The Reach

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Gargoyles: Dark Ages #1 by Clayton Crain

"The Reach" is the first issue of the Gargoyles: Dark Ages comic by Dynamite Entertainment, which was released on July 12th, 2023. [1]

Solicitation

In this brand new miniseries, Gargoyles creator GREG WEISMAN and artist DREW MOSS return to the long-lost era when humans and Gargoyles lived in harmony. But in a world ruled by superstition and the sword, monsters come in all shapes and sizes. Forces of evil from both outside and within are threatening to destroy this precarious peace- with consequences that will reverberate down through the centuries and into the present day!

Featuring high-quality cardstock on every cover, this limited series debuts with a special 24-page main story - and every 40-page issue will include a new illustrated text story by Greg Weisman!

The Story

Opening Quote

Chapter Story

The Tale of the Three Brothers

Review

Gargoyles gets its first spin-off under Dynamite Entertainment, and a good one, too. Dark Ages delves into the clan's early medieval past – specifically, the beginning of their alliance with Prince Malcolm that would last for twenty-three years – and end, calamitously, in 994.

The opening is especially effective. We begin with Hudson in modern-day Manhattan, observing some helicopters and continuing to liken them to dragons (as he had done in "Awakening: Part Two"). On the next page, we shift to a younger Hudson (not yet bearing that name, of course... but known as "Mentor") in 971, whom Prince Malcolm and Robbie (the future Captain of the Guard) approach, hoping for his aid in the upcoming war with Culen.

The setting for this story gives us the opportunity to meet many more gargoyles of the Wyvern Clan, and four new ones are introduced in this issue. We meet Mentor's mate, "Verity", who seems a worthy match for him; we see how deeply they love each other, and get a sense of her wisdom when she points out that human problems become gargoyle problems. (An echo of what Goliath said – or will say – in "M.I.A." – and appropriately, he's present in the panel where she says it, in a way that indicates he'd overheard her.) We also meet "Lefty", Mentor's grim second-in-command – and with good reason for his grimness, since he had lost a hand (with a strong hint that the loss stemmed from someone attacking him in his stone sleep), and "Hyppolyta", a particularly impetuous member of "Angel" (what Demona was known as) and Goliath's rookery generation, who protests at her generation being kept out of the battle – and defies that order on the last page. Finally, we discover that the trio was a quartet back in 971, with a female gargoyle their age (unofficially named "Antiope") among them; she appears in only two panels, but we'll probably learn more about her in the succeeding issues.

We get a strong sense of the clan's communal nature, particularly their concern over the well-being of their eggs, both in a charming scene between Mentor and his mate, and later when Mentor orders the younger gargoyle warriors of Goliath's generation to stay out of the battle with Culen, so that the eggs will have someone to look after them if the battle goes awry. (We are also reminded that they don't have names yet – including Mentor's remark, when Prince Malcolm is explaining about the family feud with Culen, about how these human names are so difficult to keep track of.) One of the strengths of Gargoyles was its looking into the gargoyles' nature, delving into their biology, culture, and world-view, and this holds true in Dark Ages just as it did in the main series. (Mentor even correctly points out, during the council of war, that the tactical use of gargoyles should take into account their differences from humans – such as their having wings.)

And we get an impressive medieval battle scene at the end between Kenneth and Prince Malcolm on one side, Culen on the other – a scene to rank alongside the battles in "City of Stone"'s medieval flashbacks – and which is just beginning....

To top it off, the comic is followed by three pages providing the start of the backstory to the struggle over the Scottish throne, based on Greg Weisman's old "Once Upon a Time There Were Three Brothers", but expanded upon. Not only is it given a more medieval diction (the old Maol Chalvim I, for example, is now described as "three-score and six" rather than sixty-six), but also a setting, where a troupe of entertainers comes to Wyvern Hill and one of them – who bears a very strong resemblance to a familiar storyteller from the main series – begins to recount the tale.

A great and welcome start to the Dark Ages spin-off.

First Appearances

Characters

Tidbits

King Culen's standard (seen in this issue that takes place in 971) made its first appearance in "Avalon" Part One as Constantine's standard when he usurped Kenneth II in 995. In addition, the standard of the Three Brothers used by Kenneth II's forces will later be used by Kenneth III's army in 997. Both standards would distinguish the two armies at the Battle of Rathveramoen in "Phoenix".

The next-to-last panel includes the message "In memory of Dave Schwartz".

Cover Gallery

Dynamite Gargoyles Dark Ages 1 Gallery1.jpg
Dynamite Gargoyles Dark Ages 1 Gallery3.jpg
Dynamite Gargoyles Dark Ages 1 Gallery2.jpg


Links

Next Episode: "Alliance" Chapter Two: "The Draw" >>