The Flashback of Notre Dame

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Behemoth and his gargoyles

"The Flashback of Notre Dame" was an 11-page Gargoyles parody story that appeared in JLA Showcase 80-Page Giant #1, published in February 2000 by DC Comics. Set during the days of Justice League Europe (whose self-titled series had been cancelled seven years previously), "The Flashback of Notre Dame" was written by Greg Weisman and prominently featured the superhero Captain Atom. Greg Weisman had been, with Cary Bates, a writer on Captain Atom's solo series from 1987 until 1991. [1][2][3]

Other DC Comics characters featured include Bette Sans Souci (aka Plastique), Metamorpho, Flash, Kilowog, Blue Jay and (briefly) Catherine Cobert. A pencil holder shaped like Batman's head can be seen on Metamorpho's desk.

The editor was Dan Raspler, who was uncredited in the story, but who added an editorial comment on the story's fifth page which he signed "Danny Boy".

Contents

Summary

Captain Atom (referring to himself as "Cameron Scott") has been assigned to supervise reconstruction of the JLE's Paris Embassy. Instead, he takes his fiancée, Bette Sans Souci, on a romantic tour of the city, seeing landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, Cleopatra's Needle (whose fellow needle is in Central Park) and the Arc de Triomphe. On the roof of Notre Dame Cathedral, Cap and Bette kiss, thereby breaking an ancient curse and reawakening the sleeping stone gargoyles, which are revealed to be living creatures.

Not understanding the French that the gargoyles speak, and believing that they are monsters, Captain Atom attacks their leader, Behemoth, and they all fly away. When Bette reveals that Behemoth had only wanted to be friends, Cap and the rest of the JLE manage to round them up again and straighten things out. Behemoth introduces himself and the other gargoyles, and the JLE help send them home to the mystic island of Brigadoon.

References to Gargoyles

"The Flashback of Notre Dame" is filled with references to Gargoyles. The gargoyles creatures that feature in the story resemble the gargoyles from the TV series, although they appear more batlike. When first introduced, they erupt from their stone skin much as the Manhattan Clan do at sundown. It is not clear whether the DC gargoyles turn to stone every day, as the Disney gargoyles do, or whether their being stone statues was merely a by-product of the curse.

The gargoyle clan

On the penultimate page of the story, the gargoyle leader Behemoth introduces the others of his kind. The characters have names based on Paris (rather than Manhattan), and each is a parody of a specific character from Gargoyles. To a greater or lesser degree, all of those pictured resemble their template characters.

  • Behemoth, the clan leader, is based on Goliath. They are both named after Biblical villains.
  • Diabolique, Behemoth's ex-wife, is based on Demona. 'Diabolique' is the French word for 'demonic'.
  • Angelique, Behemoth's daughter, is based on Angela. 'Angelique' is the French word for 'angelic', and resembles the name Angelica. It also resembles the French name Angélique.
  • Montparnasse, Angelique's boyfriend, is based on Broadway. Montparnasse is a region of Paris that was the heart of artistic life in Paris at the dawn of the 20th century, and the site of many music-hall theatres.
  • Montmarte, Behemoth's lieutenant, is based on Brooklyn. Montmartre (with an additional 'r') is another region of Paris.
  • Champs Élysées, Montmarte's brother, is based on Lexington. The Champs-Élysées is the broadest and most prestigious avenue in Paris.
  • Seine, Behemoth's mentor, is based on Hudson. The Seine is the river that runs through Paris.
  • Left Bank, the clan's dog, is based on Bronx. The Left Bank is the southern half of Paris, on the left side of the river Seine.
  • Thomeheb, Behemoth's evil twin, is based on Thailog. Thomeheb is a phonetic reversal of Behemoth.
  • Behemoth's rookery siblings, Cyrano, Christian and Roxanne, are based on Othello, Iago and Desdemona. They are named after three characters from the play Cyrano de Bergerac, by Edmond Rostand, who are caught in a love triangle.

Behemoth also mentions the clan's "Japanese and Guatemalan exchange gargoyles", a reference to the Ishimura and Mayan Clans.

Other references

When Behemoth and the other gargoyles first wake up from their stone sleep, Behemoth cries (in French), "Finally, the spell is broken -- and we live again!" This is a reference to Keith David's narration over the opening credits of Gargoyles Season 2.

Behemoth claims to have been cursed by an Archmagus, a reference both to the Archmage and the Magus of Gargoyles.

Behemoth claims that the curse that trapped his clan as stone statues could have been broken if the cathedral had risen above the clouds, a reference to the Magus' spell of stone sleep that was cast in "Awakening: Part Two".

Behemoth uses the phrase "What sorcery is this?" which was Goliath's reaction to seeing the results of the Magus' spell.

Metamorpho refers to two captured gargoyles as angels, to which one of them responds "Stop calling us angels!!" This is a reference to Angela's outburst from "Turf": "Don't call me Angie!"

An unnamed gargoyle claims to hate pigeons while being chased by the Blue Jay. In the early comedy development, Georgette/Dakota (who later became Demona) was phobic of pigeons. [4][5] In the Series Bible, Bronx is described as "uncontrollable around pigeons". They drive him nuts.

The gargoyles are eventually returned to the "mystic island of Brigadoon", a reference to Avalon. Brigadoon was briefly considered for use in the actual series in Avalon's place, although when it became clear that Brigadoon had been created for the Lerner and Loewe musical (also called Brigadoon), this idea was dropped and Avalon was used instead. [6][7]

Trivia

The original title of this story was "A Case of Self Indulgence" and, as a visual pun, artist Christopher Jones placed the title on the side of a crate that Kilowog is seen carrying in the opening frame. When Dan Raspler, the editor, changed the title to its current form, the joke became lost, although Greg Weisman has said that the new title is much more clever. [8][9]

The story was intended to be set in the year 1991, although the two references to this were removed by the editor. [10] Nevertheless, the date is identified as February 28th, and Behemoth also mentions that it is "the last full moon in February". There was indeed a full moon on February 28, 1991. [11][12]

Pat Broderick, the pencil artist who had worked with Greg Weisman and Cary Bates on the original Captain Atom title, was originally supposed to work on "Flashback" as a sort of reunion. However, in the end, Christopher Jones worked on the story instead (Jones would later work with Weisman on both the Gargoyles: Bad Guys and Young Justice comics). [13]

In the first draft of the story, it opened with the funeral-at-sea of Heinrich Megala, a scientist attached to Project Atom who had appeared in the original run of the Captain Atom title. Dan Raspler, the editor, felt that this scene was too serious and too far removed from the tone of the rest of the story, and Greg Weisman agreed to change it. [14]

An early draft of the story had not included the Flash as a character, and Greg Weisman's editor asked him to do a rewrite so that the JLE's membership did not appear to be so feeble. [15]

Greg Weisman claims that his favorite word in the entire story is "Thomeheb". [16]

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