Outside of King Arthur and his Knights, there are few characters in English literary history more iconic than Robin Hood. A disgraced noble turned legendary outlaw and hero, Robin Hood has long captured the imagination of English speakers, and has had his story passed down in retelling after retelling since they first appeared in the 1400s.
Robin Hood’s story usually follows a fairly consistent pattern. Robin of Locksly, a noble soldier of King Richard the Lionhearted’s unsuccessful campaign in the Holy Land, returns to England to find his nation under the despotic grip of Prince John, the king’s brother. The Prince is frequently assisted in his attempts to subjugate the population with the help of the Sheriff of Nottingham, who in turn is usually assisted by the more physically threatening Sir Guy of Gisbourne. Together, these three terrorize the countryside in their mad quest to tax the population into abject poverty, while also scheming to seize power from the righteous Richard I.
When Robin discovers their treachery, he takes to the woods with a band of Merry Men, including the physically imposing Little John, the cocky young swordsman Will Scarlet, and the perpetually happy Friar Tuck. Together these men help Robin rob from the rich and give to the poor, as well as battle the Sheriff’s evil forces. Along the way Robin attempts to win the love of the beautiful Maid Marion, and overthrow Prince John. It’s an uplifting and heartwarming tale, and its messages of justice and equality still ring true to us today.
See, in many ways Robin Hood is the prototype for the modern superhero. Think about how many heroes fit this mold, a man of brilliance and economic means takes to the night in disguise to battle organized evil. Along the way he gathers a team of other heroes to join him in his fight. His enemy, known only by his title, is constantly thwarted, but rarely vanquished for any length of time.
Yep, Robin was a superhero. Heck, Batman’s sidekick Robin actually takes his name, and his costuming cues, from Robin and his Merry Men.
With this being the case, it’s no wonder that Hollywood has, time and time again, made an effort to bring Robin Hood to the screen. Since the late 1920’s there have been almost 30 different films, and over a dozen different TV series based on his adventures, not to mention a slew of animated features, reimaginings, parodies, and other Robin Hood adjacent or inspired materials.
All that being said, it has been a while since we have had a Robin Hood comic. Sure, characters like Batman and Green Arrow have definite ways Robin Hood roots, but there hasn’t really be a solid Robin Hood comic in decades.
And that takes us to today’s book, Nottingham from Mad Cave comics, a very different take on a classic tale.
Here’s the blurb: In this twisted medieval noir, the Sheriff of Nottingham hunts a serial killer with a penchant for tax collectors. The Sheriff’s investigation makes him the target of England’s most nefarious power-brokers. That’s to say nothing of the Merry Men, terrorists lurking amongst the trees of Sherwood, led by an enigma known only as “Hood.”
Nottingham comes to us from David Hazan, winner of Mad Cave’s 2019 New Creator Talent Search, along with artist Shane Connery Volk. Together, these two have woven a bloody, violent take on the Robin Hood myth that may be just the thing to bring Robin Hood back into the popular conscious.
Now, be warned, this is not a book for young readers. This book is bloody, and does not shy away from harsh language and outright murder. The story is told from the Sheriff’s point of view as he investigates the murders of tax collectors carried out by the “Merry Men” and their leader known only as the Hood.
Yep, this isn’t your father’s Robin Hood, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There is a lot of potential here, and I for one am eager to see where it goes.
So check out issue one this March and see if it’s for you. Until next time, stay safe!