Why I Like Coldsteel
8 January 2014 1 Comment
First there was Demona. And she was good.
Demona was bad. This was not good, since Demona had the distinction of being both the only female gargoyle, and the only gargoyle with an alignment that wasn’t “lawful good”. The problems with this are, I believe, obvious, and require no explanation.
Then came Desdemona and Iago, perhaps better known, respectively, as Coldfire and Coldsteel.
Iago is Gargoyles‘ second gargoyle villain. We first meet him as a memory, as Othello—resurrected in the twentieth century as Coldstone—reminisces of the time when Iago was attempting to convince him that Goliath was interested in Desdemona as a romantic partner—and frankly, that’s an accurate a synthesis of the guy as one can get. While Demona is a schemer, plotting genocide on a quarterly basis, Iago…stirs shit. He causes trouble for no reason other than his own gratification, like a winged Regina George.
And frankly, I love that. As someone who’s not a fan of gargoyles as a monolithically noble species, I appreciate when we get characters who break the mold. And I really appreciate that they’re not all antagonistic in the same way; you can not tell a story written for Demona with Coldsteel in her place. What’s more, the fact that Iago is closer to the “nuisance” end of the villain scale has the somewhat paradoxical effect of making Demona feel a bigger bad. Villains who are The Other Last of Their Kind tend to carry a certain weight of expectations—they often become The Villain, or at least become seen as more important–and seeing Iago subvert them means that Demona, by implication, isn’t Big Bad because she’s a gargoyle, but because she’s Demona. And that’s pretty cool.
However, just because Iago doesn’t want to kill humanity or make all the money doesn’t mean that he isn’t capable; in fact, he’s shown a rather remarkable ability to think on his feet when necessary. When he’s suddenly placed in Brooklyn’s body without explanation it takes him no time at all to figure the situation out and come up with a scheme to advance his interests. And in the best traditions of Gargoyles villains, even when he doesn’t succeed at his plans, he can occasionally find ways to keep his enemies from feeling as if they have won. By the end of “High Noon”, he’s successfully prevented Othello and Desdemona from deriving any sort of enjoyment from their resurrection. In “Possession”, he makes Othello and Desdemona realize that the former is the sort of gargoyle who would seriously consider destroying their fellow gargoyles’ souls if it means getting a body in the bargain.
Curiously (or perhaps inevitably, given the timing of his development) we never really get to see Iago strut his stuff. Even after he regains his autonomy in “Possession”, we only ever get to see him advancing other people’s plans, which makes it rather difficult to get a bead on his own. One could speculate, of course, but really, his story could go anywhere now. He’s a cyborg gargoyle without a clan, without resources, limited understanding of the world he inhabits (although he learns fast, as we’ve seen) without any real allies, and without any immediate needs. What does someone like that want? I want to find out.