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The Phoenix Gate

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Comments for the week ending December 6, 2020

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Thanks for the latest review, Matthew.

This is another episode I vaguely remember, although I needed your review to bring it back to me ("Young Justice" didn't linger in my memories as strongly as, say, "Gargoyles" - in the way that I remember clearly every "Gargoyles" episode and what happened in it, but "Young Justice" is more of a blur - maybe because straight super-hero isn't as much my kind of genre); the parts I most recall was the scene between Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne at the diner (including their orders to go), the talk about the MONQUI acronym, and Artemis's arrow.

When I see "Amazo" in print, I keep thinking of it as being derived from "Amazon", but when I heard it spoken, it indicated that the name was derived from "amaze" or "amazing" instead. The difference that pronunciation can make.

Todd Jensen

This was supposed to come earlier. Watched "Schooled" today, a clever title considering it involves several characters getting schooled and the climax taking place in one. So one thing I actually noticed watching the opening of this episode is that not a whole lot of the series takes place in Metropolis, or Gotham for that matter. It also shows the rather awkward situation Superman and Superboy occupy, whether Superboy is his son or not.

Some people argue that this episode shows off Superman in his worst light for refusing to acknowledge Superboy as his son, I feel the whole issue is a lot more complicated. Trying to force a relationship between two people is problematic at best and the distinct possibility that Superman isn't ready to be a father or father figure. And despite the underlying desire to be around Superman...well. Superboy still has his anger issues and as Batman spells out the two of them are pretty hardheaded. To say nothing of Clark's own warning that he's a reminder of everything that Superboy isn't and that may create some resentment. There's also the issue on whether a clone of someone counts as a child, I don't know what's been argued in these hypotheticals but they have to be pretty complicated.

We're introduced to Black Canary this episode as one of the Team's mentors and combat trainer. Considering her skill in hand-to-hand in the comics it stands to reason that she'd be the one training them. One thing I should bring up is her technique of "acting rather than reacting" plays into the hard vs. soft teachings of martial arts. I bring this up because despite her philosophy she rather obviously uses judo in her spar against Suberboy, which for reference is a soft style which often relies on reacting and turning your opponent's strength against them. By the way, Greg has admitted that Black Canary is one of his favorite superheroes and yet he avoids the pitfall many creators end up in when working with their favorites, that is making them the center of attention. While she does play an important role in the series she never steals the spotlight from the main characters.

The action of this episode is really great and actually has an interesting reversal when it comes to pacing and stakes. The fight against the MONQIs on the highway is fast-paced and exhilarating despite them not being much of a threat. While the fight against Amazo has a slower pace despite being a much bigger threat, especially considering they don't have the full support of the team. Amazo is another one of those villains that can be difficult to do right, in Justice League the character could access all acquired powers and techniques simultaneously which pretty much led to godhood by the end of his introduction. Here they keep with his comic's counterpart of only accessing one at a time.

This is the episode which marks a big change to Superboy and how he handles fights throughout the rest of the serie. Here's where he learns that his usual method of charging at the opponent and overwhelming them with his superior strength won't work anymore. What they do with the fight actually ties well into what Canary was trying to teach them about acting and getting the fight on your terms. You'll notice that Amazo spends most of the fight knocking opponents back with one of his powers and then waiting for the heroes to act again. Instead Superboy decides to channel his anger towards more productive means and the heroes figure out that Amazo's inability to be in more than one place at a time means they can take Professor Ivo, and his inability to access more than one power at a time means they can take advantage of the density shifting. Just one more example of fighting smarter rather than harder.

