The Great Ten: Gargoyles Characters

Okay, so not really: “great” implies that there’s some sort of objective thought behind this, when there really isn’t; still, I really like DC Comic’s “The Great Ten” mini-series* so I thought I’d give it a shout out.

But no, this is just a list of my favorite characters in the Gargoyles-verse, done so I could figure out who they were and so that y’all may have some idea of the though processes behind my stories and reviews.

10.  Fox Xanatos (neé Janine Renard)

Fox is the type of character I ought to love, in theory.  She’s hot, smart, ruthless–a femme fatale to the core, and the one person who can keep up with David Xanatos.  While If she’s not higher on that list, it’s because a) I feel that she isn’t used in this capacity enough–half the time she’s feels like simply a satellite character to Xanatos, and given that she only appears occasionally, her ass-kicking moments are few and far between, and b) more superficially, the animators tend to put her in some spectacularly unflattering looks.

9. The Weird Sisters: Phoebe, Seline, and Luna

“City of Stone” was one of my first episodes, so seeing these three appearing everywhere right of the bat being all mysterious was one of the things that told me, “okay, this is cool”.  While they didn’t quite live up to their potential–they are far less interesting as the Archmage’s minions than they are as manipulators in their own right–they’re characters I’d really love to see more of.

8. Elisa Maza

A splash of normalcy and light in a painting characterized by weird and grey, Elisa embodies all of the positive elements of what TV Tropes calls The Chick archetype.  She works insanely well in the world they’ve created and which she, in turn, makes work.   While I’d like to see more of her outside her relationship with the Gargoyles and her role as a policeman, I am always glad to see her.

7. Demona

While Demona isn’t my favorite villain in the series, there’s no questioning that she’s a damn good one.  She’s dangerous–she almost wipes out the planet’s population once–but not in a way that makes defeating her seem improbable or jeopardizes her coolness.  He’s cunning.  She has understandable and clear motives–you can understand where she comes from, even if you consider her a monster.  Plus, she has two advantages over characters like the Joker and Green Goblin: a) she’s consistent, since she hasn’t been pulled every which way by a series of writers with differing ideas on what she should be (at least outside fan fiction) and b) she’s female, which in a genre where Big Bads are overwhelmingly male makes her unique.

6. Goliath

Leaders, particularly competent ones, are usually accused of being boring–it’s the basis for the “Standardized Leader” trope described on TVTropes.  While Goliath is indeed a tad on the dry side, he’s far from uninteresting, and everything I want in a leading man: he’s sympathetic, capable without being perfect, and possesses the ability to learn from his mistakes–he even has a bit of a sense of humor.  The fact that we occasionally see him read helps.  While I don’t really believe he works without a dynamic supporting cast to complement him–part of my problem with the world tour was that its cast consisted of three “straight men”– he does an excellent job of unifying the cast.

5. Halcyon Renard

Halcyon makes the list for one simple reason: there’s simply no one quite like him. An old man made bitter by the inability of humanity to live up to his standards, who owns an airship?  Okay, you’ve got my atention.

4. Anton Sevarius

The mad scientist has been a staple of the superhero genre for decades, making it important for any newer iterations of the concept to stand out in some manner.  While Sevarius adheres to the standard in many ways, voice actor Tim Curry and the script imbue him with equal parts menace and fun, both of which makes him yet another stand out villain in a series filled with them.

3. Macbeth

He’s an immortal old man with a kick-ass look and sound (Gimli!), an awesome origin story and a mindset that allows him to be used believably in a variety of stories as both ally and antagonist.  How can he not be awesome?

2. Owen Burnett.

Like the cliche says, good help is hard to find.  In a medium filled with incompetent or comic-relief lackeys, Owen stands out for being just as badass (in his own way) as his boss.  Need some mocha, some files, or merely to discreetly dispose of an inconveniently dead Lithuanian prostitute?**  Owen’s your man.***

1. David Xanatos

Finally.  The big man.   Demona is a better Magneto; Xanatos is in a class all of his own.  Like I said with Goliath, learning from ones’ mistakes is a trait I value in protagonists, and seeing an antagonist apply that to himself–and use it to succeed, no less– blew my mind. What’s more, the traits that make Xanatos Xanatos are ones that have not yet been succefully duplicated in western animation (although he does have analogues in other media: see Lord Vetinari and Grand Admiral Thrawn, who embody many of the same characteristics), which means that his particular brand of awesome has held up incredibly well over the decade and a half since the show first aired. The fact that my first few episodes (“Vows”, “City of Stone”) also portrayed Xanatos at his most awesome also help.


* Really DC, cutting down the series from ten issues to nine?  You really do suck sometimes.

** Not that Xanatos would ever cavort with prostitutes, Lithuanian or otherwise.  He’d find 98% of them too uninteresting.

*** Apropos to nothing, I’m also fascinated the idea that he has a significant other that we haven’t met (at least I think that’s what Greg has said–somebody please tell me I have not imagined this)–what kind of person would he/she be?


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