I love that this site is still going after so many years. Gargoyles forever!


Demona May - [realdemona at yahoo dot com]
Real Living Insane Gargoyle....


Oh, Phoenician already got 4th. Well there goes my plan to make a pun on covering the last four chapters tomorrow.

Anyway, Team Four Star will be hosting Ben Diskin (Venom in Spectacular Spider-Man and Harm, Malfic on Young Justice) on their Twitch channel this Wednesday at 1 pm PST, they'll be doing Q&A after the interview so I'd highly recommend checking them out.

You can find their channel here: https://www.twitch.tv/streamfourstar

Insert Inspirational Quote Here:________


Speaking of YJ, I just received today my copy of the third season soundtrack in the mail! Limited edition, it looks like they're still available from La-La Land Records -- https://lalalandrecords.com/young-justice-outsiders-limited-edition-2-cd-set/

"The suspense is terrible, I hope it lasts" -- Willy Wonka

Din, Farore, and Nayru!

Liah: Greg doesn't typically answer questions in this Comment Room, and unfortunately the queue to submit questions through the normal process is currently closed.

That being said, based on a number of his responses over the years (most recently the one below) I think it's a safe bet he would say "Gargoyles":


Not to say that Greg isn't proud of all his works - he clearly and evidently is - but Gargoyles was one where he was attached at every stage, from gestation through the finished work, and co-created all of its characters, settings, and concepts.

No matter how fun it is to play with toys invented by someone else (as in Young Justice, SpecSpidey, W.I.T.C.H., etc.), I'd think it's natural to be extra-proud of a tapestry you got to weave from scratch.

Masterdramon - [kmc12009 at mymail dot pomona dot edu]
"And that means I'm...I'm on the path to doom!" - Katarina Claes

What show are you most proud of?
Liah - [themashupkq at Gmail dot com]

Todd Jensen