Some Final Thoughts: Casting Vanessa Marshall as Black Canary was inspired, I believe that any actress to play the role is required to have a sexy voice. The arrow that saves Wally is a nice bit of foreshadowing to the next episode as observant viewers will remember that Speedy doesn't use arrows with green fletches. I like the nod to the 60's Batman series, with Bruce having a bust of William Shakespeare which reveals his costume. The diner Clark and Bruce visit belong to Bibbo Bibbowski, an ally to Superman, though in the comics he runs a bar the Ace o' Clubs. The full list of Amazo's powers shown include Black Canary's Canary Cry and fighting skills, Captain Atom's energy blasts, Martian Manhunter's shape-shifting and density shifting, Flash's speed, the ability to fly, Red Tornado's wind manipulation and Superman's strength, durability and heat vision. We also get confirmation that Gotham is set in Connecticut, considering how inconsistent DC can be with its fictional geography this is a bit of a surprise.

Acting MVP goes to Peter MacNicol as Professor Ivo, the MONQIs and Amazo. He so pleasantly smug and condescending this episode and pulls off the quiet automated voice of Amazo quite well.

DC Profiles: Professor Ivo is an odd figure because his inventions are far more well known and intimidating than he is. Fun fact: the character model of Ivo in this series is meant to mimic his actor.

Favorite Lines:
Black Canary: Good block. But did anyone see what he did wrong?
Robin: Ooh! He hit on the teacher and got served?
Kid Flash: Dude!
Black Canary: He allowed me to dictate the terms of-
Superboy: Oh please. With my powers, the battle's always on my terms. I'm a living weapon, and this is a waste of my time.
Black Canary: Prove it.

Robin: Uh, clearly you're not feeling the aster. What's wrong?
Superboy: Canary. And what business does she have teaching combat skills to a guy with super strength?
Robin: Taking down stronger guys is part of the gig. Canary learned that the hard way. Same with Batman and well, me.

Superboy: You? You're Ivo? I'm whelmed.
Ivo: You're one to talk. Now since when does the big blue boy scout have a brat?
Superboy: He doesn't.
Ivo: Yeah, if you say so. Have you met my Mobile Optimal Neural Quotient Infiltrators?...Ah, and after all the trouble I went through finding an acronym for MONQI.

Ivo: Oh yawn. Normally, Amazo would study and mimic your abilities in battle, but what's the point? You're all such poor copies of the originals.
Superboy: So everyone keeps saying. It makes me ANGRY!
Ivo: Aah!

Robin: Help me disassemble him now!
Kid Flash: Dude, the guy has no head.

Remember, young or old, rich or poor, friend or foe. We're all in this together.

Jensen> Agreed. I think the policy should be a case by case basis, but I do think they have some yet to end shows that are still good for some viewing and some recently ended ones I'm still checking for the first time.

Besides Gravity Falls, I got into Sofia the First due to Netflix last year and made it through Elena of Avalor this year (with Season 3 being available at least through Charter On-Demand).

Need to finish Gravity Falls, but I took a break to do an Adventure Time marathon as I got into that show, but slipped on watching the rest of it from Season 5's end to the finale.*

Also like Amphibia (and Keith David's character on it).

*And yes I have HBO Max and aim to watch the service's exclusive AT episodes.

Which of course means that unlike with Young Justice's 3rd which I didn't get to see until picking the DVD set, I'll be joining you in the modern age when S4 hits.

But I will still pick it up on DVD:-).


MATTHEW AND PHOENICIAN - Thanks for the advice. I'm researching Cloud storage now.

On "DuckTales": the third season's finale could feel like a "logical conclusion to the series" enough that most of us would feel at peace about it and look forward to new animated series coming from Disney.

Todd Jensen

Fifth and yeah bummer, but with hope the Darkwing Duck reboot will be part of the continuity as DT was looking to set it up (some doubt it will be due to a different creative team and the shot looking like the old DWD).

That said, anyone ever see the animated shows Street Fighter, Savage Dragon, Mortal Kombat Defender of the Realm and Wing Commander Academy? Not looking to discuss those shows or anything, but regarding an addition I made to Michael Dorn's page: https://gargwiki.net/Michael_Dorn

Yeah, four different animated shows, each having their own copyright holder crossed over via Dorn's character*. Just curious if anyone recalled the installments in the article from back in the day whether they caught any or all of the episodes. Caught the Street Fighter episode as I watched it on a regular basis, but not so much the others aside from tuning in during WCA's repeat.

