Tag Archives: 1990s

Avengers Assemble – A Long Way from Home

Ahoy, readers! Ar ye ready to sail in uncharted waters? Avast! It is time we be spinning tales of those famed heroes from Earth, the Mightiest of Champions – the Avengers!

You will see why I played around with the pirate lingo when we reach the end of the post. 😉 Normally, piratical speech is not my thing. It is used way too much these days for effect – or as a form of mockery for pirate tales – which means it tends to irritate me. So when one of Avengers Assemble’s episodes played around with the vernacular, I had to grit my teeth from time to time. It was either that or cover my ears, and since I wanted to keep track of the story, I put up with it.

The first episode we will discuss aired before Christmas of 2017. Titled “New Year’s Resolutions,” it starred Tony, Cap, Howard Stark and – at long last – Peggy Carter, voiced by Haley Atwell herself. Yay…!

Mostly. Sorta. Kind of.

Okay, okay, I had major problems with Peggy’s portrayal in the cartoon. The writers had her showing Steve up too much and generally did not let her be the Peggy I saw and enjoyed in Captain America: The First Avenger. I am guessing this has something to do with her depiction in her own series, Agent Carter, which leaned heavy on the Femi-Nazi and light on the story/character.

From what little I know of the series Agent Carter, Peggy came across as an angry, “let-me-prove-I’m-just-as-good-as-the-men” character, something which was certainly not the case in The First Avenger. It was more than a little sad to see her get short shrift in this episode, which I had been looking forward to viewing for some time. Peggy had her moments here, but they were few and far between.

Thankfully, “New Year’s Resolutions” was not all bad news. The interplay between Tony and Howard in this episode almost made up for Peggy’s disappointing deportment. We actually got to see the younger Stark bond with his father WITHOUT being a total brat or jerk about it. It was an unexpectedly sweet touch to what otherwise would have been a depressing, watered-down show.

Speaking of pluses, watching the four beat Kang was pure fun. And Arno Stark got to show up as Tony’s descendant rather than his hidden, younger brother. There was no Arno-should-have-been-Iron-Man stupidity here, for which I am very thankful. Although I must admit, I would have liked to have heard the thirtieth century Stark toss out a zinger or two, just to show the genes had not faded over the millennium between him and Tony.

Image result for Avengers Assemble New Year’s Resolutions

All of this is to say that “New Year’s Resolutions” is an episode worth watching, despite its substandard treatment of Peggy Carter. Now if Marvel would just do what I asked and give the Avengers an adventure that took place on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, showing the team celebrating the holiday, I would know we were making some progress here. (No, I am not holding my breath while waiting for them to do that.)

Next we come to “The Eye of Agamotto, Parts 1 & 2.” By a stroke of good fortune, I got to see Doctor Strange before these episodes came out. Strange has never been anywhere near my Favorite Marvel Characters’ list, so the film and his appearance in the shows served more as filler material than anything else for me. But the fact that I got to see the movie meant I was prepared for Strange’s changed look; prior to the movie, he had long hair in Assemble. It is now shorter and much more practical.

Part 1 one of “The Eye of Agamotto” showed the Avengers – Cap, Hawkeye, Falcon, Black Panther, and Carol Danvers – defending a SHIELD storehouse from HYDRA agents. Well, mostly defending it. The bad guys got away with whatever magical doohicky they wanted, but Cap and Panther succeed in tracking it down.

Unfortunately, said gem is already in the hands of Strange’s arch nemesis, Baron Mordo. (The artists did a good job making him look like his film counterpart.) This is Panther’s first encounter with a bonafide sorcerer, but he handles himself pretty well here. We also see him getting calls from his little sister, Shuri, who has to ring him up for Wakandan business at the most inopportune times. It gets so bad that he shunts her calls to voicemail.

Image result for Avengers Assemble The Eye of Agamotto part 1

So when she shows up on his and Cap’s six unannounced, it nearly ends in disaster. Declaring that “no one puts [her] on voicemail,” Shuri insists on tagging along for the adventure, triggering the traps Mordo set up with a bracelet gizmo she designed herself. She has to help T’Challa and Steve best Mordo after the latter uses a spell to steal Cap’s powers.

T’Challa does well in this episode and so does Steve – for the most part. While I enjoyed seeing Shuri at long last, the writers could not resist plugging the “girl power” motif during this adventure. It was not simply annoying, it was Matronizing, and obviously so. I can handle Shuri having a list of degrees which nearly circles the world, but that should not be what makes her interesting. She comes from a culture of warriors, people! For Pete’s sake, her brother’s personal bodyguard corps is made up entirely of women so that peace can be maintained among Wakanda’s tribes. I do not think they have any of our “problems” with “women’s representation.”

Image result for Avengers Assemble The Eye of Agamotto part 1

Shuri

In this episode, Shuri is used to pantomime the idea that “brains beat brawn” – especially if they are female brains to men’s brawn. No, Marvel writers. No, no, no, and no. Women are not physically strong enough, as a general rule, to overpower men, yes. Having Shuri outsmart Mordo was great, yes. But if you want her to be T’Challa and Cap’s equal, show her not as a snobby, easily offended young woman looking down her nose at them, but as a young woman who can roll with the punches when she cannot dodge ‘em. The writers did not do that properly here, which rankled. Badly.

