Occupation: Police Detective 2nd Grade
Place of Employment: 23rd Precinct
Episode Premiere: “Awakening Part One”
Voiced By: Salli Richardson
Where do I start when it comes to describing Elisa Maza? I suppose the best place to begin is before the story’s actual beginning. You see dear readers, Elisa was originally designed to be Hispanic up until her voice actor was found and her character was redesigned to match her own distinct ethnicity of being half African-American and half Native American. Prior even to that, Elisa was originally conceived to be the reincarnation to Princess Katherine but that idea flew out the window so fast it’s a wonder that the sound barrier didn’t break completely as a result.
Elisa’s relationship with the Manhattan Clan had started out rather… uniquely to put it mildly. Investigating the cause of the rubble that had fallen from the castle as a result of a staged attack on the Manhattan Clan by Xanatos, Elisa inadvertently becomes a part of their lives by way of falling for Goliath.
And I mean that in the most literal sense of the phrase as his appearance, which had followed that of the gargoyle-beast Bronx, had forced Elisa back against and over the edge of the castle. She would have fallen to her death had Goliath not dove after her and caught her. Following this, Elisa ends up inspiring the Manhattan Clan in many ways, firstly in giving them the gumption to break typical gargoyle tradition and give themselves names.
In the eyes of the gargoyles, Elisa is a part of the clan though some are closer friends with her than others like Broadway who had adapted a strong sense of justice and low tolerance for weapons, particularly guns, because of an accident that had occurred between him and Elisa in the episode “Deadly Force.” Following another trip to a late-night western film, Broadway had dropped by for a visit to Elisa in her apartment and while she was busy cooking up dinner for the both of them, he caught sight of her gun and proceeded to play with it.
Despite being grievously injured to the point of nearly dying, Elisa holds no animosity towards Broadway and actually blamed herself for the whole thing, saying that she was at fault because of how she had left her weapon out in the open like she had. This episode was the true game-changer for me when I was younger. I mean, yes, there was actual blood in the opening sequence of events in the very first episode but it paled in comparison to the entirety of this episode.
We see Elisa sprawled on the ground with a pool of her own blood beneath her, we see the literal blood on Broadway’s claws after he drops her off at the hospital… Heck, we even see a startling accurate portrayal of a hospital emergency room and how it treats gunshot victims and when said victim suddenly has no pulse.
It was frightening and yet so damned exciting to see as a kid. Because even then, I knew that despite being a series of animated events, this was as real as life could get. For a long time before and a long time since, I’ve yet to see a work that was geared towards children, animated or otherwise, to go this far, to push the envelope of dramatic realism and downplaying to an audience “too young to comprehend.”
Yet, of all the episodes in the series, my favorite one of the bunch, and one that again heavily features Elisa Maza in its main plot, is the aptly named “The Mirror” wherein Demona manages to get ahold of Titania’s Mirror and, through it, one of the most powerful and willy fae in existence: Puck.
Though she initially demands that he remove her inherent gargoyle weakness of turning to stone in the day before changing her mind to ridding the world of humanity, Puck distracts her from this desire by showing her what her heart really wants and, inadvertently, one of the major obstacles to it.
Elisa being surprisingly affectionate with Goliath though, admittedly, this might have been a ploy by Puck. Either way, it worked in that she demanded of him that he rids the world of that human Elisa, to which the fae does exactly as she asked. The human Elisa Maza was no more.
The gargoyle Elisa Maza on the other claw…
What made this whole affair so amusing to watch, aside from the hilarity that was Goliath trying not to stick his foot into his mouth, was how more open Elisa was with how she felt towards Goliath thanks to the spell altering her memories into thinking that she had always been a gargoyle while the rest of the Manhattan Clan had been human up until that point.
It was nice to watch up until the end when the spell was reversed and Goliath and Elisa became all too aware of their, and the other’s, feelings. Then began the usual song and dance that is forever the tale of “beauty and the beast” insomuch that the two obviously, and at times quite blatantly, want to be together but don’t because of stupid societal stigmas and self-made doubts.
Of course, between the two of them, it was Elisa who proved to be the most stubborn when it came to admitting For all her strengths, Elisa is not entirely without her faults as proven firstly in the aforementioned “Deadly Force,” she is human and can make the same mistakes as any person would. However, her greatest fault can be her own selfishness when it comes to the Manhattan Clan as she refuses to admit/share the knowledge of their existence with anyone, even those whom she knows in her heart of hearts would never betray her trust.
Because of this, and so much more, Elisa Maza is one of the best police detectives in fiction, animated or otherwise. It is a crime in and of itself that hers is not a recognized name among the masses and I hope with all of my heart that Gargoyles will see a new return in the future, if only so that a new generation can be introduced to one of the best heroines, and star-crossed lovers, in the history of fiction.