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]


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

Our kind has no names.

Chapter Story

In 1997, Hudson reflects how similar the modern day Manhattan feels to the 10th century Scotland, noting how he can sense a dragon (which others would refer to as a helicopter) in the air before he sees them in the sky.

In 971, he senses two men on horseback by feeling the stones. Their presence across the reach makes him almost wish the two were dragons instead.

Down below, One of the humans directs the other to dismount from their horse. Leaving the horses at the bottom of Wyvern Hill, that same human advises the other to keep his hands in plain view and away from his sword. Before the can proceed any further, a gargoyle lands in from of them, cutting them off. The first human tells the gargoyle that the two are here to see their clan's leader, explaining he has met their Rhydderch before. While the gargoyle recognizes the human speaking, he remains suspicious of the second. The first human explains that his companion is his "greatest friend", someone he's prepared to sacrifice his life for. This testimonial is enough to convince the gargoyle, who tells the humans to follow him. He then begins racing up the hill on all fours. The two humans look at each other for a moment before rushing to catch up. At the top of the hill, the humans are escorted through a gauntlet of gargoyles, where their Rhydderch greets them with caution. The clan leader asks what they want.

The first human reintroduces himself as Robert, who grew up in the village below the reach. He still has ties to the area, explaining that his daughter lives in the same village with her grandmother. Robert introduces his companion, Prince Malcolm: the third son of King Maol Chalvim and brother of King Duff, both now deceased. The clan's Rhydderch clarifies that these are human Kings. Malcolm agrees, and asks who he is addressing. The gargoyle explains: "Our Kind has no names." As the two humans begin to squabble over the faux pas, the gargoyle cuts them off, making it clear he can be referred to as the "Leader of the Wyvern Clan of gargoyles". He begins to grow impatient with the humans, wanting to know what they want.

Prince Malcolm shares that he and Robert have come to make an alliance with the gargoyle clan against the forces of the current King, Culen. The gargoyle leader want clarification; wasn't Malcolm's family royalty? The Prince explains that Culen assassinated his brother Duff, and now his other brother, Kenneth seeks to reclaim the throne. Each new human name frustrates the gargoyle. As they talk, four rooklings listen in on the conversation.

Prince Malcolm asks the gargoyle leader to forget the names and focus on their demeanors as indication that the two are earnest in their intentions. The Rhydderch is unconvinced, so Robert reminds him of the clan's history with the nearby village. He points out that while the humans there have not attacked the clan during the day, Culen's men "make sport of such mayhem". The Rhydderch's second-in-command finds those accounts to be true. Prince Malcom and Robert offer the terms of the alliance: If the Wyvern Clan joins their fight in the night, then the humans in return will protect the gargoyles during the day.

The clan's Rhydderch considers the offer. He tells the Prince and Robert to return to their horses – they will learn the clan's decision within the hour. As they walk downhill, Prince Malcolm asks Robert if he thinks they convinced the gargoyles. Robert tries to be optimistic, but is admittedly unsure.

With a chance for the clan to discuss in private, the clan leader tells his mate that they are being asked to get involved in what appears to a strictly human conflict. From experience, her advice is simple: "Human problems become gargoyle problems – often and rapidly." He finds that assessment true. His second also agrees, but reminds everyone that the clan is being asked to join the humans in battle, which will inevitably lead to casualties, human and gargoyle alike. The decision is not without risk.

Within the hour, the Wyvern Clan's Rhydderch clasps arms with Prince Malcolm, declaring that they have an alliance. The Prince assures the gargoyle he will not be sorry. Robert and several gargoyles watch the accord.

At a human campsite, Princes Maol and Kenny playing at arms, with Prince Maol giving chase to his younger cousin and declaring himself the "True King of Scotland". They crash into their uncle, Prince Malcolm, who asks the boys which of them is, in fact, the True King. Little Prince Maol proudly declares the True King to be his father, Kenneth II. Prince Kenneth isn't ready to call himself king just yet, and the younger Prince Kenny points out the crown has to be won first. Prince Kenneth looks at his younger brother, "Out of the mouths of babes, eh?"