And yes this is the first and only time that Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat crossed over in any official fashion.

*Don't know for a fact, but I recall reading that the USA Network wanted a full on crossover for these shows, but had to abandon the idea as again each one were owned by different parties and had different production teams behind them (plus SF having a cast strictly from the Ocean Group in Canada). Plus it would mean that upon rerunning them separately that they couldn't stand on their own. Hence a new character who ran through each show (albeit his MK appearance was a cameo and silhouette).


Like with Gargoyles, Spectacular Spider-Man[I], and for awhile, [I]Young Justice 'canceled' might not be the most accurate word, but still a real bummer nonetheless . . .


Also fourth.

Also, yes Todd -- flash drives would be best non-cloud form of storage these days, but even they are subject to data rot, so redundancy is preferable if possible. At least most computers (desktops and laptops and some tablets) have USB ports by and large.

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

As someone who may be spending several hundred dollars on recovering the data on my hard drive I'd definitely recommend saving your important documents to the cloud or to flash drives.
I know that they make external CD drives that you can connect to your computer, might want to look into that.

Remember, young or old, rich or poor, friend or foe. We're all in this together.

I'd like some advice on computers. My current computer is showing signs enough of age (I got it in 2008) that I'll need to have it replaced soon. Now, I've many things (nearly all manuscripts) saved on its hard drive that I want to be able to transfer to the new computer. I'd originally been saving them to CD-type discs, but I've learned recently, when discussing this with a friend, that a lot of computers nowadays no longer have disc drives, and that the best way of transferring my documents to the new computer would be to save them on the Cloud. I'd like more advice and information on this, such as what would be the best way to go about this, please.
Todd Jensen

Thanks Todd, we'll explore the nature of Kaldur's leadership throughout the season. Though not that I think about it, Brooklyn's time as leader more parallels Robin's term than Kaldur's.
Remember, young or old, rich or poor, friend or foe. We're all in this together

Thanks for the latest review, Matthew. I remember bits of this episode, including Bane's involvement, and (your review reminded me of them), Robin forgetting that the rest of the Team don't have the familiarity with his methods that Batman does, and Batman's words to the Team at the end.

Your mention of Kaldur not being too keen on becoming the Team leader reminded me of Brooklyn's reluctance to take command in "Kingdom".

Todd Jensen

The leadership issues come to a head in today's episode, "Drop Zone." The team is given their first official assignment, a recon mission. Which actually makes sense, Batman spelled it out pretty clearly that their work was to be covert, it makes sense that their job was to enter, gather information and then get out of there. Minimalize risk and all that. At the same time we later learn that the League has no jurisdiction on Santa Prisca, so any trouble the Team got into could be problematic considering they don't have any laws backing them up.

This episode highlights some of the flaws of the Team, which is necessary if you want your characters to grow. It's revealed that Robin is the most experienced member of the Team; I like that the episode plays with audience's expectations, Robin being the most famous member in and out of universe. Heck the episode even frames it around him as a bit of a red herring. But as Aqualad spells out, he's far too used to being part of a two man team where communication is kept to a minimum. There's also the fact that aside from Superboy, he's the youngest member of the Team, this is notable for two reasons. One: is that Dick Grayson is usually depicted as being on the older scale of younger super heroes. And two: that despite his experience he's not exactly the most mature.

Something that's been subtly shown in the previous episodes and issues is this kind of unspoken rivalry he has with Kid Flash. For the most part it's not treated as a big deal but it comes pretty close to getting personal this episode; which also shows why Kid Flash also isn't leadership material. Despite Robin's jabs, KF may be the most scientifically minded member of the group, able to accurately identify the molecule chain of both Venom and Blockbuster at just a glance and while he doesn't have quite the detective instincts Rob has, he's still more open and communicative. At the same time, he's just as immature as Robin, just as stubborn and a little too impulsive.