Other than this irksome theme, we got a good show which demonstrated the strength of Cap and Panther’s friendship, and which showed Steve being his usual, gracious self. It also put the spotlight, however briefly and dimly, on Shuri, which is great. All in all it was not a bad romp. It could have been better, but it was not bad.

Image result for Avengers Assemble The Eye of Agamotto part 2

Part 2 of “The Eye of Agamotto” was very entertaining, and it made up for the lousy element in Part 1. Following their previous adventure, Cap and Panther bring an odd sorcerer back to Avengers’ Compound after he tells them he needs to see Stephen Strange. We only see them doing this after a cute exchange between Hawkeye and the Hulk, as the archer is busy going through receipts for the damage Big Green dealt out – accidentally or on purpose – while doing his job. (I am surprised the piles of receipts were not bigger and taller.)

Strange arrives at the Compound while this is going on, launching an attack against Cap and Panther while they are trying to land. It takes him awhile, but he eventually manages to explain that he was not shooting at them per se. Whatever or whoever is with them has some bad magic which is making the Eye of Agamotto that Strange wears go bonkers.

Turns out, the man Cap and Panther met at the end of the last episode is Agamotto himself. He’s come back to get his eye (guess what the Eye of Agamotto is in Assemble, readers), and casts a spell which knocks down Cap, Panther, Hawkeye, and Kamala Khan. At the same time they get knocked out, evil shadow duplicates of them appear to attack Strange and the Avenger who depowered to avoid getting magicked – Hulk/Bruce Banner.

You will want to see this episode for the ending alone, readers. It is a hoot, a scream. About halfway through I was laughing so hard that it is amazing I could keep up with the dialogue for this show. I mean it – this episode was pure, undiluted fun! Strange and Hulk even became friends by the end of the show. Bonus points!

After these episodes came the first four “Secret Wars” installments which gave the season its name. The first episode here was “Beyond.” At the start of the show, the Avengers arrive in Central Park when a glowing crack appears in the ground. Then they try to fall back as it widens and white light erupts from it. Seconds later (as far as anyone can tell), the team wakes up in a desert at night. Right on cue, Avengers Tower rises out of the sand next to them. Naturally, they go inside to see if this is really their old home, finding it is and that everything inside is in perfect working order.

During their investigation, they also find an uninvited guest. Having spread a feast on the table for them, he invites them to sit and chow down while he explains everything. No one sits down, of course, or starts eating. They just demand to know who this guy is and what the Sam Hill he has done to them.

For those new to the Marvel universe(s), this unwelcome guest is the Beyonder. He is far different from the Beyonder I met in the 1990s. That Beyonder was not a sick, twisted megalomaniac – at least, I did not think he was. I do not know what he is/was like in the comics, so I cannot say how true his appearance in either series is to the original material, but the Beyonder in the ‘90s was a sight nicer than this guy. Another difference here, aside from his personality, is that this version of the Beyonder uses advanced technology for his little experiment. In the ‘90s he was some cosmic magician who could snap his fingers and do almost anything he wanted.

You are probably getting the idea that I was expecting to see the Beyonder this season. I certainly had a suspicion he would appear; the ‘90s “Secret Wars” arc of the Spider-Man TV series was one of my favorites. Like the original Star Trek episode The Savage Curtain, the animated ‘90s “Secret Wars” saw the Beyonder send Spider-Man to an alien world that had never known evil. The Beyonder introduced some of the worst villains from Earth to this world, then dispatched Spidey to choose a team of superheroes to stop the bad guys, proving once and for all whether good was really stronger than evil.

Image result for 1990s Spider-Man Secret Wars

Secret Wars – ’90s Style!

Spidey and his team won, of course, but it was this storyline which made me expect to see the Beyonder in Assemble. I was looking forward to seeing him again, though in light of the 2015 sham “Secret Wars,” I was worried about what would become of our heroes in the cartoon. Now I see that I should have been worried about the Beyonder, too. But maybe he was originally an evil super genius bent on satisfying his curiosity at all costs, making this portrayal of him a return to the norm. I don’t know which it is, though, so I will leave this subject alone now.

Anyway, after pinning our heroes to the walls with his tech, the Beyonder explains that he has taken pieces from different worlds and dimensions to create a new planet he calls Battleworld. (Battleworld comes from the 2015 “Secret Wars” and, from what little I know of that travesty to comicdom, Beyonder’s description here sounds about right for that Battleworld as well.) Like in the ‘90s, he is apparently trying to determine here whether good or evil is stronger.

The big problem with his plan in Assemble – aside from the fact that he took everyone from Earth, Asgard, and every where else without a by-your-leave – is that the longer the separated chunks are away from their homeworlds/dimensions/what-have-you, the more unstable those realms become. So, if the pieces are not returned to their proper places (and fast), the whole universe/multi-verse is going to explode and die. Not a pretty picture for our heroes, to be sure.

“Beyond” sees the team spread out to learn the layout of Battleworld and begin finding a way to put everything back together again. The particular part of Battleworld where Avengers’ Tower is situated is called Egyptia. Why it is called this I do not know, unless there is another realm/dimension/thing out there called Egypt. So far, Egyptia just seems to be a distorted Egypt from Earth.

