(W) Joe Brusha (CA) Igor Vitorino In Shops: Nov 23, 2022 SRP: $5.99
Deep below, in the New York subway tunnels, something is feeding in secret off the flesh of the city’s lost souls. Fighting to save herself and a handful of passengers after a train accident, Robyn finds herself trapped underground and in the creature’s deadly path. Can she save everyone before the killer in the shadows gets them first?
Divine Statues has signed a licensing agreement with Zenescope to produce a line of 1/4 scale statues based on the comic book and graphic novel publisher’s extensive line of highly popular characters. The first statue in the series will be Zenescope’s iconic female archer, Robyn Hood, with a planned release in late 2023.
Future statues will include other major Zenescope characters such as Liesel Van Helsing, the legendary vampire hunter, and Zenescope’s Cinderella: Serial Killer Princess. Zenescope and Divine expect to produce a minimum of five statues over the next three years.
Writer: Joe Brusha Art: Julius Abrera, Sergio Arino Color: Robby Bevard Letters: Taylor Esposito Cover A: Igor Vitorino / Ivan Nunes Cover B: Guillermo Fajardo Cover C: Ivan Tao Cover D: Pierluigi Abbondanza
Robyn’s true past and her ties to the Children of Darkness have always been a mystery to her. But now, as she tries to help Mystere and Talisman escape their own darkness, some of her past secrets will finally be revealed.
Robyn has finally taken down the monsters and villains that have plagued New York for far too long. Now, with the streets safe again, Robyn unfortunately isn’t going to get to enjoy them.
After being transported to an otherworldly, high tech, maximum security prison, she must fight for her life from some of the very creatures she has placed there. Will she survive with enough of herself intact to get back to the city she calls home? Find out, in Robyn Hood: The Hunt!
It seems even heroism has a price these days. Robyn’s life goes from being a hero to being a prisoner. A prison filled with old foes, and a strange potential ally. Even as Robyn’s very life is at stake, as things go from bad to worse. Will she escape alive? Who runs this strange prison?
The art is clean and possesses a nice sense of flow throughout the action sequences. Even the prison is oddly bright, almost sci-fi in design. Yet there is a sense of uniformity in the prison (spandex looking) clothes. Even the guards all look relatively the same.
Zenescope Entertainment has announced that TV Writer and Producer LaToya Morgan will be handling writing duties for Zenescope’s newest Robyn Hood six issue mini-series entitled Robyn Hood: The Hunt with Salvatore Cuffari providing artwork for the series. This comes on the heels of the announcement that Bane creator Chuck Dixon will be penning Zenescope’s upcoming Van Helsing Vs. The Werewolf mini-series.
Robyn Hood: The Hunt is the latest installment of Zenescope’s modern day re-imagining of the centuries-old Robin Hood folklore. The Hunt follows protagonist Robyn Locksley as she’s transported to an otherworldly high-tech maximum security prison. There she must fight for her life against some of the very beings she has placed inside the prison while also attempting to stop a terrifying new evil.
Zenescope Entertainment has partnered with Director/Producer Jack Heller and his newly formed Assemble Media, to bring some of the company’s most beloved titles to film, TV, and the ever-growing new media landscape. Heller joined Zenescope founders Joe Brusha and Ralph Tedesco at Zenescope’s New York Comic Con panel where they gave the crowd a sneak peek at their first collaboration, a short film based on the company’s best selling comic book Robyn Hood.
The short, directed by Jack Heller, stars Banshee’s Lili Simmons in the title role and will be available via the Zenescope website, Popboom.com, and across multiple social media platforms.
In addition to working on a live action feature film of Robyn Hood, Brusha, Tedesco & Heller have begun development on another of Zenescope’s best selling titles, the anthology Horror series, Grimm Tales of Terror. Like Robyn Hood, they plan to develop Tales of Terror while simultaneously producing digital content around the project.
Zenescope Entertainment is currently in various stages of development on multiple film and TV projects based on their best selling comic book series, including Syfy channel’s newest show Van Helsing.
Zenescope’s third monthly series has been at times one which requires some patience to read. Although it has exhibited some signs of fulfilling some of its underlying potential, it has too often reverted to its previous performance by providing issues that are full of concept bu short of execution. The previous two issues seemed to have signaled a change in direction for this series, as both issues managed to carry a better story without losing touch with the characters that make the series compelling. The previous two stories were standalones, and featured stories which were a bit further off the script of the usual for the series. With the return to the usual format it remained to be seen exactly if the series had in fact made the jump to something better.
