The Promise

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Gargoyles: Dark Ages #4 by Clayton Crain

"The Promise" is the fourth issue of the Gargoyles: Dark Ages comic by Dynamite Entertainment. It was released on November 1st, 2023. [1]


"It's a busy day at Castle Wyvern - Desdemona studies to become a Gargoyle Priestess and Goliath is given an important title, which makes Iago and Hyppolyta jealous. But things are about too get even busier when the younger Gargoyle's curiosity leads them into a dangerous cave, where an unhappy evil lurks!

The riveting tale of the Gargoyles' origin by writer and Gargoyles creator GREG WEISMAN and artist DREW MOSS continues in this 40-page issue, which includes a new text story from Weisman and all cardstock covers featuring art by CLAYTON CRAIN, ALAN QUAH, MIRKA ANDOLFO, KENYA DANINO, ERICA HENDERSON, and more!

The Story

Opening Quote

Chapter Story

The Tale of the Three Brothers


"The Oath" ended with an effective teaser; the eye of some enormous scaly beast, apparently a dragon. "The Promise", alas, does not advance this new thread, but makes up for it in the further development of other aspects of the tale of how Castle Wyvern came to be.

For a start, we discover an exciting new mystery; the remains of a previous structure stand atop Wyvern Hill. While these help the construction crew with their castle-building project, they also raise the question about the nature of these ruins. Brother Valdez, a monk serving as the architect for Castle Wyvern, speculates that there might have been an earlier human-gargoyle alliance at Wyvern. While we probably won't learn more about that in the remaining two issues, it offers new possibilities for future stories.

In the meantime, Alesand, Robbie's young daughter, explores the rookery, with some delightful scenes as she meets the eggs and make friends with the quartet. (She even bestows "unofficial" names on them all; "Caesar" for Brooklyn, "Alexander" for Lexington, "Charlemagne" for Broadway, and "Antiope" for the female gargoyle who's fourth member of the quartet – explaining those names in the "Once Upon a Time There Were Three Brothers" section.) Her response to the gargoyles is charming, especially at the end, where we see her dream that she sprouts wings and goes gliding with her new friends. (We also see that the other children in the nearby village are less at ease with the gargoyles, though, indicating that not all humans are as open towards these beings as she is.)

And the castle receives visitors – the very troupe of players mentioned in the "Once Upon a Time" sections, now fully on-stage. They call themselves the "Light-Bringers", and their leaders, the Player King and Player Queen look familiar, as does another member, the storyteller Shahrizad. While most of the folk at Wyvern gladly welcome them, Brother Valdez displays strong suspicions towards them, suspicions that I hope will also be followed in the two issues to come. (The Player King only regards the monk with gentle amusement, though his wife is another matter . . .) As an additional treat, we now see the "storytelling framework" of the first instalment of "Once Upon a Time There Were Three Brothers" dramatized, watching as Shahrizad recounts the tale of Prince Malcolm's family to an audience of not only children – humans and gargoyles alike – but also including Robbie, Prince Malcolm, and a grim-faced Iago.

To top it off, we get the start of parallel scenes of Desdemona training to become a "warrior-priestess" under Sacrifice's tutelage and Angel's first lesson under the Archmage. The two scenes are shown side by side (a feature common in the Dynamite "Gargoyles" comics), and display the contrast between the two teacher-and-pupil scenes effectively; my favorite part is at the end, where Sacrifice and the Archmage's statements to their charges – almost alike except for the difference of one word – illustrate the difference in their nature and style.

My only concern about this issue is that I'm not sure that two issues will be enough to tell and complete the story that was hinted at one issue earlier, about the dragon. But what we did receive was a joy, and certainly makes a good interlude between the war with Culen and whatever adventure awaits. . . .

First Appearances




The troupe of players, fittingly, continues Gargoyles' fondness for Shakespeare allusions. The Player King and Queen's titles evoke the players in Hamlet, two of the other actors are named "Benvolio" and "Malvolio" (adding Twelfth Night to the list of Shakespeare plays referenced in Gargoyles), and in the "The Tale of the Three Brothers" section at the end, Shahrizad is called the "Dark Lady".

The gargoyles' nighttime duty at Wyvern Hill is referred to as the Nightwatch, a name that will later be adopted by the news program hosted by Travis Marshall in "The Journey".

Cover Gallery

Dynamite Gargoyles Dark Ages 4 Gallery1.jpg
Dynamite Gargoyles Dark Ages 4 Gallery2.jpg


<< Previous Episode: "Alliance" Chapter Three: "The Oath" Next Episode: "Alliance" Chapter Five: "The Dream" >>