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Robin Hood has been reinterpreted many times through the lens of pop culture, giving us everything from gritty historical dramas to musical romps starring cartoon foxes, but the legendary's outlaw's tale of robbing from the rich to give to the poor still persists. There's still something at the core of the Robin Hood legend that keeps new storytellers coming back, and that's how we got Rob, a new webcomic from Legendary Comics that takes Robin and his enemies and allies to a world unlike anything he's been part of before.
Written by Richard Dinnick (Thunderbirds Are Go!, Doctor Who: Myths and Legends) with art by Magda Price and Miguel Sepulveda, colors by Enrica Eren Angiolini, and letters by Tyler Smith, Rob remixes the Robin Hood story in part by transporting it to the far future, when the Earth has been stripped of many of its resources and many of the more prominent citizens have already set off on voyages to other worlds, creating a 'Ren-punk' aesthetic that blends modern technology with medieval weapons and power structures. In the wake of humanity's mass exodus, a new version of feudalism has emerged, and with the return of that system comes Rob, a young outlaw fighting for his people. As Rob begins, our hero is working to devote the villainous French Gauls via a daring sabotage mission, which goes horribly wrong and sends him on a quest for a mythic weapon that might not even exist anymore.
This inventive, action-packed new take on the Robin Hood story arrives next week on Webtoon, and today SYFY WIRE is pleased to present an exclusive preview of what you can expect from the series, along with commentary from Dinnick about how it all came together. Check out excerpts from Rob in the gallery below.
According to Dinnick, his fascination with Robin Hood originally came from watching classic takes on the character, including Errol Flynn's performance as Robin and the 1980s British TV series Robin of Sherwood. The story that would become Rob originally began there, as a historically grounded, perhaps more traditional take on the character. As the series developed, though, Dinnick saw ways he could evolve the legend to make it his own.
"We went through several iterations. We did look at the 'pure' historical and there is even a 'pilot' script for the first issue of that. But [Editor Robert Napton] and the Legendary team are great at eking the best out of a writer and they challenged me to make it a bit different," Dinnick explained. "We discussed mobile phones, but ultimately settled on radios. That one change had a huge knock on effect, like a tiny pebble thrown in a pond sending out waves that reverberate back and forth. I like everything to make sense. So, I had to rationalize why they would have radios. And the idea that came to me was that the Library at Alexandria was never destroyed and thus the Dark Ages never took place and humanity continued to develop.
"So far so good. The work began on this version of the story and we got a fair way into that before we decided it still wasn’t quite right, there was something missing. It was Nikita Kannekanti (Editor at Legendary Comics) who put her finger on it. The whole thing was – because of its historical setting – a bit 'whitewashed.' We had a couple of characters who were people of color, but it didn’t feel truly representative. This was before Black Panther came out and the likes of Bridgeton on Netflix cast black people in roles not normally associated with costume drama. So, kudos to Nikita! She was very prescient and very right that we should be inclusive. As soon as we said that, I immediately realized the sky was the limit and we could have anyone be anything."
So Rob became near-future story that features, among other things, a female knight named Sir Dido, a British Royal Family made up of people of color, airships in the sky and motorbikes on the ground, solar-powered vehicles, and so much more. Through it all, though, Dinnick also wanted to be sure that he kept the core idea of who Robin Hood is as a key to this narrative. Rob is a very different Robin Hood story, but the heart of the character remains.
"I wanted to make sure that the idea of Rob putting his neck on the line to save the 'little people' – not just the kings or dukes, or what have you -- that idea of taking from the rich to give to the poor is central and I really wanted to accentuate it," Dinnick said. "It is after all a very revolutionary idea! No other hero does that. Some outlaws take stuff, but they don’t do it for altruistic reasons. Think of all those heist movies. I’m not sure I can think of one where it turns out that the gifted criminals are desperate to share the wealth with the deprived and the homeless. We see Rob giving money away because he knows what it’s like to have none. He knows what it’s like to be deprived, homeless and alone. I think because in most versions he’s a lord, his actions are more that of a rich saviour. Here he’s not a lord. He’s had a tough upbringing and so he has got the best interests of people like him at heart and not just those who would probably be OK because of the wealth and position with or without his help."
Rob debuts its first three chapters Wednesday, Feb. 3 on Webtoon. New chapters will arrive every week, and the first season of the story will continue releasing installments through August.