Monday, July 03, 2006

The Spell Is Broken

Well, seeing as how there are no reviews of Gargoyles #1 that I could find (and since I finally have it) I thought I might give a review. Within the first few pages fans of the series will be taken back, to the point of hearing each characters distinctive voices in their head. And why not? The creator and writer for the majority of the episodes is at the helm here. I think it says something when a writer can make each character unique beyond surface design, and to do so within a comic also must be praised.

I will say that I don't believe this first issue is as perfect for new readers. There are some elements that are merely touched upon. Some moments that are purely for the fans. Now that is not to say that a quick search on Wikipedia could not set you straight. Or that even this review could not do the same. So it was a worthy effort in that respect.

One change I did notice in the writing which gave a subtly more adult tone to the book (if one needs such things as an indicator) was the near inclusion of the words "Monster loving wh-" directed at a human female friend of the Gargoyle leader. It is small potatoes in today's comics, however, this was certainly a level that I cannot recall the Disney cartoon having.

Another bit of background that should have been included for new readers was the pathetic tactics of the villians at hand. Gargoyles have one very prominent weakness, and that is that they can be turned to stone. The villians which were featured in this issue only attack gargoyles during the day, basically they go out with a hood and a sledge hammer and get to work smashing statues. Now that is alot of statues when one considers that there are only 8 or 9 living Gargoyles left in this section of the US (and maybe in the US entirely). But all the same it shows a cowardice that would be very much relatable to a new readers. The bully which is fearful of something and would only seek to destroy it when no harm can come to them. That could all still be explored next issue or in future issues.

I would also not mind an issue #0 a bit of a meatier summary of what has happened to the Gargoyles before this issue. I suppose the page summary given might intice new readers to seek out the DVDs available, but I don't think so. Now, onto the art. Where this seems to fail with me, is that it feels quite back and forth at times. Sometimes adopting an animated simpler style, but more often than not, opting to give a more 3-D realistic look. Which came across to me as awkward in most panels. It is likely a bit of familarity lost... as I just kept thinking, this is too much, it doesn't really look like so and so anymore. But on the whole it did quite well, and I think conveyed each of the previous characters well enough. Especially in those introductory shots ... the first time I would see certain characters I would think, Wow, that looks spot on. And then in the panels that followed it would not be the case. The coloring is also excellent, and seems to fluxuate more succesfully between the changes of style.

One thing that sticks out about Gargoyles for me, and in this comic too. Is that conflict is always there. The leader (Goliath) has trouble with one of his charges, in particular. And in a new world with new rules, Goliath is often risking more, while demanding isolation from others.

I think the romance between Goliath and his human friend will increase. There is a strong vulnerability there. Not alot can hurt him, but knowing that she risks her life even being aware of his existence. For such a behemoth of a creature, I have always found that he conveyed weakness and emotion quite well.

All in all, you could do a lot, lot worse then Gargoyles. And I know I have a bias, but this is probably one of the strongest indy issues I have purchased. As the writer says on the final text pages "a hard hitting drama with influnces ranging from Gummi Bears to Hill Street Blues to the complete works of William Shakespeare. There is continuity, a large ensemble cast of characters (heroes yest but three dimensional villains and everything in between). There is comedy. There is tragedy. There is romance and heartbreak. And of course, lots and lost of action."

Ultimately I could see this comic surpassing what has come before. And becoming a comic for kids and adults. It's off to a fine start.

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