This is why Aqualad ultimately is the best choice as leader, the mandatory military training he received in his youth ultimately gave him the maturity and social awareness that the others lack. When it comes to teams and leaders, audiences may want the coolest or the strongest at the forefront, but emotional maturity goes a long way especially with a team of teenagers. This has been hinted at previously with him making sure to speak to and communicate with each member of the team. In "Independence Day" he's the one trying to collaborate a plan while Robin and Kid Flash are going off and doing their own thing. The episode also shows another side of his character, that of reluctance to take up leadership. It's very possible that the fact that he grew up a loyal citizen and then was later apprenticed to the king, he found himself slipping into a supporting role and now he's in the spotlight. It makes sense that he'd be quick to promise the reigns to Robin once he was old enough.

Last episode I touched on escalation, here's where we get an example of it done right. For starters we need to bring up Bane, the Man Who Broke the Bat. Bane is generally regarded as one of Batman's most dangerous foes, without Venom he's a skilled and tactful warrior, with it he's the single most physically dangerous member of Batman's Rogues Gallery. But this show isn't limited to Gotham, there's a whole world out there and the little fish are often eaten by the big ones as shown by the Cult of Kobra. More than that it's made clear that the bad guys are getting smarter, as demonstrated by Mammoth and Kobra-Venom.

The fights involving Bane show that there's only so much that can be done with what worked previously. We see that he's able to stop Mammoth in his tracks and get a few hits in and even put Superboy in an arm lock. But he falls soon after because there's only so much one can do against that much superior strength. This also applies to our heroes as well, Superboy faces off against another foe that can match him blow for blow and Robin gets his butt handed to him by a better martial artist. The only way to win is to fight smarter rather than harder with Aqualad taking down Mammoth and Kobra being forced to retreat thanks to the super powered heroes.

But that's not even getting into Sportsmaster, our first proper recurring villain. I remember Greg said that he wanted the villains to have their own kinda, "Anti-Batman" and he pulls this off well in his introduction. Sportsmaster has been long used as a hokey, gimmick character, so instead of making his costume a mishmash of different sports equipment it was streamlined into something more tactical with a distinct grey hockey mask. Plus he shows that he doesn't need superpowers to be a threat, packing a laser gun with enough stopping power to keep Superboy on guard and even able to get the drop on M'Gann twice. I'm glad he wasn't a one-off villain, though he does set up another role of villains that report directly to the Light, something we'll see more in the future.

Some Final Thoughts: You know you don't often get an American cartoon willing to do long bits of dialogue in another language, I appreciate that the show was willing to do that. I also like that M'gann refers it as "en Español" considering how Martians are big on Earth tv, I'm sure she first came across the language through the "simulcast en Español." Fun fact, the molecule chain for steroids was used to represent the one for Venom. We also start the trend of the Team communicating telepathically, out of universe this is used as a cost saving measure for animation, allowing the characters to communicate without having to animate mouth movements, though in universe this technique gets a lot of mileage out of it. I haven't talked much about sound and music but I love how the fight at the factory is accompanied with a serious, no-nonsense tune. Also have to bring up scenery because what we see of Santa Prisca is impressive, a foreboding tropical paradise. Some of the jungle seen here became my mental image for parts of the Ghost Keys in Rain.

Acting MVP goes to Danny Trejo as Bane, an actor who I think everyone knew could do great work with the role. It's kinda funny that he started as a cameo in Spectacular Spider-Man and managed to get a bigger role here, but Greg does like to bring back actors that can give great performances. Also have to give credit to Nolan North, his Spanish while playing a Kobra henchman was pretty spot on.

