I just got Robyn Hood #5. OMFG. There better be at least a #6. Nononononononono. It can’t just end like that. Uhg. Frustrated emotions!!!
Also, my boyfriend bought me Green Arrow and Black Canary #31: the Rise and Fall of Green Arrow. Uhmgfff…They don’t make beautiful comics like this anymore. (At least in my opinion).
Hi! Pat Shand, writer of Robyn Hood here. There is no #6. That is the end. All is lost. Cruel world!
…but there will be more one-shots and a Volume Three next year.
(Also, the REALM KNIGHTS miniseries featuring Robyn, Red Riding Hood, and others takes place about a month after ROBYN HOOD: WANTED #5.)
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
COMMENTARY on UNLEASHED PART FOUR
UNLEASHED PART FOUR (Grimm Universe #5)
Written by Pat Shand
Letters by Jim Campbell
Published by Zenescope Entertainment
- MAIN STORY
Art by Butch Mapa
Colors by Jason Embury
- “HAUNTED” BACK-UP STORY
Art by Ricardo Osnaya
Colors by Rohvel Yumul
UNLEASHED is a complicated beast. It’s an event with six series… one main UNLEASHED series that takes place in all of Zenescope Grimm Fairy Tales titles, and five tie-in spin-off series (Vampires: The Eternal, Werewolves: The Hunger, Demons: The Unseen, Zombies: The Cursed, and Hunters: The Shadowlands). When Raven and I were plotting this beast, we wanted to make sure that you could perfectly understand the UNLEASHED storyline no matter which of the tie-ins you read. You should be able to approach each book and get the whole story. While having read the entire crossover paints the biggest picture, each of the pieces should be clear – at least that’s what we attempted. I think, by the end of this all, we’ll have mostly pulled that off. That sort of extends to the beginning of this issue. The main story will be divided into two trades, with #0-3 in Volume One and #4-6 in Volume Two. I wanted to start this comic and just give a very fluid recap to what happened in the first three issues. Just the essentials… because we’re about to get into some pretty weird stuff.
The Keepers are interesting characters. Besides the Innocent, who appeared to Sela and Belinda in THE DREAM EATER SAGA, we’ve kept these characters mostly cloaked. Raven revealed that Love is actually Alice Liddle, and in the last installment of UNLEASHED, I revealed that Hate is Venus while also taking off the Maker’s hood. These characters are essentially the avatars for the word they represent – the sort of gods of the Grimm Universe. I was hesitant to bring back Venus after just killing her in Godstorm #4 this January, especially because I also resurrected Belinda in UNLEASHED, but I can’t think of a character more appropriate for the avatar of Hate than the fallen goddess of love. Plus, with no arms, she’s got the Venus de Milo thing going on, and that’s too cool not to use.
UNLEASHED is a story about faith, but we tried to keep it from getting too too religious. I edited this script twice after it went into production to make sure readers didn’t think we were saying “the Maker is, flat out, GOD.” He IS the Maker, and he is a creator of life, but as an agnostic, I didn’t think it was my place to give this overarching universe a be all end all god.
And here we are. The origin of the Being. We’ve been building toward this since the Greek gods first appeared, and now we’re getting to the meat of things. The Being’s motivation is still cloudy, but now we know where he came from.
A lot of people have been surprised at the outright emotion the Being has expressed. It’s ironic because he’s literally invading the world, allowing millions of people to die, but when he’s about to kill Heather Angelos in #1… he pauses and apologizes to her for what he has to do to her. A lot of that stems from this – when the Being tries his hand at creation and fails, you can see the rage and sorrow in his face. He’s been carrying that with him, stewing in it, and it’s come to define him. Look at that last panel. When the Being threatens to kill Sela in #1, he tells her that he’ll mourn her. He’s not lying.
(text blocked out)
Butch just nailed this page. The last sequence of panels, where the Maker lies to the Being, knowing what it means… the emotion on the faces is perfection. Such great storytelling.
The Being is every bit as powerful and intelligent as the Maker… so he catches on rather quickly. But it’s too late for him.
