The Draw

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Gargoyles: Dark Ages #2 by Clayton Crain

"The Draw" is the second issue of the Gargoyles: Dark Ages comic by Dynamite Entertainment. It was released on August 9th, 2023. [1]

Solicitation

THE ORIGIN OF THE GARGOYLES CONTINUES! In this second installment of the “Dark Ages” saga, Kenneth and Mentor’s human and Gargoyle alliance battle King Culen’s army (with some p]magic]]al help from the ARCHMAGE). Mentor orders Goliath's generation to stay back, as they aren’t yet seasoned warriors, but Angel and Hyppolyta disobey Mentor’s order and join the fighting — at great cost. Written by Gargoyles creator GREG WEISMAN and illustrated by star artist DREW MOSS, this 40-page issue also features an illustrated text story by Weisman! ALL COVERS CARDSTOCK

The Story

Opening Quote

We let no one go.

Chapter Story

Under a full moon, the battle continues. From the cliffs above, a gargoyle from the generation forbidden from participating in the fight worries for his Angel, who has joined her rookery sister in disobeying their clan leader's orders. He worries that their leader might have had good reason.

The leader of the Wyvern Clan and his second-in-command swoop in from the skies, knocking soldiers off their feet. Soldiers from Lieutenant Robert's cavalry finally arrive on the battlefield. Mid-conflict, Prince Kenneth calls out asking where his brother, Prince Malcolm, is. The younger brother meanwhile is getting back on his feet after getting knocked off his horse from one of King Culen's men.

As the Rhydderch's mate takes a soldier into the air, one of King Culen's retainers, Cawdor, grouses that no one said the opposition had gargoyles in their ranks. King Culen admits it is a setback, but knows his army has its own surprises. He orders another retainer, Menteth to summon his sorcerer, Lord Valois. Pointing the Spear of Fate at the sea, Valois casts his spell:

Hasta Fatum, vocem meam audi . . . voca mare ut hostes Culen Regis Feriant!

Three giant constructs of hands are formed out of the sea water, which attack and capture a female gargoyle, a male gargoyle, and a gargoyle beast. Prince Malcolm is startled from the setback. From a distance, the Archmage recognizes Lord Valois. Wielding the Grimorum Arcanorum, he directs a bolt of lightning at the sorcerer, which not only subdues Valois, but frees the gargoyles from their watery prisons and breaks the spear head off the handle. Recovering from the spell, Valois recognizes the Archmage as well.

From the rookery generation asked to stay back, one gargoyle observes that Prince Kenneth's men and the Wyvern Clan have the upper hand in the conflict. One of his brothers comments that he cannot see their two rookery sisters in the fight and wonders how they are doing.

Down below, the two sisters are enjoying themselves, throwing soldiers about and crashing human heads into one another. As they fight, Angel wonders why the others from their generation haven't joined them yet, and her rookery sister proclaims them all to be sheep, even the gargoyle Angel would like to be her mate. Her rookery sister reminds Angel to focus, not noticing the soldier preparing to strike behind her. Taking that soldier by surprise and lifting him up, their rookery mother points out the advice is something her daughter "should take more to heart". But the thane Cawdor has taken their rookery mother by surprise, relishing the irony. He stabs her from behind. She falls to her knees as the her mate rushes to her side. She is dead.

In his grief, the clan's Rhydderch doesn't see Cawdor approaching once more. Angel calls out to her rookery father, who stops the thane mid-strike and dispatches with him in short order. Fueled by grief and rage, he and the rest of the clan on the battlefield advance. Culen's men are no match for the Wyvern Clan's attack.

Menteth reports to King Culen that Cawdor and Angus are dead and that Lord Valois has vanished, while the rest of the army is at the mercy of the gargoyles (and none is given). As for Prince Kenneth and his men, they now outnumber King Culen's army two-to-one, with more on the way. Processing what he has heard, King Culen orders the sound of retreat, which Menteth seems unlikely to happen given that Culen's men are outnumbered.

Meanwhile, the clan's second-in-command tells Angel that she is straying too far from the rest of the clan. Angel argues how her rookery sister is even further away, but the point is dismissed. Angel continues to belabor the matter, distracted once more on the battlefield. This time it is King Culen who lands the blow on her head, knocking her out. King Culen orders the gargoyles to hault, or risk killing Angel. The clan's leader has little patience for the ploy, telling the human king that he has already lost his mate. As the two leaders continue their standoff, Angel's love sees the situation and loses control. Their clan's Rhydderch holds him back, and demands to know King Culen's terms. The monarch responds that he'll be taking Angel alive to ensure a safe retreat for he and his men.

