COMMENTARY on REALM KNIGHTS #1
REALM KNIGHTS #1
Written by Pat Shand
Art by Butch Mapa
Colors by Kevin Volo
Letters by Jim Campbell
Published by Zenescope Entertainment
Okay, let’s state the obvious here. This is a #1 issue of a brand new series, so obviously it’s something completely new and it’s doing its own thing… but I make it clear from the first page that it’s as much a sequel to GOSTORM as UNLEASHED was. Part of using Neptune, Zeus, and Hades a lot is that I want to put them in big profile books so more people go back to read GODSTORM, but I also think these characters have so many more stories to tell.
Also, for the first time… we see Zeus, Neptune, and Hades’ father, Cronus.
Man, Hades loves “hell” puns.
While the true fun of REALM KNIGHTS is the superheroic action, grounding it all with the government background has been a blast. It gives the threats a more real world sense, which can often be lost when you’re writing a book that has Neptune, Robyn Hood, Captain Hood, Red Riding Hood, and Van Helsing walking around together. The blending of magic and real world, like the Stranger giving the glamoured file over here, helps keep this book from floating too high into fantasy land.
“Agent Fassett” is a shoutout to my former TA and current friend, Ryan Fassett. He is a fantastic writer and, mark my words – he’ll do big things in this industry.
I love Agent Cell’s dreadlocks.
Though we don’t flat out say who the Stranger is, check out the similarity in position and style to the last panel and the panel on Page One when Cronus is reaching to his scythe. Hm…
Part of the fun of REALM KNIGHTS is that I had to think up of very different scenarios for our scattered knights to be in when the government calls on them. Since Britney (Red Riding Hood) and Cross (Captain Hook) were members of the original team and were largely absent during the events of UNLEASHED, I liked the idea that they’d been consistently working as Realm Knights since then, which explains their absence from Sela’s life. They’ve been doing this for over a year now, so they’re actually adjusted and having fun with it.
We introduced the new Realm Knights liaison, in GRIMM FAIRY TALES #86. Her name is Jessica Ciampo – her last name is taken from a friend of mine, Victoria Ciampo. Her role in this miniseries is vastly expanded. Shang, on the other hand, has a limited role. He was very involved in the Realm Knights one-shot, but it just made sense after he spent a year imprisoned by the Being in UNLEASHED that he sit out the major tiffs and take more of an advisor role in this series.
Van Helsing’s house is a thing of beauty. I sometimes wish I rewrote this scene to have Ciampo seek out Helsing and Sela on a BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER-style graveyard mission, but seeing this house that Butch Mapa designed makes me pleased with my choice.
Gotta give a splash page reveal to Helsing, the most high profile addition to the Realm Knights.
God, forget the Victorian house… there is nothing I love more than how Sela is dressed here. I’ve been making an effort to develop these characters’ wardrobes beyond what we see in their costumes, because I think it helps us imagine that these are real people with real lives beyond the stories on the comic page.
Something I had to address immediately is that no matter the threat we create here, his power will be a joke compared to that of the Being. So how do we take care of that, and not make it seem like an anticlimax? I figured address it, crack a joke, and move on.
The unfortunate thing about the timing of REALM KNIGHTS #1 is that we’re seeing Robyn in jail… and we don’t see how she got there. Stay tuned to the remaining issues of ROBYN HOOD: WANTED. It could have lined up better, but it was either keep it as is and have Robyn for the whole series, or have her come in the last issue… and I thought it was important to have her around for the whole shebang. She’s, as far as I’m concerned, a definitive staple of the team at this point.
For two ladies that don’t get along, Robyn and Red sure as hell find each other together a lot.
This argument between Jessica and Shang was to establish two things. When Agent Aranda (named after my bud Brian Aranda), the late liaison from the original REALM KNIGHTS one-shot, promised Robyn a pardon in exchange for her compliance… he was acting totally on his own, without approval from his superiors. Shang knows that, but he doesn’t care – he’s bringing Robyn back on the team because he knows she’s valuable, and also to show Jessica that he is in charge of this, not her. Readers of the one-shot already know that the government isn’t trust-worthy, but this is the first time we’ve seen Shang act on his distrust of their higher ups.
I’d been chomping at the bit to get Robyn and Helsing in the same room together. They have mega chemistry. Sela thinks so too – look at her jealously mean-mugging in the last panel as Helsing and Robyn hit it off.
Robyn and Red continue to bump heads. That doesn’t stop folks on Tumblr from shipping them. The most common Robyn ships are Robyn/Will Scarlet and Robyn/Marian, but I’ve seen a few posts of people shipping Robyn and Red. Someone even called the ship “Red Robyn. Yummmm.”
Another friend reference. Michael Wisnowski, the high ranking agent from the original one-shot, is named after Steve Winowski, one of my best buddies. Steve is way less of a jerk than Wisnowski, though his hair isn’t nearly as suave.
There’s Robyn with her “Macguffin hunt” comment, calling me out on the genre tropes I’m using. I live for the meta.
I may fall back on this a lot, but I love the role call panels. Adds an epic feel to the team, I think.
Not all artists can make their characters act, but look at how Butch illustrates that iffy glance between Jessica and Wisnowski in the last panel. That says it all.
Hades is so Hamlet.
Annnnnd another hell pun. In actuality, though, Hades is one of my favorite characters to write. Right up there with Robyn, Helsing, the Being, and Will Scarlet. He’s devious and snide and he’s angry and just loaded with pathos. I refuse to call him a villain, but man he works as a sympathetic foil.
Thanks for reading. This issue came out last Wednesday, so head to the comic shop if you don’t already have it!
- Pat Shand, 8/27