DC Profiles: Sportsmaster is a character that will be given a fair amount of attention so I'll focus on some of the others. For starters there's the brother sister team of Mammoth and Shimmer, they've been used as henchmen in several different groups and organizations but most famously as part of the Fearsome Five (no relation to the supervillain team from Darkwing Duck). We'll see the leader of that group soon enough. Interestingly, Mammoth and Bane have fought in the comics where Bane easily won.
Then there's the religious extremists Kobra, who often fought against the Outsiders. Despite the fact that they're in no way close to the villains from G.I. Joe they still had to spell the name differently to avoid confusion. They're uncomplicated; they want to take over the world, usher in a new age and set their leader up as a God among men.

Favorite Lines:
Kid Flash: Hey Supey! Not too late to put on the new stealth tech.
Superboy: No capes. No tights. No offense.

Kid Flash: So much for the stealthy.

Robin: What is wrong with you guys?! Remember covert? Why didn't you follow my lead, vanish into the jungle?
Kid Flash: That's what you were doing? Way to fill us in. We're not mind readers you know. Er, I'm not anyway.
Miss Martian: You told me I could only read the bad guys' minds.

Kid Flash: So now El Luchador's our leader.

Robin: I know you hate getting your hands dirty.
Kobra Leader: True. But sometimes even a god must stoop to conquer.

Batman: A simple recon mission, observe and report. You'll each receive a written evaluation detailing your many mistakes. Until then...good job. No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy. How you adjust to the unforeseen is what determines success. And how you choose who leads determines character.

L1: Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. But three times is enemy action and enemies of the Light must not stand.

Remember, young or old, rich or poor, friend or foe. We're all in this together.

Coming in for the bronze again. Third.

I've been watching The Dragon Prince a lot lately, and I think any Gargoyles fan will probably like it too.

Paul - [nampahcfluap at yahoo dot com]


Today is St. Andrew's Day, the patron saint of Scotland - certainly relevant for "Gargoyles". To match the day, I've decided to share some information about the family tree of another leading Disney character who's proven popular with "Gargoyles" fans, especially thanks to the "DuckTales" revival.

When Don Rosa wrote "The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck" for Disney's comics, he'd originally planned to start with a history of the McDuck clan all the way up to Scrooge. His superiors argued against this, on the grounds that the story needed to focus on Scrooge, but Rosa still shared the draft he'd written of it in the "Don Rosa Library", a hardbound collection of his Donald Duck and Scrooge McDuck stories for Disney. Here's some of the big events from it.

1. In the early fifth century, in the final days of Roman Britain, a member of the MacDuich clan (the original, Gaelic spelling of "McDuck"; they switched to "McDuck" following the Norman Conquest) led the Picts and Scots in their attack on Hadrian's Wall that drove the Romans from it. (Rosa added in the next panel that it was only fair; three hundred years later, when the Romans were building the Wall, another MacDuich sold them the stones they'd need for construction materials.)

2. A MacDuich almost became the first King of Scotland in the mid-ninth century. But when he began speaking of "Scotland's birth, forthwith, to include the girth of all earth north of the Firth of Forth", the mormaers (what they called Scottish nobility at the time) misinterpreted his speech as meaning that he had a potentially embarrassing lisp, and chose Kenneth Mac Alpin instead. [Kenneth was the actual first King of Scotland; he made a cameo in the Stone of Destiny story in "Clan-Building".)

3. In 1018, King Malcolm II (better-known to "Gargoyles" viewers as Maol Chalvim, King Kenneth's son) defeated his neighbors the Angles with help from the espionage skills of Sir Slye MacDuich - he recognized that "it's a MacDuich who'd know all the Angles".

4. Another MacDuich, Sir Quackly MacDuich, gave Macbeth shelter at Castle MacDuich from his enemies in 1057; Macbeth, in return, gave him a chest filled with treasure, which Sir Quackly eagerly hid away. He got too eager, though, and when he concealed it behind a castle wall, accidentally walled himself in with it - with the result that Macbeth was quickly captured by the "McDuck Universe" counterparts of Canmore's men. [Scrooge McDuck recovered that treasure in the Carl Barks story "The Old Castle's Secret".]