The story focuses not only on Robyn and Marian this time, but also on Liesel. Since being introduced she is an underutilized character, probably second only to Britney Waters at Grimm Fairy Tales as a character that needs more panel time. She is in town, and it happens to coincide with a supernatural serial killer making his mark on social media. Although the setup would tend towards more of a mystery, it ends up in another bloodbath battle for the characters, which Liesel even alludes to as what should be expected, both in the story for the characters and for the readers. Meanwhile Marian is dabbling in some risky magic to try to return herself to full strength.
It is perhaps not as bad as some of the stories that have come before, but this issue still represents a step back for the characters and the overall tone of the series. The previous issues show what this series could be, but this issue shows mostly what is has been, a decent series at times, but also one that has never really escaped the realm of being average. There is still some way to go with this series, and hopefully the creative team figures it out, because the characters do have a strong fanbase. In the meantime, readers have to be happy enough with stories such as this one, entertaining at times, but not much else.
Story: Patrick Shand Art: Roberta Ingranata Story: 6.6 Art: 6.6 Overall: 6.6 Recommendation: Pass
Although this series is a fan favorite, it is also one which has often seemed to take the easy way out in terms of its story telling. It often relies on a sequence of one liners and fairly generic supernatural bad guys. Beneath it all are two main characters who have the potential to be a lot deeper but for whom that attention is rarely given. It has happened a little bit as Robyn has opened up to her therapist, or as Marian has opened up to her girlfriend, but mostly this series has been one full of unrealized potential as it focuses more on the gore of the supernatural than it does on the characters themselves. Although there have been glimpses before, the series has generally followed them with other poorer examples to follow, and the level of consistency in this series is thus hard to grasp, as it verges on something better, but never attains it.
If there is an issue where they might break from this trend, then this might be it. Robyn and Marian are confronted at the beginning of the issue by the Rotter, the somewhat zombie like character that has been helping them out. As they soon discover, his help was not completely altruistic, instead he is looking for help in return. He has been cursed to live but to slowly rot away, and he simply wants the easy release of death after suffering for so long. Instead of big scale, Robyn and Marian focus on small scale and it works well for them here as they are able to show their ingenuity as they hunt down reasons for what may have caused this curse.
What ends up following is what is by far the best issue in this series thus far. Although there are still a few staples of what has made this series falter at times, they are mostly shuffled to the side as the first truly good story is told in this series, one which focuses on the characters first and the concept second, even when the concept is strong enough as well. It may not have proven itself with just one issue, but the series seems to be on its way, a gamble from Zenescope which seems finally ready to pay off.
Story: Patrick Shand Art: Roberta Ingranata Story: 8.6 Art: 8.6 Overall: 8.6 Recommendation: Buy
Editors are the unsung masterminds of the comic industry, bringing together multiple talented artists and creators to produce a single finished product. Nicole Glade is one such editor, who has been working behind the scenes at Zenescope for a few years on various titles. She thus has an interesting insight into the inner workings of a comic company and she joined us to share her thoughts on fairy tales, swimsuits and the changing demographic of comic readers.
Graphic Policy: It is not very often that we get to talk to an editor as opposed to writers and artists, so can you start by telling us a little about what you do for any random issue?
Nicole Glade: Very true, and I appreciate the recognition! As lead editor, I oversee projects from concept to completion. I act as a bridge between all the creative personalities and make sure everyone is both accurate and on pace to get the project done in time for print. I even get a hand in the creative aspect, because I may have an idea that I suggest to the writer or one of the artists.
GP: Are there any particular issues or stories that you worked on which surprised you for how they turned out?
NG: I suppose the biggest surprise for me would be Grimm Fairy Tales. GFT has been a mature title for a long time, but 101 changed all that and became Young Adult. It made a lot of sense, given that it now has several young adult characters. While I’ve read plenty of YA that I enjoy, it’s not my go-to genre. That said, I have really, really enjoyed each issue. I love the students and it’s been so much fun to watch their characters come to life.
GP: You have said that you are interested in making comics more inclusive towards everyone, especially female readers. On the one hand there seems to be somewhat of a shift underway, but on the other there still seems to be some distance to go. What do you think is the most important change needed in the medium to make this possible?
NG: Widening the audience is a huge personal goal, yes. I think a lot of creators are on board and taking steps to make this happen. It really seems to me that it’s the higher-ups who need to catch up. I see publishers at least acknowledge that they’d like to create comics that speak to a larger readership. However, they’re still not able to directly point out titles that meet that goal, or the titles they can name are few and far between. It’s definitely time to stop making promises and actually get to work.
GP: Fairy tales in comics have a strange history in the medium. They started off as common staples in the early years of and then all but disappeared until recently. What do you make of their relatively recent comeback?
NG: I think fairy tales are never going to truly go away. There’s clearly something timeless about them that we love to explore time and again through various mediums. Perhaps it’s the morals they tell, or how the darker aspects shine a light on the most basic parts of being human.
