Thursday, January 14, 2021

...Divided We Fall!


Judging by his most recent appearance in the PPC, you have to hand it to Paul Duval, the super-villain known as the Grey Gargoyle. Having already fought separately the big guns of the mighty Avengers--Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America--during his nefarious career, it's understandable that as he faces the assembled Avengers in this issue, he does so with not only an air of confidence and arrogance, but also with the expectation of their defeat at his stone hands. Even cover artist George Perez seems to know which way the wind is blowing on this one:

As we can see, both Iron Man and Daredevil (a timely-arrived ally in this struggle) have been early victims of the Gargoyle's stone touch and, unfortunately, will be out of this fight for the duration. But with the Falcon clobbered while the rest of his team are frozen in place gaping, it's clear that the Gargoyle is just getting warmed up!

Even with all of the training sessions we've seen the Avengers engage in over the years--many of them led by Captain America, a veteran at fighting, teamwork and strategy--what you're about to see is going to make it seem as if you're watching a group of rookies their first time at bat. To make matters worse, given their extensive library records of adversaries which they're required to commit to memory, files which include battles some of them have fought individually, every Avenger here is fully informed on the abilities of the Grey Gargoyle. But this will regrettably be one of the many instances where both foreknowledge and ingrained teamwork will be absent to such a degree that it's likely the Gargoyle will be left wondering if the Avengers' rep is all it's cracked up to be.

If you have the urge to applaud the Gargoyle right now instead of the Avengers, join the club.

So let's get this straight:

The Vision only recalls his power of intangibility after he's been defeated. Check.
The Scarlet Witch completely loses her composure and abandons her responsibilities to see to the Vision's safety, leaving herself vulnerable to a canny foe. Check.
The Beast doesn't try to intercept the Gargoyle before he decks Wanda. Check.
Captain America isn't savvy enough to realize the Gargoyle's strategy in using the Beast, or agile enough to dodge a person being hurled in his direction. Check.
The Wasp remains a stationary target even as the Gargoyle apparently has all the time in the world to leap, make a weapon of the awning above her, and--wait for it--explain to her how it's going to crush her and those she's with. Check.
Ms. Marvel falls for the oldest trick in the book: playing possum. Check.

If the Daily Bugle had a reporter and a photog on the scene here, so much the better--because the Avengers could do with a little front-page humiliation in the next edition.  Maybe something like this to tack onto the wall of their training room:

As for the Gargoyle, he heads to his old apartment to regroup but surprises and is surprised by its new tenant, Margot Neil, who becomes a captive audience as Duval recounts his origin story and how he returned from space following an encounter with Thor. Duval's graciousness comes to an end, however, when he finds that Margo has long since tossed out his hidden stock of chemicals--but fortunately, her captor has been followed by the one Avenger who kept his head in the game.

Frankly it's surprising that the Falcon didn't attempt to goad the Gargoyle into following him outside, increasing his odds in the open spaces as well as giving Ms. Neil a better chance of survival (while also making their fight more likely to attract the attention of eyewitnesses as well as the Avengers).

And speaking of Earth's mightiest rookies heroes, someone must have suddenly flipped the teamwork switch:

With Duval under wraps, the Avengers are finally able to conclude their federal hearing on securing their priority clearance with the National Security Council following the move on the part of Henry Peter Gyrich to withdraw that clearance. While there's nothing in the committee's final ruling (aside from spelling errors) regarding security upgrades, it's gratifying to know that a few of Gyrich's less terse recommendations have been acted upon in that respect--while the Avengers come away with the win that their autonomy will not be impacted to any measurable degree.

Obviously Gyrich and the committee never caught wind of Part 1 of the battle in Manhattan.

None of them have a Bugle subscription, do they?



Anonymous said...

Comicsfan - as regards your checklist, this is David Michelinie we're talking about, here. Compare when Captain America - with decades of combat experience - threw his shield at the Absorbing Man - so he, too, could become indestructible - in another Michelinie Avengers story. When Jim Shooter's genius first run passed to Michelinie, the difference was palpable. Nevertheless, Michelinie still did some good stuff - and the art was good, too - certainly when the Falcon steps up!


Big Murr said...

As you so ably point out, the story was weak to the point of anemic. It appears to be nothing but filler so the issue wouldn't be an 18 page court case.

The Grey Gargoyle certainly has (pardon me) stones. In a panel you don't display, Redwing tries to fly for help. Gargoyle turns the bird to stone and chortles, "He'll make a fine hood ornament on my presidential limousine!" Based purely on his own medusa power, he intends to take over the USA. No special gizmo or knowledge brought back from his travels in space. Just pure rocky chutzpah.

(I've never noticed until now that the Grey Gargoyle is spelled correctly! A subtle nod of some sort to Duval's non-American origins?)

Colin Jones said...

And the Grey in Jean Grey is also spelt correctly (?)...

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

Here's a question.

Let's say GG defeats the Avengers. They're all helpless, turned to stone. Obviously he could kill them all by smashing them into pieces but if he's wanting to be a bit nicer and just keep them in stony form, how does that work. Does he have to have an alarm set on his watch to ring every hour and go round touching them all? And does touching someone already in stony form reset the clock by an hour or does he have to wait for them to revert back to normal then touch them? It's going to be a full time job looking after his statue collection.

I think I'd just take them all up to the top of a building in stony form and throw them off. Keeping them alive isn’t worth the stress.

Anonymous said...

I always wondered why it was "Grey" too.
But surely referencing his national origins would make him la Gargouille Grise, non?


Comicsfan said...

Phillip, I agree with you about Shooter's run, and frankly I was expecting good things from Michelinie. When all was said and done, I felt his time on the book rated a "good," falling short of very good. That said, Michelinie will always get high points from me for his time on Invincible Iron Man, arguably one of the best runs of the series.

Murray, "chutzpah" indeed. I've always been drawn to the Gargoyle's sheer arrogance and ruthlessness--that, and his willingness to take on even the most formidable foe(s) as if his victory were a foregone conclusion. (Of course, that stone hand reaching toward his victim gives him a rather intimidating aspect, to say the least.)

dangermash, in a scene not pictured here, the Gargoyle indeed had the inclination to kill the Avengers while they were at his mercy--yet he refrained, claiming that there would be time for that when he had "less pressing matters to attend to... or, perhaps, when [he] became bored." A shame "Earth's mightiest heroes" weren't conscious to hear that their attacker couldn't be bothered to finish them off, putting their deaths on the back burner (if only for the time being).

sean and Colin, in his PPC profile you'll see that the Gargoyle is referred to throughout his appearance in Incredible Hulk as the Gray Gargoyle, which I thought was either an oversight or an attempt to shift his adjective to a less confusing description. But I have to hand it to original writer Stan Lee's instincts--the Grey Gargoyle tends to stand out more in a reader's mind, perhaps as much as this villain's form and power.

Anonymous said...

Kind of a deus ex machina ending here if all Wanda's gotta do is point at the Gargoyle and take him out. Hasn't that happened elsewhere, where she just puts a whammy on a villain and they go down?
Is there anything that "hex power" can't do?
Good issue, though, regardless. Like you guys have mentioned, the Gargoyle is a very nasty, arrogant, and experienced opponent. Maybe that's why I like his appearances.