Here’s where we really explain the mythology of the Shadowlands. The Maker created this pocket of space to use as a prison, and sealed it with his blood – the blood of a god. He thought that only the Keepers would ever been seen as deities, but then the humans began to worship the Greeks… and it’s the power of that worship that elevated them to gods. So their souls now, to Zeus’s dismay, also function as keys to the Shadowlands.
I might do the montage splash page too much, but each artist has pulled it off so wonderful and brilliantly.
Also, though it’s a small panel, I can now say that Robyn appears in Unleashed! See if you can find her here.
The Keepers dialogue bubbles never have tails… but we’ve also never had such elongated scenes with them. I almost wanted to say give the bubbles tails so we know who is speaking, but letterer Jim Campbell did a wonderful job laying out the bubbles so we can tell who is saying what.
Here we explain a bit of the Keeper mythology I got into before, and answer the questions of how Venus and Alice are alive HERE… and how they helped created the Realms, if they died on Earth fairy recently. It’s a little bit of a cheat, but I think we’re safe – in bringing back Venus and Alice, we are giving Hate and Love some weight that could pay off the next time we see them. And Raven has been using Love in Wonderland, so I’m pumped to see where he takes that.
The Being has been keeping Shang in that chair for… if the timeline is right, over a YEAR now. He must need a shower at this point.
The Being’s connection to the Maker is so strong that he can sense the Maker on the planet. Be aware, though – the Maker and the Being are never in the same physical space in this issue.
When the Being tells the Maker that he has missed him for too long, when I was writing it, that was honesty. He wants to see his father as much as he wants to take his vengeance.
If the Innocent seems a bit bitter here, it’s not without reason. She’s been involving herself in the lives of Sela and the others in a bunch of different titles, attempting to help them, to save the world, while the Maker has just sat by. All the Maker did was raise Shang from the dead, hoping he’d guide Sela… but clearly, the Innocent doesn’t think that’s enough.
And now, we’re getting a bit X-Men-esque. The Maker has punged the Being into their shared mindspace, so their consciousness can duke it out. We had a lot of debate over this at the writer’s summit – I forget who, but someone thought it was a bit too unreal. I totally see that, but I think Butch was able to make it work and really sell the emotion of this war between these two beings that essentially share a spark that no other creature in creation has ever had.
Is it just me, or does the Maker look like a pissed off dad here? I think the Being just took his Corvette for a joy ride.
But really… can you die in a dream (space)?
My favorite stuff to write the Being say is when he’s just incredulous that people think he’s evil. It’s indicative of his warped sense of reality, but also his longterm plan… which won’t be revealed in this issue, of course.
I wanted to really tread the line here – the attacks that the Being is throwing at the Maker are as much creations of the Maker’s fears as they are the Being’s will. They are both mentally throwing everything at the other.
I may have teared up a bit when the Being screams at his father, “How could you do that to me?” It’s so human, and a little childish – at this point, we’re trying to subvert the idea of what a Grimm Universe villain is at every turn. He is not what you expect…
Wanted to make it clear, here, that the Maker isn’t dead. One draft of the previous page had his head explode, and even though it’s a vision, I thought it was too much. I made sure to have him speak a lot here, so he doesn’t appear to be even mortally wounded. His entire objective was to weaken the Being – but he does, indeed, have a role to play in the next issue.
PAGE TWENTY-TWO and TWENTY-THREE
One of my favorite shock endings. The Maker was distracting the Being so Sela, Belinda, Samantha, and the hunters could take him down with their best shot.
Bet no one saw that coming this early, huh?
Sela’s looking mighty evil in the ad for the next issue…
Might be the Angel fan in me, but I love the classic monster-chases-civilian opener. I’d been dying to write a Belinda solo series since the first time I wrote for Zenescope, and this short gave me a little taste of that.
