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Gargoyles #1

Posted: Saturday, June 24, 2006
By: Ray Tate



Writer: Greg Weisman
Artists: Dave Hedgecock(pencil art), Will Terrell(color art)
Publisher: Slave Labor

Gargoyles was simply put the second best cartoon of its period. The first of course was one of its sources of inspiration Batman: The Animated Series. The story posits that a species known as Gargoyles bartered their diurnal safety by protecting a Scottish castle. In the daytime, the Gargoyles petrify in hibernation and better resemble their stony grotesque namesakes. For their altruism, the Gargoyles find themselves betrayed and cursed. Xanatos, the anti-Branson, frees the Gargoyles in modern times by setting the castle atop his skyscraper and thereby taking advantage of a loophole in the spell. The Gargoyles however discover the corruption in Xanatos' heart and ally themselves with NYPD Detective Elisa Maza. In the last season of Gargoyles, Goliath and his clan find themselves once again relying on Xanatos, his demeanor somewhat softened by a new love and former Gargoyle enemy Fox.

This may sound like heady continuity to comprehend, but Weisman, Hedgecock and Terrell make it easier to follow in a mere two pages of artistic recap and a few odd snatches of dialogue. The continuing story takes flight from page one. It reintroduces the enemy John Castaway from the series finale, and it deepens the relationship between Goliath and Elisa. They are going out on an obvious date, even if neither would call it such.

Castaway creates his own Ku Klux Klan known as the Quarrymen. The villain foments the fear of the unknown to turn a frightened populace, now knowing the Gargoyles to be real due to the filming of the conflagratory finale at their former roost, into a cowardly coordinated strikeforce. As the name implies their strategy is simple. Attack the Gargoyles while they slumber and as if they were statues deface them with mallets.

Gargoyles has never shied away from touchy and politically incorrect subjects. In an early episode of the show, one of the clan Broadway learned the dangers of firearms when he accidentally shoots Elisa with her own gun. This instills in him a hatred of gunmen and their weapons of choice. This issue bears a thinly disguised message against racism. Weisman furthermore defines the many faces within racist ranks. Castaway does not truly believe that the Gargoyles represent a threat. Rather he simply enjoys the power from leading a cult. One member of the Quarrymen seems to have no future, but when he gets one, he turns away only to learn that there is no turning back. Others fear the unknown, and Castaway distills that fear into hate.

This issue speaks out beautifully thanks to artists Hedgecock and Terell. The Gargoyles look powerful and grand. Elisa looks beautiful and in later scenes acts quite tough. The Quarrymen bear an intriguing, unnerving look. I'm not absolutely sure that their presence could have been conceivable on all-ages cartoon, however dramatic. The art team stage action easily, and they capture the emotions of the characters well. With Greg Weisman, creator of Gargoyles, on board, this comic book could not sound like anything but one of the top shows from the series.



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