Escapist Editorials

Escapist Editorials
Gargoyles: The Disney/Marvel Team-Up That Needs to Happen

Stew Shearer | 9 Mar 2015 19:00
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About a month ago I was walking through the electronics department of my local Walmart. As I usually do when I visit everyone's favorite evil big box retailer, I took a moment to peruse the store's movie section. It might sound silly when we live in the age of internet shopping and free two-day shipping, but there's something I still really enjoy about browsing through physical DVDs. Sometimes you just come across things you weren't expecting.

This was one of those days. As I looked over the displays, my eyes settled on a DVD box with a familiar winged humanoid adorning its cover. "Gargoyles: Season 2, Volume 2," it read. "No effing way," I said, more loudly than I meant to. Ignoring the perplexed look of a nearby sales clerk, I scooped up the DVDs and scrambled to the nearest checkout as if someone was going to steal them from me if I didn't buy them fast enough. I then took them home and, after my daughter went to sleep, settled in for a fresh binge viewing of my favorite childhood show.

For the uninitiated, Gargoyles was created by Disney and first aired back in 1994. Focused on a clutch of a time-displaced gargoyles, it followed their adventures after they awakened from a 1000-years of magic-induced sleep and find themselves trapped in a world and time they don't understand. Led by the noble Goliath, the show explored their struggle to find purpose and acceptance in a world dominated by a humanity that once betrayed and nearly destroyed them.

While this concept is pretty cool on its own, what made Gargoyles so memorable was the complex and mature way that it handled its storytelling. While the third season was so widely reviled that even Disney tends to disregard it, the majority of the (canon) show was spent developing an ever-evolving story that grew and changed with each episode. The heroes, the villains; nobody in Gargoyles ended the series as the same person they'd been when it began. Add in a carefully woven tapestry of plot points drawn from history, legend and mythology and you had a television series that was practically unparalleled in terms of narrative complexity. I'd personally go so far as to say that it's even better than other prominent cartoons of its era, including masterpieces like Batman: The Animated Series.

All of this in mind, as my most recent re-watch came to a close, I found myself inwardly uttering words that I'd said before and will undoubtedly say again. "There needs to be more of this."

It's a sentiment that will likely feel familiar to the show's many fans. While respected for its narrative accomplishments, Gargoyles only received modest ratings during its initial television run. As a result, it's a property that Disney hasn't exactly dedicated much effort to keeping alive. Even just getting the first two full seasons released on DVD was a process that took nearly a decade. The idea, in turn, that the company would invest time and money into continuing it falls very much on the ugly end of unlikely.

Which isn't to say that it never tried, of course. In 2006, the House of Mouse teamed up with the small publisher Slave Labor Graphics to produce a comic book continuation of the television series. With show creator Greg Weisman handling the writing, it ignored the third season and picked up where the second one had left off. Sadly, while many consider the SLG comic series to be the true successor to Gargoyles season two, it suffered from an erratic publication schedule that hurt sales and eventually led it closing after a relatively short run. Talking about their work on Gargoyles, SLG "Supreme Commander" Dan Vado said that the company just didn't have the tools it needed to do the job properly. "SLG was not really ready to do a Disney license," he told The Escapist. "We were just too small and understaffed and under-financed to take on such a big license."

The thing is, there are other comic publishers that wouldn't have that kind of problem. Marvel Comics, for instance, in addition to being owned by Disney, has a pool of writers, artists and money that could make a regular Gargoyles series far more viable than it was in the hands of a smaller company. And, honestly, the more I find myself thinking about it, the more I'm convinced that a new Gargoyles comic book is exactly what we need.

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