Related image

Back to the show; Cap and Widow are the ones reconnoitering Egyptia. Finding a pyramid in the middle of the dunes, they go to investigate and run into a bunch of sand mummies/zombies. Things look grim for the home team but, luckily, the wandering super genius known as Iron Man drops in to save the day. The Beyonder took part of the dimension he was trapped in for his Battleworld. That part of the “planet” is called No-Tech Land, presumably because most modern machinery does not work there. This allows Tony to reunite with his friends, and the high jinks and battles ensue before he, Cap, and Widow rejoin the rest of the team at the Tower.

“Underworld” is the follow-up episode, and it begins with Loki raining on the reunion by declaring he wants to join the Avengers because the Beyonder wrecked Asgard for his little experiment. Predictably, the answer to Loki’s request is a lot of lightning bolts, repulsor blasts, arrows, and punches – none of which land, sadly. “Capturing” him, Thor, Tony, and Hulk learn that Loki is the one who told the Beyonder Earth’s location, giving them more reason to be angry at him. But since parts of Asgard are now mushed into Battleworld, and because Loki has personal knowledge of the Beyonder, Tony states that they need him and the four head out to New York City.

Related image

The reason this episode is called “Underworld” is because NYC is under a rock – literally. When Beyonder ripped it off of Earth, he put the city underground. And beneath New York, he put a bunch of Asgardian rock trolls. So when the Avengers show up, they have to defend the New Yorkers who were transported along with their city from the rock giants.

Loki does his whining “why-do-we-have-to-save-the-humans” routine, but turns into a big help when the Enchantress shows up. He almost sacrifices himself to fix the Bifrost, which is underground with New York, but Thor stops him and they escape. Then the Beyonder shows up and Hulk jumps at him to do his smashing gig –

…Only for the Beyonder to split the Hulk and Banner personalities into two people with his tech. Did not see that coming, and I have to say, it worries me. Bruce came out the worse for wear either before or after 2015’s “Secret Wars.” I am pretty sure he went nuts, and I know who “killed” him (you are in so much trouble for that, by the way, Marvel writers), so I worry that we will see something similar in Assemble. If what I think may happen does occur, then the “writers” running Marvel are in even BIGGER trouble with me.

Aside from this one worrying point, this show was a hoot. Hulk had the most fun here at Loki’s expense, and the only thing I want more than to see Hawkeye finally give the Trickster what he deserves is to watch Hulk pick on him. As for Loki turning “hero,” I predict that that will not last long. There may be a little good in Loki, but the problem with that is it is too darn small a piece of good. The bad outweighs the good, and while the Trickster of Asgard may be an open and shut case of “hope over experience,” I believe the Avengers should temper hope with sense by keeping their hands close to their weapons.

Next we have “The Immortal Weapon.” This episode was good, clean fun, and it actually gave me something I have been begging the writers for since the series started: a new hero. Iron Fist at last makes his debut in Avengers Assemble here. Though he is voiced by the same actor from Ultimate Spider-Man, Iron Fist is unquestionably an adult in Assemble. It was nice to see him again; he got short shrift from season three of Ultimate Spider-Man onward, and it is good to have him back in the spotlight no matter how briefly he appears.

Image result for Avengers Assemble The Immortal Weapon

Anyway, among the many things the Beyonder stole from Earth was K’un-Lun. But unlike New York, K’un-Lun is above ground and it is peaceful. Everyone is going about their daily business as if nothing has changed, puzzling Falcon and Black Panther, who have been sent here to pick up an item to repair the destroyed Bifrost. Things get even more confusing when the two explain to Iron Fist that they need Heimdall’s sword to help rebuild the Bifrost and set everything right. For no apparent reason, Danny attacks the two, stating emphatically that they cannot take the sword.

Neither Avenger listens when Iron Fist repeatedly states that taking the sword will unleash a great evil. So both are surprised when Falcon retrieves the weapon and Dracula pops out of the stone where it was embedded. (Nice sword in the stone reference, Marvel jerkfaces.) Turns out, Danny could not explain why the sword had to stay put because Dracula cursed him so that he could not say his name, period, in relation to anything. If anyone had asked Iron Fist about Bram Stoker’s novel, it is likely that Danny would not have been able to name the book because of the curse.

But Falcon and Panther, who have been having the “I’m-not-a-kid-anymore/I’m-a-king” argument from the start of the show, did not stop to put two and two together. Danny gets a really good scene when this argument starts back up again, putting one hand to his face and shaking his head, before telling the two to knock it off and get their act together. Tension is added to the show when the three learn of a familiar alien substance that has bonded to Dracula to make him immune to sunlight. The vampire king plans to find more of these familiar substances to make an army of daywalker vampires, but our heroes put the kibosh on the plan.

Really, this episode was nigh flawless. I had no real reservations while watching it or after it ended. It was a fun caper with no dark portents for the future of the series, and it gave all three heroes a chance to shine brightly for a change. This one earns a big, wholehearted “YAY!” from this viewer.

Image result for Avengers Assemble The Vibranium Coast

Finally, we have “The Vibranium Coast.” This is the show which gave vent to the piratical turns of phrase you encountered at the beginning of this post, readers. Ant-Man and Kamala Khan are headed to the Vibranium Coast – the one part of Battleworld, so far, which does not appear to be related to Earth at all – to pick up the Vibranium Tony and Loki need to rebuild the Bifrost and fix everything.

