As a long-time fan of the “Gargoyles” TV series, I want to like the comics. I really do. So much so, I even bought this spin-off series featuring some reforming Gargoyles villains because I want to get my hands on everything that’s even remotely part of the Gargoyles canon. I’m not the kind of person who goes to Gargoyles conventions, but I liked it enough to track down the comics. In other words, I’m exactly the kind of person this comic is aimed at — a casual “Gargoyles” fan who wants more than the DVDs can offer.
This is where we hit a snag. I’m frequently coming to the Gargoyles comics and finding them almost unreadably bad. I’m torn between my wish for more Gargoyles, and objectively evaluating the quality of the comic. Assuming, of course, I can track them down at all. The first issue of this six-issue miniseries came out in November. I’ve got no idea what caused the delays, but I’ve got to be honest — as a reader, I don’t care. “The Ultimates” it ain’t. Whatever the reason for such a long gap between issues, it’s unacceptable for a series that’s already this low-key.
The story features Yama, a Gargoyle exiled from the Japanese clan, and describes how he came to be recruited by the “Redemption Squad.” The scene where Yama discovers his fate — to be exiled until his honour is restored, with the burden placed on himself to decide when this is — is a genuinely good moment on a par with the quality of the rest of the series. Unfortunately, Weisman all-too-quickly falls back into the same traps he’s been stumbling into in the parent series, referencing obscure “Gargoyles” continuity lost to most of us.
Now, excuse me for being patronizing, but when you’re revealing a big villain at the end of the piece with a personal connection to one of the main cast, it’s customary to remind readers of that connection at some point prior to it, just to ensure that they understand the weight of what’s going on. It’s nuts-and-bolts storytelling that you’d think Weisman would be aware of. Seeing Fang accosted by the scientist who spliced his DNA into his current, half-animal form doesn’t carry any gravity at all when readers can barely remember it happening in the first place. Admittedly, this might have been mentioned in Issue #1 — in which case, you’ll have to excuse me for not remembering what happened in a comic from almost six months ago.
The book is published in black and white, ostensibly to lower production costs and speed up production times. To be honest, I’m fairly concerned at the idea of paying $3.50 for a black and white book. There’s nothing technically wrong with the artwork, although it does have that almost unavoidable licensed-comic look of slightly distorted character likenesses. There are a smattering of good moments, but ultimately it’s not enough to redeem its many problems. This is one for hardcore fans only, but it’s got a long way to go before it reaches the wider appeal it needs. I’m not sure it has time in the remaining four issues to reach the level it needs to.