At the Wyvern rookery, the clan leader and his mate are tending to the eggs. While the Rhydderch wonders if they'll live to see them hatch, his mate assures him the hatchlings will still have a clan of rookery parents to raise them. The coming battle clearly on his mind, he wonders about the decision he's made, linking the clan's fate to that of the humans. His mate reminds him that all things are connected and that there's no need for regret or remorse. The important thing now is to win the fight.

At the human camp, Princes Kenneth and Malcolm confer with the Wyvern Clan's Rhydderch and second-in-command. Lieutenant Robert and the Archmage are also in attendance. The gargoyle leader criticizes the battle plans, seeing they minimize the natural advantages his clan can bring to the conflict. The brothers look at each other and Prince Kenneth agrees to consider his counsel.

Back at Wyvern Hill, one of the Rhydderch's rookery daughters challenges her rookery father and leader that her generation is being left out of the fight. The clan leader's decision remains, and she storms off, with another rookery daughter following her. While he doesn't challenge the decision, a rookery son expresses his confusion for keeping so many trained warriors away from the battle. The clan leader explains that, should the battle go badly, the clan will still need prepared warriors to protect their home and eggs. The rookery son sees the wisdom in the decision.

Forces have gathered a day not long after The gargoyles sleep in the cliffs above with Robert waiting at their side. On horseback, Prince Kenneth contemplates the Rhydderch's plan. If it doesn't work, he and his men will be cornered on the beach. Prince Malcolm isn't worried that their men don't have an option for retreat. He reminds his brother that they just have to keep King Culen's forces at bay. In the distance they see the tyrant king. Ordering his men to show no mercy, King Culen begins the attack. The two brother princes, likewise, take the charge.

The battle goes on for hours, continuing into sunset. As King Culen holds his own against Kenneth's men, Prince Malcolm doesn't notice one of Culen's soldiers from behind. He knocks the Prince off his horse with a mace.

Robert grows impatient watching the battle from the cliffs above. He barks at the petrified gargoyles to wake up. As if on cue, the burst awake, raining stone shards on the lieutenant. The clan's Rhydderch and second-in-command take to the skies while Robert leads another cavalry downhill. As they rush into battle, the rookery siblings ordered to stay behind watch from the hill above. The rookery daughter who challenged the clan leader before expresses her frustration once more. Suddenly, she and another rookery sister jump into battle, their rookery brother shouting them to wait.

The Tale of the Three Brothers

The scribe first details how she first learned how to read and write from their friend, Alexander and how her father would always entertain her wishes with providing her the materials needed to cultivate her skills.

She then describes events that took place "long ago", of how a troupe of players came to visit Wyvern Hill. With every local excited to see the troupe perform a play, they grow disappointed when the Lead Player explains that it would need a day and a night to prepare for their performance. In the meantime, one of the two women in the troupe, offers to tell the impatient crowd a story. Soon enough, humans and gargoyles – children and adults alike – gathered around the fire to hear her story:

In 954, King Maol Chalvim I of Scotland lies on his deathbed and asks his two sons, Duff and Kenneth II, to support each other and to protect Katharine, his third wife, and her expecting child. The brothers vow to do so and later travel to bury their father at Iona. While the brothers mourn, their cousin, Indulf, crowns himself King on the Stone of Scone after making alliances and gathering troops. Duff and Kenneth II are ready to challenge his claim until word breaks that Indulf also has Katharine (and soon after, her newborn son, Malcolm) in his custody, insuring the two brothers won’t attack.

The storyteller pauses her story, insisting it will be continued another night, unconvinced from the impatient pleas from the audience.


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.

Featured Characters and First Appearances

Gargoyles Humans



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".

Kenneth's remark of "Out of the mouth of babes" is adapted from biblical passages found in both the Jewish and Christian Bibles (Psalms 8:3, Matthew 21:16).

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 Gallery2.jpg Dynamite Gargoyles Dark Ages 1 Gallery3.jpg


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