Scott is nervous about the job, feeling the pressure of not messing the mission up royally, while Khan continues to be her annoying, useless self. She misidentifies a pirate ship as Atlantis or another place, and the first misidentification should not have popped out of her mouth. For Pete’s sake, even on Battleworld, Atlantis would have to be under water. Most Atlanteans cannot breathe air or stay on land for long periods of time, and so far, the Beyonder has not demonstrated a desire to wipe out the populations of the places he steals all in one go. If they die over time, he will shrug it off, but the fact that NYC and K’un-Lun still have inhabitants shows he wants live specimens for his “experiment,” not cities full of dead bodies.

But we digress. Scott and Khan’s jet is shot out of the sky by the ship and the two are picked up by Typhoid Mary, who lays on the pirate act and lingo real thick. I have to say, my first introduction to Typhoid Mary did not make me like her. She reminds me too much of Harley Quinn, the Joker’s sidekick from DC Comics. Whether that is the intention of the writers or not, the fact is that her resemblance to the Joker’s apprentice wins her no favors with me.

Image result for Avengers Assemble The Vibranium Coast

Despite this, Typhoid Mary actually made this zany episode palatable for me. Having Red Skull and Crossbones playing pirates makes them seem silly, until you are faced with the even crazier Typhoid Mary. After her, anything else out of the ordinary looks mild. Her part in the story took the edge off the foolishness of seeing Red Skull be called “Dred Skull,” the master of the “Dred Skull Sea.” 😉

Ant-Man did not do badly in this show, which was a real improvement over his first four episodes this season. He got to be smart, manly, and funny without compromising his character or his masculinity. That alone would make this episode worth watching, but with Typhoid Mary’s craziness thrown in the mix, I suggest you check out the show for the laughs, too. There is also a GREAT scene at the end which had me in fits because it was so perfect. You should definitely watch this episode, readers. It is FUN!

However, despite this glowing review, I must admit that I had my usual problems with Khan here. The writers are working overtime to make her appeal to viewers, and it is not helping. Aside from a few verbal mistakes, Khan does not trip or fall flat on her face the way a normal rookie would in this show. Scott’s and the other Avengers’ care for and kindness to her are great for them, but it does nothing to make Khan more appealing or enhance her part in the series.

If you put Inferno or Firestar or Spectrum in her place in “The Vibranium Coast” as the new rookie on the team (no matter their age), it would work better because the writers would not be bending over backwards to make the audience love them the way they are for Khan. Seriously, everything they do for Khan is pure political pandering, and it shows. Somehow, in this episode, she is the only Avenger present who knows how to use swords, all because her parents let her take fencing lessons?!?

That does not fit with what little I remember reading about the concept behind Khan’s creation. There it was stated that her parents are terrified of letting her anywhere near a boy her own age, forget an adult man. So why would they suddenly let her take fencing lessons? In fact, why is she even allowed out of the house in normal clothes? Shouldn’t she be wearing something more traditional? And why not let her use her powers or natural skills to duck and dodge swordstrokes? If she is so great, then why do the writers have to give her the simple, Feminista out of, “And she can fence, too!”?

The more the writers set her up to be an uber woman settling into her place in the Avengers, the less interesting she becomes, just like her namesake. Khan adds nothing to the Marvel universe(s) or Assemble.

Related image

Dust

Dust was more interesting because she was actually allowed to make mistakes, worry about her traditional upbringing and her career as an X-Man, and learn to stretch her wings. Khan is not allowed to even voice such fears or problems in the show; she has no vulnerabilities – other than a penchant for geeking out when she meets a famous hero/villain – and it makes her dull as dishwater. She is useless, plain and simple, and she is getting on my nerves.

I do not expect the Marvel writers to change Khan and make her more interesting, readers. I expect them to double down on her portrayal with a vengeance. They cannot be wrong, while we peons are always wrong and should hate ourselves for it. (Bah.) If they want to think that way and try to financially survive while they are doing it, then they can knock themselves out. Nothing anyone says to the contrary will stop them.

This leads to my final points. For the most part, as is obvious from this article, I enjoyed these episodes. However, the higher you fly, the farther you can fall. It is quite possible that whatever comes next will be an absolute disaster for fans of the true, the good, and the beautiful who love not only Assemble, but Marvel in general. We could end up with a serious mess on ours hands when the next installment of Avengers Assemble: Secret Wars rolls around.

We could just as easily rise to new heights with only little pinpricks of annoyance (and irritating, politically correct sham characters) to bother us from here on out. While I hope for that, I intend to try and follow my own advice to the Avengers about Loki: be prepared for experience to trump hope again. When it comes to mortal man, experience is something to be remembered, even when hope begs for “just one more chance” to get things right.

I have my keyboard ready, Marvel. I am still watching you. Mess up, and expect to see me say something about it. Because if you play “the heroes and heroines are actually villains and the villains are heroes” card too much more, you will go out of business. I do not want that for you, but you are sure acting like that is what you want. Do not think I will avoid speaking my piece about it. You should know me better than that by now. 😉

‘Til next time, readers – Avengers Assemble!!!

Advertisements

 Gargoyles: “We are Defenders of the Night….”

The Manhattan Clan

Heigh-ho, DiNozzo!

DAY FIVE of Torture Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo, coming at you!  How’s your week been so far, Tony?

Miserable?  Huh.  That’s strange.  I’ve been having fun this whole time.

