The Grey Area provides reviews of comics that might push or flat out break the superhero line, but are still indie or self-published and, as such, are projects we'd like to cover. Because we wrote our own mission statement and we can, that's why. -The Editors by Don Aliff
Gargoyle by Moonlight has a familiar premise, perhaps borderline cliché; Gary Doyle is a normal man during the day but due to an unfortunate (albeit so far unexplained) curse he transforms into a bulky gray gargoyle by night who combats evil demons while concurrently searching for a cure for his affliction.
We've all seen that trope before in characters such as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, werewolves, the Hulk, Etrigan, etc., but unlike these characters mentioned, Gary Doyle is still the controlling consciousness behind his alter ego. So, Smart Hulk? Oh, he's also mentored by a spectral gypsy with a very hackneyed accent. (“D'ings could be vorse. A rampaging demigod could be destroying zee city all around you. Oh wait, one is.” Sounds more like she should be plotting against “moose and squirrel.”)
The first issue begins with a beautiful sequence of panels that set up the inevitable conflict, quickly tracing the history of the mystical mask of the Serpent King from it's involvement in ancient battles to becoming a humble museum exhibit. Gargoyle visits this same museum one night but is looking for an unrelated exhibit that may be the cure for his curse.
That's one striking thing about Doyle, he doesn't seem interested in playing the hero. He grudgingly accepts that duty on the prodding of his gypsy counterpart but he's primarily concerned about his own problem. He doesn't seek out the fights, but they apparently somehow find him. It's an interesting angle to be explored, especially if it turns out that that is definitely not in Gary Doyle's typical character. For example, what if he was a career criminal or something like that before his unfortunate transformation? Hard to say right now without all the information present.
The mask of the Serpent King gains sentience and unexpectedly possesses a member of the janitorial staff and attacks all who are near, including museum curator and archaeologist Dr. Chloe Anders. One quick note about her: she's no damsel in distress. It's always nice to see more strong female characters in comics. Gargoyle of course is forced to step in and save the day.
The story begins in media res, which is certainly a great literary device but I wonder if it was the best choice for the story. So far we know just about nothing about Gary. What did he do for a living before getting cursed? How/where was the curse? Who's this gypsy and where did she come from? Also due to his nightly transformations it turns out that Gary never sleeps. What a cool concept to explore, I hope they touch more upon that. Anyway, I'm sure these are all questions to be answered in subsequent issues but so far without all the context it makes this particular issue a little weak in some respects. Still though, an interesting start with beautiful art. I'd still explore more into it.
TL;DR: A promising if slightly flawed story, I would be interested in seeing it continue beyond this one-shot.
Gargoyle by Moonlight is a one-shot story by Timothy Bach (writer); Brian Atkins (penciler); Jeremiah Lambert (inker and letterer); Juan Romera (colorist). Self-published by Bach's Moonrise Comics, you can purchase the book both in print and digitally through his website.
A review PDF of Gargoyle by Moonlight was graciously provided to Spandexless by the creator.
Don Aliff graduated from Central Connecticut State University in 2010. Since then he has dubbed himself a Professional Dreamer. You can usually find him reading, writing, performing music all over Connecticut, or passed out in the corner somewhere. Ask him to tell you a story sometime.