Alongside Princes Kenneth and Malcolm, Robert, the Archmage, and the Wyvern Clan's Second-in-Command are now on the scene. Prince Kenneth insists to the gargoyle leader that they can't allow King Culen to escape, not when the odds are in their favor. The clan's Rhydderch won't budge, refusing any harm to come to his rookery child. The Archmage declares the gargoyle leader a fool, asking what is one gargoyle's life for the sake of an entire kingdom. The gargoyle clan leader asks everyone to trust him, reminding them all of the alliance they had made. He quietly points to his brow as he explains this, and the gesture is echoed by his second-in-command.

Prince Kenneth isn't prepared to risk his win on the battlefield for an alliance with the gargoyles, but Prince Malcolm reminds him that he swore an oath to the gargoyle and his brother swore one to him. "Foreswearing us both must not be your first act as Sovereign," he explains. Prince Kenneth sighs and agrees to allow King Culen and his men safe passage. Despite the successful ploy, Culen can't help but gloat, pointing out that "the sons of Maol Chalvim were always reasonable men . . . it's why they always fail."

The clan's Rhydderch tells King Culen to keep Angel safe, or else nothing would keep the human safe from the gargoyle and his clan. Culen is unfazed as he rides out with a still-unconscious Angel on horseback, explaining she is safe so long as he is.

Both Prince Kenneth and Angel's love are in disbelief, each expressing how they could have let the human and the gargoyle go. But the clan's Rhydderch is adamant. He tells them all: "We let no one go." Asking for trust once more, he swears to them all that he will end the conflict the following night.

The Tale of the Three Brothers

According to the scribe, on the second night the players performed an "Italian story of betrayal". Afterwards, the storyteller continued her tale from the night before:

In 962, King Indulf’s rule has grown unpopular and Queen Katharine hatches a plan to escape Edinburgh Castle with her eight year-old son Malcolm. Sneaking the details of the plan out of the castle (through her son’s peasant friend Robbie), Duff and Kenneth agree to it.

The storyteller's audience groans once more when she shares that the story will continue the following night.

Review

The Wyvern Clan's early adventures continue in this issue, and very effectively.

The big moment is the death of Mentor's mate, "Verity". The death in itself was not surprising - Greg Weisman had mentioned long before that she died in 971, though until this issue came out, it was canon-in-training - but it happening so early in the story *was* a surprise. It was also well-handled, with the looks of utter horror from Hyppolyta, Angel, and Mentor, and an entire page being dedicated to a single panel of a grieving Mentor clasping his dead mate in his arms. (Followed by the quick death at Mentor's hands of the thane who had slain her.)

This is the central moment, but there are other noteworthy features. Culen is revealed to have his own sorcerer, a certain Lord Valois, who delivers a magical attack on the gargoyles (in the form of watery hands rising from the sea to grab them) before the Archmage puts him to rout. It is indicated that Valois and the Archmage have a history; will we learn more in the following issues? (Valois is also portrayed as using a spear for his magical device, a counterpart to the Grimorum Arcanorum for the Archmage - and calling it "hasta fatum", Latin for "Spear of Destiny"....)

To top it off, Angel's recklessness gets her captured by Culen, who uses her as a hostage to make his escape. (Goliath is so horrified that he forgets his orders to stay out of the fighting, which he has hitherto obeyed, and tries to come to her rescue; Mentor has to literally hold him back.) The debate among Kenneth and his allies and followers over what to do is well-handled, particularly when Prince Malcolm points out to his older brother that breaking an oath to his allies would be a bad way to begin his reign. Culen escapes with his prisoner, but it's clear from the final panel that Mentor intends to remedy that....

A fine continuation to the first issue.

First Appearances

Characters

Object

Tidbits

Culen uses the term Rhydderch for a gargoyle leader, when speaking to Mentor.

Cover Gallery

Dynamite Gargoyles Dark Ages 2 Gallery1.jpg
Dynamite Gargoyles Dark Ages 2 Gallery2.jpg


Links

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