Hah-ha!  You missed!  Try to head slap me again, and I’ll call Gibbs down on you!

Easy, easy!  If you’re that desperate for me to start talking then I’ll just skip the pleasantries and jump right in.

You are?

All right, here we go!

Back in the 1990’s, Disney had an interesting animated series called Gargoyles.  It starts out one night in New York City.  A storm is moving in.  People are walking along the streets when they hear loud explosions from the top of a nearby skyscraper.  Looking up, they’re in time to notice falling debris.  Everyone jumps out of the way as huge blocks of stone crash to the street below.

The police arrive and push the curious crowd away from the scene.  One detective, Elisa Maza, gets close enough to the stones to notice one block has huge claw marks in it.

Her musing is cut off as more blocks fall and she has to pull back.  But what could leave claw marks like those in solid stone?

The answer?  Gargoyles.

Gargoyles, as a series, technically begins in 994 A.D. at Castle Wyvern in Scotland.  Vikings are attacking the castle.  It is almost nightfall, and the Viking soldiers are nervous.  They say it is insanity to attack a castle with gargoyles near night time.

But their leader, Hakon, intends to take Wyvern at all costs.  Declaring that the gargoyles “are no more than carven stone” he leads his men in climbing the walls.  He reaches the top of the tower, where the biggest gargoyle sits in a thoughtful pose. The sun sets….

And the gargoyles, starting with the one nearest Hakon, shed a skin of stone and spring to life!

Hakon is shocked, but still attacks the huge gargoyle (6ft, 10 inches tall) above him.  The gargoyle is called Goliath by the residents of the castle for his size and strength.  He blocks the Viking’s stroke but has his hand cut in the process.  Hakon urges his men to fight the gargoyles since they can be hurt.

The attack is pitiful as the gargoyles almost playfully drive the Vikings away.  Goliath throws Hakon after his men, and the Viking leader swears vengeance for the humiliating defeat the gargoyles have handed him before he, too, retreats.

At a feast in the hall later that night the teenage Princess Katherine, ruler of Castle Wyvern, offers the Captain of the Guard her thanks for such a brave defense.  The Captain replies that it was Goliath and the gargoyles who really won the night.  Princess Katherine frostily requests that he avoid mentioning “that monster’s name in my presence!”  No sooner does she utter these words than the doors to hall are thrown open and Goliath and his mate enter.  The Captain hastily explains that he asked them in so they could be thanked for their bravery.

The entire castle court, present for the feast, is affronted by the gargoyles ‘daring’ to enter their company.  Both the Princess and her magician, known only as the Magus, describe the gargoyles as beasts to their faces.  Goliath’s mate (voiced by Mirina Sirtis, a.k.a. Deana Troi) hisses angrily at the insults but Goliath pulls her back and excuses the two of them from the party before trouble can erupt.

Outside on the walls, the Captain apologizes for the insults but Goliath brushes them off.  She does not, accusing her mate of having neither a sense of justice nor of pride.  Goliath responds that it is the nature of humans to fear what they don’t understand and seemingly calms her down.  Later on, the Magus is shown flipping through his book of spells in search of something.

At dawn the gargoyles return to the walls where the rising sun again turns them to stone statues.  Just after the sun has risen, a lone rider leaves the castle.

In the camp of the Vikings, he speaks to Hakon.  “You seek to take Castle Wyvern,” says the traitor.

Hakon is skeptical until the man mentions a way may be opened for the Vikings to get in.

That night Goliath, his mate, and the Captain talk about the threat the Vikings still pose to the castle.  The Captain suggests Goliath take his clan of gargoyles and hunt down the Vikings so they cannot attack the castle again.  Goliath’s mate seconds the plan, but Goliath himself is leery of the idea of leaving the castle defenseless.  He also reasons that the plan puts too many gargoyles at risk.

However, he’s not averse to chasing down the Vikings himself.  Because of his size and strength, he feels he can “scare those cowards away without any help.”  His mate begs to go with him but Goliath refuses.  As his second-in-command, she will have to remain at the castle to keep order among the other gargoyles.  Still, he promises that he won’t go after the Vikings completely alone.

With this plan settled, Goliath goes to find his traveling companion.  His mate flies off to another section of the castle and watches two younger gargoyles play with the castle gargoyle ‘watchdog.’

A young human boy named Tom, curious about the gargoyles, approaches the two and asks their names.  They reply that only Goliath has a name; traditionally gargoyles don’t take names.  The budding friendship is halted by Tom’s mother as she pulls him away from the gargoyles in fear.  One gargoyle with red skin tries to assure her that they would never hurt the boy but her response is to throw an old bone at him, catching him in the beak.

Angered, Goliath’s mate enters the situation, reprimanding the scared woman for her behavior.  Things get further out of hand when the two gargoyles start ‘teasing’ the woman and a few other peasants attracted to the noise.  Before things totally spiral out of control, Goliath and an older, one-eyed gargoyle drop down between the gargoyles and humans.  Goliath chastises the two gargoyles and a third (who was eating during the fuss but arrived on the scene in time to be mistaken as a partner in the mischief).  He sentences the three and the ‘watchdog’ to a night in the rookery, the part of the castle where the gargoyles keep their eggs.

Goliath’s mate defends the three, claiming it was the humans who started the fight.  Goliath, although he cannot permit fighting between gargoyles and humans, promises that he will make amends with the three punished gargoyles the next night.  Then he and his mentor take off to find the Vikings.

