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Gargoyles #1

Gargoyles #1"Gargoyles #1"

Publisher Slave Labor Graphics/Disney
Written by Greg Weisman
Art by David Hedgecock

Back in the 90s, Disney gave Greg Weisman free rein to bring his vision of a cartoon series to the small screen. The result was Gargoyles - an epic story about a clan of Gargoyles who are cursed to remain in their stone forms for a thousand years, only to awaken in present-day New York and discover they may be the last of their kind left alive. Steeped in Arthurian legend and brimming with Shakespearian myth, it remains one of my favourite cartoons of all time, though more impressively, spawned a fandom that still pines for its return a decade later.

And, that decade later, here we are. Gargoyles #1, written by series creator Greg Weisman, and following directly on from the final episode of Gargoyles: Season 2. So directly, in fact, that it's a retelling of an existing Gargoyles episode. You see, back in the day, a third series of Gargoyles was produced. Weisman wrote only the first episode before leaving, unimpressed with the restrictions he now faced compared to the previous deal. Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles, as it was known, was completed by others and proved a disappointing revisitation that lasted only 13 episodes before being canned, compared to over 50 episodes of the previous series.

Accurately recalling the perpetual night of the TV series, the art, while hardly the selling point, is appropriately done.
Hudson, Goliath and Brooklyn.

Weisman has chosen, as is his right, to discard the bulk of season 3 and begin telling the follow up he originally wanted. Unfortunately for us Gargoyles fans, that includes the episode we already saw, which he wrote and considered canon. This comic is an adaptation of the first act of Season 3, episode 1. For a bi-monthly comic, we're now looking at something of a glacial pace to get to the new material which Weisman promises in Issue #3.

It's a good comic, there's no denying. The writing is everything we've come to expect from Weisman, the artwork adequately recalls the characters and style of the TV series, all that's missing is the voice acting (which, in the series, was exceptional) - but there's no denying that I'm a little disappointed. I wanted NEW material! This is a retread, and it's promising further retread. If the series was monthly I'd be less upset, but the fact I have to wait another 4 months is...upsetting.

Artistically, the book does stay quite close to the TV series. However, there's a certain amount of distortion and inconsistency that lends things a slightly amateurish feel. I get the feeling Hedgecock is being forced outside of his usual style in an attempt to adhere to the existing look, and it's coming over a little strained as a result. He has a good handle on the action sequences and everyone's recognisable, I'm just concerned that it feels as it he's working at odds with the material at times.

If you can't guess, I want to like this, I really do. I want to sing the praises of it so that Gargoyles enjoys a long and successful revival in comic form. Fan of the medium that I am, I can imagine no better way for the franchise to return, and this comic is already much better and infinitely more credible than most licensed comics, not least because of the direct involvement of Weisman. It's let me down by starting off with a retelling rather than a continuation.

The excuse given is that it's a re-introduction to the characters, but that approach isn't fooling anyone. Much like the original cartoon version of this story, one of the main characters is a bit-player from a season 2 episode, and the references to his past are too prominent to remain a sly nod to the fans, instead striding boldly into the realm of Continuity That Confuses. 10 years ago, with Season 2 fresh in the mind, it might be believable, but these days, it's a huge misstep. Arguably, anyone still a fan of Gargoyles is going to get this reference, but for people refreshing themselves or the new readers this retelling is supposedly aimed at, it's way, way beyond reasonable to expect it to make sense.

It's a solid first issue, let down by a little by what is really just sloppy self-editing, the main disappointment being more based on my own misheld expectations. I'm confident it's going to get much better and be very rewarding in the long term, and despite my misgivings with the opener it's still going to be one of the first things I look for when the next issue's due. If you were a fan of the TV series, this is the closest you'll get to seeing it come back, and in that respect it's performing excellently. And, the substantial gap between issues has one benefit - plenty of time to watch the DVD sets (Season 1 and Season 2.1 available) - Don't wait, they need all the sales they can get. B+

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By Somebody
July 08, 2006 @ 4:44 am

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Apparently 99% of them look like Bob Todd.

By AggieG
July 14, 2006 @ 1:21 pm

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They've been cooking on Blue Peter, now they're sampling the dishes : "I don't normally like tomatoes, John, but this is delicious!"

By Seb
July 14, 2006 @ 2:16 pm

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Check out the webcomic if you want to see theem back in stories. Good art

By Miko
September 01, 2008 @ 9:55 pm

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