Fun production story. The issue originally didn’t have this story at all. I’d intended this issue to be a shorter comic than the rest of the series, so we could price it at $3.99 and advertise it as a jumping on point. Everyone else thought, correctly, that the structure of UNLEASHED was a lot in the first place, and that keeping each of the main series priced similarly would work better. So I was tasked with creating a new short story… even though #4 leads directly into #5. So I wrote this little Belinda tale that takes place BEFORE the main action of this issue. It’s set back when Sela, Belinda, and Helsing were researching the Being in UNLEASHED #2. I think it works rather well as a fun little character driven capper to this mythos-building issue.
Belinda’s got this delicious guilt on her shoulders. It’s not like she’s a redeemed hero at this point. In the Grimm Universe timeline, she was out there killing people and ruining lives two, three years ago. The people she’s hurt and still around, and having her surrounded by them, having to live with that, is something this character will be facing every time I write her.
Belinda was always a fan favorite, and while UNLEASHED was absolutely the right place to bring her back, we also resurrected her in the middle of a series that introduces a giant new and exciting cast, and the buzz has really focused a lot on Helsing. I’d like to see some fan reaction to Belinda’s new role in the Grimm Universe.
Whoa, there’s a throwback. Who remembers the sorcerer Belinda worked for in THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE issue? That was centuries ago in the Grimm timeline, but it still haunts her.
As Belinda is being haunted by her victims here, all I can do is think, “Hey, that dude kinda looks like Roman.”
Been trying to get Baba Yaga into this series for a while. I originally had her show up in VAMPIRES: THE ETERNAL #2 instead of Masumi, but it didn’t feel organic so I cut it. As soon as I decided to focus this short on Belinda, I knew I had the perfect role for her. Question is, is she true friend or temptress? At this point, no one knows. I’m still waiting for Baba to whisper her secrets…
At this point, Belinda is now fully relying on Sela, her one time mortal enemy, to guide her on her path to redemption. That, readers… is a slippery slope.
-Pat Shand, 8/31
COMMENTARY on ROBYN HOOD: WANTED #3
Hey all. I’m going to be running a new feature here every Wednesday. Ever since seeing this done in IDW’s Angel series, I’ve always wanted to include commentary/writer’s notes in my trade paperbacks. It hasn’t happened yet, so I figured I’d start posting commentary on my comics on this blog, so folks looking for insight into the process can have a place to go.
ROBYN HOOD: WANTED #3
Written by Pat Shand
Art by Larry Watts
Colors by Nick Filardi
Letters by Jim Campbell
Published by Zenescope Entertainment
In the first Robyn Hood series, we had a lot of brief flashbacks to Robyn’s childhood. Since, at this point, we really know who Robyn is as a character, I’ve been doing that way less in the new series. It felt poignant, though, upon Robyn’s return to Myst to show how far away Robyn is from what she imagined that she’d be as a child. She doesn’t even remember it, but when she was in school, she wanted to be an “animal doctor.” Which is a) adorable and b) calls back to her love of horses.
PAGE TWO and THREE
I think this has been the first time I wrote a double page spread for Larry to draw. DPSs didn’t fit into the first series, because most of Robyn’s fights are hand-to-hand combat mixed with some arrow action. I feel that the magic in this scene really lends itself to the big, wide panels.
I feel like Robyn’s “You won’t” are the lines that have come to define the character’s voice. She takes Avella’s typical villain threat, “You’ll live to regret that!” and throws it back in her face.
Interesting note about Avella. Mercy Dante from THE INFERNO was originally supposed to play her part in this series. Larry even drew the final reveal page of the first series to show Mercy instead of Avella. The page came in when I was at the Zenescope office for the annual writing summit, and Ralph and I decided that the series didn’t have the time to explore how Gisbourne could have summoned Mercy or why she was working for him. I had a pretty cool reason, but a new character just fit the intended role better.
Colorist Nick Filardi makes all of the magic in the realm of Myst just POP. I do miss the look that we were establishing with the first two issues. Nick is such an arteest – Larry told me this story, that Nick said he was giving the realm of Myst and Earth a different aesthetic. Slight but noticeable. The Earth scenes were a bit duller, washed out, while Myst was super saturated, as if the magic of the realm was in every particle of being there. He REALLY brought it home in the scenes where Will was on Earth… because Will, being from Myst, remained bright and saturated in the dull world of Earth. That is why, to me, Nick is the definitive Robyn colorist. That extra level of give-a-shit.