It takes the two all night to catch up with the Norsemen.  When they do, they find only a handful of Vikings leading the band’s horses as a distraction.  Turning back to get to the castle, Goliath and his mentor are too late.  The sun rises and both transform into their ‘stone sleep’ for the day’s duration.

That day Hakon attacks the castle.  Though the human defenders fight, they are betrayed.  The archers’ bowstrings snap and someone opens the portcullis.  The Vikings rush into the castle and begin a slaughter.

Running to get to her commander, Princess Katherine meets the traitorous Captain of the guard who grabs her wrist and leads her away with a snarl.  The castle is soon sacked and the Vikings have carried the day.

On the walls at dusk, Hakon and the Captain discuss their deal.  Then Hakon turns to a nearby stone gargoyle and raises his mace.  The Captain tries to stop him but when the Viking leader threatens his own life; the traitor sits back and watches as Hakon begins smashing the defenseless gargoyles to pieces.

That night, Goliath and his mentor return to find the castle burning and their clan rubble.  Goliath is especially distraught when he finds his mate’s perch.  Mourning his ‘Angel of the Night,’ Goliath finds the punished trio and ‘watchdog’ are the only survivors of the Wyvern massacre.  The five unanimously decide to rescue the inhabitants of the castle and then get revenge on whoever betrayed them.

In the camp of the Vikings, Princess Katherine vows to see both Hakon and the Captain hang for what they’ve done.  When the Magus suggests what he would do if he had his book of spells in hand, Hakon contemptuously rips a page from the book and burns it.  The little chat is interrupted by a gargoyle roar.  Terrified, Hakon orders his men to attack while the Princess seizes her opportunity and makes a run for it.  Hakon and the Captain pursue her with the intention of killing her while the forgotten Magus attempts to free himself.

The three young gargoyles, the watchdog, and Goliath’s mentor quickly chase off the Viking band.  But the round of congratulations is cut short when the Magus, having freed himself, spots them.  The last he saw of the Princess, she was running for her life from Hakon and the Captain.  Thinking she’s been killed and in a blind fury, he casts a spell on the bewildered gargoyles.

Meanwhile Goliath, who saw the escaping Princess, has arrived to help her.  She and her two captors are backed up against a cliff and Goliath is furious when he recognizes the Captain.  The Captain begs his old friend for mercy, saying that if he had only taken the whole clan with him they would still be alive.  When Hakon attempts to divert Goliath’s wrath solely onto the Captain, he becomes enraged and attacks the Viking.  In the struggle the two fall off the cliff, knocking the Princess off as well.

Forgetting his rage, Goliath rushes forward in time to catch and rescue Katherine.  He is too late to do anything with Hakon and the Captain, who tumble into darkness.  But Goliath has little time to mourn his lost revenge as Tom, taken captive by the Vikings with his mother during the day, rushes up to him and the Princess with bad news.

Returning to the Viking camp, Goliath finds his remaining gargoyles turned to stone at night.  The Magus is about to do the same to him when he spies Princess Katherine.  Goliath orders the magician to restore his friends but the Magus cannot.  The counter spell was on the page Hakon burned earlier in the evening.

However, the terms of the spell are that the gargoyles “shall sleep until the castle rises above the clouds.”  So there is hope, albeit faint and thin.

Restoring his friends to their places in the castle, Goliath accepts the apologies of both the Princess and the Magus who have changed their opinions of him and his species.  He then asks that they each do something for him: he requests that the Princess guard and care for the gargoyle eggs in the rookery since they will soon hatch.  On receiving her promise, Goliath then asks the Magus to cast the spell he put upon the other gargoyles on him as well.

As dawn breaks over the silent castle, the audience spots Goliath in his accustomed place atop the tower of Wyvern castle.

Whew, that is one of the longest descriptions I have ever had to write!  And this is for the first two episodes of a five part opening!

Aw, come on, DiNozzo!  I’m almost out of breath here!  All right, tell you what: there’s too much detail in the next three episodes, so I’ll attempt to sum them up.

Castle Wyvern stands in its exact place for a thousand years.  Then, in 1994, a millionaire named David Xanatos arrives and buys the castle lock, stock, and barrel.  (Interestingly, Xanatos is drawn to resemble Jonathan Frakes, who voices the character throughout the run of the series.)  He transports the castle to the top of his newest skyscraper, high above the clouds.

This fulfills the terms of the spell and awakens Goliath and the other gargoyles.  Xanatos tries to make friends with them, and an attack on the castle seems to help reinforce his claim of friendship.

Still, once bitten is twice shy.  Goliath’s trust is no longer easily given to whoever asks for it.  Xanatos finds the huge gargoyle hard to bring around, and he doesn’t seem to like it.

Later, Elisa Maza arrives at the castle atop the skyscraper to ask about the noise she heard, the fire of automatic weapons.  Xanatos shows her around after telling her that his “multi-million dollar company” is threatened on all sides and he has a right to the arms he keeps on hand to protect his assets.  After the tour he asks his butler, Owen Burnett, to show Elisa out.  On the way Elisa spots one of the gargoyles but doesn’t realize he’s not made of stone.  Owen tells her he gets the creeps around the old castle at night, too.  He puts her in the elevator and leaves.