5. Another MacDuich, Sir Murdoch MacDuich, was the patent-holder on longbows; when the Normans invaded England in 1066, just nine years after Macbeth's fall, Harold Godwinson bought plenty of longbows from Sir Murdoch. The English still lost at the Battle of Hastings, however, because they didn't read the sales contract all the way through - in particular, they missed the part stating "Arrows cost extra".

6. In the late twelfth century, the McDucks (as they now called themselves) raised 10,000 marks (a unit of money in medieval times; a mark was equivalent to a hundred and sixty pennies) to buy Scotland's independence back from Richard the Lion-hearted, who was eager to receive the money to finance the Third Crusade; it was the "first leveraged buy-out" in history. [While the McDucks' role in this event was Rosa's invention, it's based on actual history. Richard's father, Henry II, had captured the King of Scotland and made the price of his freedom Scotland becoming a vassal kingdom to England. Richard the Lion-hearted really did sell Scotland's independence back in return for the money, as part of his money-raising plans for the Crusade; he's reported to have said that he'd have sold London if he could have found anyone wealthy enough to buy it.]

7. The price cleaned the McDucks out, however, and their fortunes began to decline. One of the family, Sir Donald McDuck, also known as Black Donald because of his temper tantrums, invented golf in 1440. Unfortunately, his aforesaid temper tantrums wound up giving golf such a bad name that King James II of Scotland banned it in 1457. [He really did ban golf - though, in actual history, because he feared it would distract his subjects from archery practice. The "DuckTales 2017" episode featuring the kelpies mentioned this tidbit from Rosa, by the way.]

8. THe McDucks' fortunes fell even further in 1495 when a rival family, the Whiskervilles, scared them away from Castle McDuck with a fake "monstrous hound" (the inspiration for that part can be easily guessed). They fled to England; one of Rosa's rough-drawn panels showed a map of that flight, depicting how, as the McDucks approached the river separating Scotland from England, they saw that it had a toll bridge - and immediately took a detour through the Grampian mountains nearby, which were steep and treacherous, but had no toll bridges.

9. In England, Malcolm McDuck sailed with Sir Francis Drake in Elizabethan times; when Drake claimed a part of the western coast of North America for Elizabeth I, he put Sir Malcolm in charge of the settlement he left there, called Fort Drakeborough; the name would later be whittled down to "Duckburg". (Sir Malcolm's chief concern was how Drake would mail him his paychecks.)

10. After the Act of Union in 1707, the McDucks decided to return to Scotland and see if they could rebuild their fortunes there. (The panel illustrating that event showed another map; the McDucks discovered that that toll bridge was still there, and so took another detour to reach Scotland, this time, out to sea.)

11. Returning to Scotland, they discovered that the Duke of Montrose had seized Castle McDuck for himself in their absence. The head of the family, Locksley, teamed up with Rob Roy to fight Montrose and other such landlords - but dissolved the partnership after discovering that Rob Roy expected him to give the money they'd taken from those landlords to the poor. As Locksley put it in the panel depicting this event, "Give to the who? You're balmy!" [Locksley's name is an allusion to Rob Roy being nicknamed "the Scottish Robin Hood"; the name Locksley has been associated with Robin Hood as far back as Sir Walter Scott's "Ivanhoe", at least.]

12. As the McDuck fortunes continued to decline, Potcrack McDuck invented steam-powered bagpipes in 1767. It didn't take off, but did inspire his neighbor, James Watt, to perfect the steam engine.

In the last few panels, Rosa brought the story up to the final generation of McDucks, Scrooge and his sisters Matilda (who appeared not only in Rosa's work, particularly "The Old Castle's Other Secret", but also in last week's "DuckTales" episode) and Hortense (Donald and Della's mother, and Huey, Louie, and Dewey's grandmother).

Todd Jensen

Oh am I first?