I think this is the page where the subtle power shift between Gisbourne and Prince John becomes clear. It appears that Gisbourne is using the Dark Horde to intimidate John… but to what end?
Another fun Avella note – she was designed after my friend, actress Claudia Avellan.
Despite Larry Watts making all of the fight scenes beautiful, my favorite bit is how he draws Robyn and Will’s interaction. Will obviously cares deeply about Robyn, but he isn’t the kind of hero you’d expect to see in this realm. The strapping knight who will be perfectly chivalrous and protect the woman from battle… not Will. Will knows Robyn is stronger than he is, both as a warrior and a person, so when he tackles her out of the way of the blast, it isn’t jumping in front of her to sacrifice himself. He literally full body tackles her. And I also love that he doesn’t seem to have a problem with Avella calling him “Damsel.”
The little bows and hand gestures that Larry has Gisbourne do… perfection. If no one but Larry ever draws Robyn Hood again, I’ll be thrilled.
And the mystery deepens. This is the first time we see where Marian has been brought by Gisbourne… and there is blood all over. It doesn’t seem like she has any cuts, though.
Also, about Avella’s origin. I wanted to specifically tie her to Malec, the Dark One, so I’d have an easy way to use her in other titles, like GRIMM FAIRY TALES, if the story suited her. Hasn’t happened yet, but I’m looking forward to when it does.
Notice Marian’s crystals glowing in the center of the room… Gisbourne is clearly trying to lure the very powerful Avella into the room, near the crystals. And she instantly knows what he’s doing. We still won’t, for a while.
This page is the exact inverse of the scene when Will tackled Robyn to save her. In the first panel, Gisbourne could have easily knocked Prince John out of harms way, but he doesn’t even consider it. He just leaps out of the way of the blast himself. Then, later on, he continues his “Men are warriors, women are weak” thing he’s got going on. It’s a little on-the-nose for a story about Robyn’s empowerment, for sure – but it’s also playing with the idea that Gisbourne is desperately trying to cling onto his archaic and sexist idea of gender roles in the shadow of his defeat at Robyn’s hands last year. He thinks women can’t be worthy warriors… but he considers her the only warrior worthy enough to kill him, after she took his honor by sparing him.
Annnnnd we’re finally getting back to the opening scene of ROBYN HOOD #1. We know that Robyn’s parents were Dark Horde soldiers who were killed by Shang. Robyn doesn’t yet know of her evil origins, but she’s getting flashes, because the church in which they died has been the setting for the whole fight this issue. More on that in #4.
I think this may be the first time that Robyn hints at the idea that she respects and is fond of Will.
Nothing much to add here except the art in these emotional scenes is Larry at his strongest. It’s just two people talking… but it’s beautiful.
Finally, Robyn tells Will about her vengeful rampage on Earth. She tells Will what happened to her – and I think the fact that she’s choosing to tell him speaks as loudly as his decision to not judge, to not say everything is okay, to not respond, but just to listen to her.
And this, when Will’s feelings about Robyn become clear, is my favorite page of any Robyn Hood book I’ve done so far. By far. No dialogue, nothing. Just Will and Robyn.
Back to Gisbourne and Prince John. A big comment I got about the first series was how weak the villain was – and that kind of was the point. King John was not meant to be strong. The theme was that money can put weak men in positions of power by robbing the strength of those who are truly powerful. I loved that story, but this is a new one. And Gisbourne is powerful, deceitful, and manipulative – while we, the readers, can see here that he’s truly threatening the Prince, notice that he never outright says it. He’s still very much playing the part of the loyal knight.
PAGE TWENTY and TWENTY-ONE
You’re welcome, Larry. Another double page spread, this one revealing that Marian’s magic is being used to siphon power from Dark Horde monsters into some unseen being… who is missing his left eye. Most fans will recognize this guy even from the silhouette, but I love ending on the horrific image here and leaving the explanation for the next issue.
Thanks for reading. ROBYN HOOD: WANTED #3 is in stores right now!