But Elisa doesn’t.  Stopping the elevator, she proceeds to poke around the castle.  The watchdog and Goliath surprise her and Goliath has to rescue her when she accidentally falls off the parapet.  Taking her back to the castle, he explains the gargoyles’ history and she explains what a detective is.  Curious about this new human (who is equally curious about the gargoyles), Goliath agrees to meet Elisa the next night a few rooftops away.  As the NYPD detective leaves, Goliath is summoned to Xanatos’s office.

Xanatos tells Goliath the attackers stole important ‘talismen’ (computer disks) from him.  He asks Goliath if he and the others would be willing to go and get the disks back.  Though he is grateful for Xanatos’s awakening the clan, Goliath draws back from doing this.  He is unwilling to send his entire clan into open battle when they don’t know the risks.  Xanatos lets the subject go and Goliath leaves, as it is nearly dawn and he will have to sleep soon.  But it’s obvious that Xanatos wants Goliath to go after those disks.

So the day passes and Goliath goes to meet Elisa.  His mentor drops in almost as soon as the two meet, having come to make sure Goliath wasn’t walking into an ambush.  Elisa’s response is that the two gargoyles are “paranoid even for New York!”  She then offers to give Goliath a tour of the city and asks what to call his friend.  When it’s revealed that Goliath’s mentor has no name, a debate between Elisa and the older gargoyle ensues.  In the end, the old warrior agrees to take a name honoring the Hudson River in order to satisfy Elisa (the Hudson part, not the river part, you goose!).

To get from place to place, Goliath has to carry Elisa since she can’t fly and he would attract attention by walking down the street.  This leads to an awkward moment that hints Goliath and Elisa have begun a romance; a hint the newly named Hudson sees right off the bat.

Oh, gee wiz, it’s not an impossible plot twist, Tony!  Remember the series Beauty and the Beast?  It even happens in real life!  Have you married Ziva yet?  No, but you’re giving each other the look.

Whoa!  Hey, no head slapping here!  That’s Gibbs’s department!  Do you want me to call him?!

Then sit down and let me finish.  Thank you.

Anyway, Elisa and Goliath’s night is going fine when the same people who attacked the castle come after Goliath.  They manage to sting him with a tranquilizer dart but it has very little effect on the giant gargoyle, merely making him unable to take off and somewhat drowsy.  Elisa soon discovers how the mercenaries found them; someone planted a bug on Goliath.  Taking it off, the savvy detective attaches the device to a stray dog and helps Goliath farther into the park.

But the pursuit continues until dawn, when Goliath must again transform to stone.  With the renegades closing in, Elisa takes action.  She leads the band to the lake in Central Park and manages to lose them there, returning to the spot where Goliath is sleeping to guard him through the day.  As night falls Goliath sheds his stone skin and stretches.  Elisa is as surprised by this as by his sudden change to stone during the day.  The two agree to meet later that night and then part ways amicably after shaking hands.

Back at the castle, the trio learns from a returned Goliath that Hudson took a name.  Inspired, the three then name themselves: the red gargoyle calls himself Brooklyn; the large (bordering on fat) gargoyle takes the name Broadway, appropriately enough; and the smallest calls himself Lexington (thereafter called ‘Lex’ for short).  Brooklyn then names the watchdog Bronx, though the creature seems less than enthusiastic about the new name.

After the round of name-giving, Xanatos calls Goliath to his office yet again.  This time, however, he has a surprise.  A door in his office opens to reveal Goliath’s ‘Angel of the Night,’ alive and physically unchanged by the centuries!

Their reunion is happy enough but something is off, or at least it is to the audience.  Goliath’s mate spins a story about begging to be frozen like the rest of the clan and that Xanatos bought her before purchasing and moving the castle.  He then brought her to the castle to see if she was also under a spell, at which time she awoke as well.  She next suggests that the clan go after the stolen disks, hidden in three facilities belonging to a rival company, as a thank you for Xanatos’s awakening them.

Can you say ‘set up’?

Overjoyed to have her back, though, Goliath agrees to the plan.  He sends Hudson and Bronx after one facility and the trio after a second.  The third, a floating fortress, is his and his mate’s to attack.

The two other teams accomplish their missions easily enough, retrieving the disks but hurting no one.  At least, they hurt no one very seriously.

The fortress battle is another matter.  Goliath and his mate easily knock down a few guards, but then Goliath’s mate prepares to drop one of the unconscious men out of an open hatch.  Goliath is horrified by this attempt at murder and prevents it.  Because they’re in a battle, Goliath has to concentrate more on the task at hand then on his mate’s sudden change in behavior.  The two soon retrieve the disk and Goliath is prepared to simply leave.

His mate, however, has other ideas.  She rips a power cord out of a console and sets it to the control systems of the fortress.  This wrecks the fortress’s ability to stay aloft and it starts to plummet into the bay.  Goliath is forced to avoid telling his mate off so they can instead focus on escaping the sinking ‘ship.’

On a pier below, Elisa arrives as the fortress crashes into the bay.  She catches sight of two gargoyles gliding away from the scene and recognizes one of them as Goliath.