GP: As an editor you get to work on a lot of different titles at Zenescope, and have had a hand in practically every Zenescope property at one time, from Wonderland to Neverland and from Oz to the Jungle Book. Does doing so give you a new outlook on any particular characters or settings?
NG: I oversee over half of Zenescope’s titles. It can be a bit of a handful to manage, but I really enjoy seeing how it all connects. Readers generally won’t miss out on anything if they prefer to stick to one, but there are always little easter eggs lurking in the background that allude to other titles.
GP: Did you find yourself liking any specific characters more after being exposed to all of them?
NG: I can’t think of a character I don’t like the more I get to know them through editing a title they’re starring in. Cindy in particular stands out. When I first read her, she was a side character and I found her really annoying. But then I edited the Cinderella Age of Darkness miniseries. Pat Shand managed to write her in a really funny way and suddenly I saw her in a whole new light. It also helped that the art team did a fantastic job as well.
GP: Is there any specific series or characters that stand out to you as being the best that the company has to offer? On that same note, is there any specific character that you would think needs to be put in a little bit of a different direction so as to better use their potential?
NG: Robyn is easily a fan favorite. Pat has given her such a distinct voice that it’s hard not to fall in love with her. Personally, I love Baba Yaga. I’ve always had a soft spot for antiheroes and she’s constantly in this morally grey space.
As for characters that I’d like to see more of, definitely Adraste. She certainly stands out in Oz, but the spotlight is still on Dorothy. When she got her one-shot in Tales from Oz, she had to share it with Glinda. I’d love to see her with her own a miniseries in the future.
GP: You have edited the swimsuit editions for Grimm Fairy Tales, and as they come our every second year, there won’t be one this summer, but how do you go about choosing themes for the selection? How do you choose the (sometimes fictional) locales?
NG: Dave definitely did most of the work when it came to concepts. He didn’t want to reuse a lot of covers, so he focused on coming up with about 30 unique and new concepts. He basically just made a list of the various realms and characters, then combined them. He also threw in a few real locations because who doesn’t like seeing beloved fictional characters in the real world? Once the list was complete, he turned it over to me. I spoke with each artist and asked what character they wanted to draw, then I tried to match them.
GP: It seems that a lot of the variant covers for Grimm Fairy Tales often have the main characters in swimsuits. Is this kind of planned out to get a better field to choose from for the special?
NG: Like I said, Dave came up with totally new concepts to avoid reusing covers. Having so many bikini covers in order to compile them into the Swimsuit Special may have been the original line of thinking, but we’d like to create more content now. Fans deserve fresh material if they’re paying for the issue.
GP: Zenescope is putting on a big show this summer for its ten year anniversary, but where do you think that they will be in ten years?
NG: This year is definitely a major milestone for Zenescope and we’re all very proud to have made it to this point. What I’d really like to see for the company is less of a reliance on covers. That’s all well and good for the collectors and it certainly helped Zenescope during its early years, but it’s definitely time to let our interiors speak for themselves. This does not mean doing away with the flashier variants, but I think the interiors deserve an equal amount of attention.
Among all of the comic book publishers it is Zenescope that seems to be the most aware inside its own universe of the existence of comic book conventions. While comics about comics have occurred since well over five decades (it was a comic about a comic that launched the DC multiverse in the 1960s) there have always been a bit of a mismatch. After all superhero comics are about the superhero world which is otherwise unattainable, and it would remain to be seen if such stories would even be necessary in such a world where people could just turn on the news for what is fantastic and extraordinary. It is specifically comic book conventions that Zenescope has interest in though, and often to match up with the the convention season in summer time, specifically the one in San Diego.
This backdrop forms the basis for this issue, a one shot story mostly set aside from the ongoing story in this series. Robyn and Marian are hired to find a hammer which is cursed, but which is also a family heirloom. The owner of the hammer wanted to rid himself of the curse by selling it, but in having done so he finds that it has not worked. He is still cursed but no longer has the hammer and wants it back. The problem is that the hammer is in the hands of a dealer that wants to sell it at a comic con, and that means that Robyn and Marian have to attend to buy it. There are other parties interested as well, specifically a group of wolfmen that want the hammer back after it had been taken from them many centuries previous, and so reacquiring the hammer is not as easy, instead Robyn has to fight her way past the wolfpack.
There are a couple of cute moments here, but mostly this issue falls a little short. It is only when the issue actually acknowledges that it is a bit too meta that it succeeds. This is over a spread page where Marian chooses her costume for the comic con, the choosing and the choice of being the highlight of this particular issue. As always with this series, it seems as though all the pieces are there, only that they are not balanced correctly, and so this still remains Zenescope’s weakest monthly title.
Story: Patrick Shand Art: Roberta Ingranata Story: 6.3 Art: 7.5 Overall: 6.3 Recommendation: Pass