At the castle, the clan gives the disks to Xanatos and goes outside.  Remembering his promise to meet Elisa, Goliath tells the others he has to meet a friend.  His mate becomes angry, saying that the clan has no friend other than Xanatos.  Because of her behavior aboard the fortress and her outburst here, Goliath doesn’t name Elisa and remarks that while his mate says the centuries have changed him, they seemed to have changed her more.  He leaves the castle, and his ‘Angel of the Night’ goes in to see Xanatos.

Meeting Elisa on a rooftop some distance away, Goliath is surprised to find her angry and somewhat hurt.  She reports about the break-ins and admits to seeing Goliath and another gargoyle leaving the doomed fortress.  When Goliath replies that they were merely taking back items stolen from Xanatos a few nights ago, Elisa proceeds to give him proof that nothing was stolen but the disks he and his clan took, which belong to the other company.  Xanatos has used the gargoyles to do his dirty work for him this whole time!

No, this does not make Goliath happy.  And an unhappy gargoyle, especially one of Goliath’s size and strength, is not a good thing.

Goliath returns to the castle in time to help his clan fend off an attack by robotic gargoyles built by Xanatos.  Programmed with the information from the stolen disks, the so called ‘Steel Clan’ is nevertheless trashed by the more adaptable gargoyles.

Xanatos then resorts to hand-held weapons.  Goliath receives yet another brutal betrayal when he sees his mate side with the villain.  This leads to an angry argument between the two.  Goliath’s mate finally reveals that she was in on the plan to sack Castle Wyvern in 994.  Though the Captain had said that he would protect the gargoyles while the Vikings were in the castle, she hadn’t trusted him and had spent the day elsewhere.  “I’ve stayed alive this long because I don’t trust anyone!” she tells Goliath.

She then proceeds to lay the blame for the gargoyle slaughter on Goliath because he didn’t take the entire clan with him to chase down the Vikings, instead leaving them behind to protect the humans.  Goliath responds that there are evil humans but also evil gargoyles; he tells her the massacre would never have happened if she and the Captain hadn’t betrayed the castle in the first place.

Finding she can’t turn Goliath, his former mate fires her RPG (she likes big guns) at him.  Goliath, though blinded by tears of pain, manages to dodge the shot but is knocked over.  His mate then points the RPG directly at him and tells him she was also named by humans.  “I am Demona,” she says as she pulls the trigger.

Her shot is sent awry, though, as Elisa slams into her to save Goliath, having arrived to help the clan fight Xanatos.  The wild missile streaks into a stone tower which tilts over in the direction of the two disoriented females.  Xanatos is knocked out by falling debris as the tower crashes onto the parapet, breaking it and sending Elisa and Demona falling.

Because Elisa cannot fly, Goliath swoops after her.  He manages to rescue her but cannot go after Demona, who is hammered by falling stones and continues to fall until she’s out of sight.

Yeah, unless I heard or saw her go splat, I wouldn’t buy that she was dead either.  Come to think of it, I wouldn’t be completely sure she was toast even after the splat.

But this is off topic.  Still wounded by this unexpected treachery, Goliath grabs Xanatos and threatens to drop him over the castle wall, too.  Elisa and Hudson turn him against the tempting idea by stating that if he drops Xanatos he’ll be no better than Demona.  Goliath relents and instead lets Elisa arrest the billionaire, who smiles smugly because he’ll be out of jail by dawn.

Speaking of which, the sun is about to rise at this point.  As the gargoyles prepare to sleep, Elisa and Goliath chat for a few minutes.  Goliath’s face is quite a picture when Elisa suggests that they could go and catch a Giants game the next night.  Goliath, of course, suspects she means real giants.  As he freezes in stone sleep Elisa muses to herself about whether or not New York is ready to have the gargoyles flying over it.  On this note, the episode concludes….and the series begins.

Okay, yeah, that was a little more than a short summing up of the introduction to Gargoyles.

Now I’ll tie up the loose ends.

While Gargoyles is an undeniably fascinating series, it does suffer somewhat from dark themes and plot arcs.  I find that these types of stories were prevalent in the ‘nineties as writers somehow decided upbeat stories were no longer the ‘trend.’

The series also ends up, in my opinion, overplaying its hand with both the magic characteristics of the gargoyles’ history and Xanatos’s wanton dabbling in scientific matters (he didn’t stop with robots but went so far as to clone Goliath as well as mutating four humans into humanoid cats with giant bat wings, one of which was Elisa’s younger brother Derek).  Though the magic aspect causes its own problems, the series’ dive into berserk science is equally heavy throughout the series’ three seasons.

Despite these darker viewpoints, the series’ exploration into the gargoyles as individuals makes it very intriguing.  The romantic hints that often showed up in situations with Elisa and Goliath were also a fun angle to the show.  In essence, one could argue, this odd romance was the driving theme behind the entire series.

All in all, I think it’s a real pity that the show was left with a cliff-hanger ending in the third season.  Although Gargoyles continued in comic book form for some time, in a decade where an animated TV series could run for years (witness the 90’s X-Men and Amazing Spider-Man shows, which each ran for about seven years), this series didn’t deserve such a brief send off.

If they ever decide to revive the show, I’d be happy to take a look at it.  Though I will add that I would hope they could drop the darker features of the original series.

What is tomorrow’s note about?  You don’t really expect me to tell you what I have in mind, do you, DiNozzo?

Well, all right.  One hint.  I may be talking about something related to Disney tomorrow.

Ah, that’s all you get!  Nothing else!  Nada! Zip!

Later,

Mithril