GVN Talking Comics Review: Mad Cave Studios ‘Nottingham: Kings Ransom,’ Issue 8 by David Hazan and Shane Connery Volk

Last Time on Nottingham

When last we left Nottingham: Kings Ransom, there had been a murder on board the ship that the Sheriff of Nottingham and Robin of Locksley had been sailing on. Given only 24 hours to solve the case, Everard Blackthorne found the culprit: A Saracen girl named Aya. The men wanted to kill her outright as stowaways were considered bad luck. However, the Sheriff would not allow that. so he was given the responsibility of watching her. Not exactly the best way to keep things moving toward delivering the ransom for King Richard. But in restrospect, that would be the least of their worries going forward.

Back in Nottingham, Marian and her remaining band of Merry Men were targeting the Nobles in the harshest way possible. Little John was concerned that the possible consequences of going after the rich and powerful might bring the heat upon them. Marian was aware of such possibilites. In fact, she encouraged them. No doubt some more schemes lay await for the uppercrust of Nottingham.

Back on Land

Now on land, Blackthorne and Locksley assume they have gotten a step ahead of King Phillip the II of France. By changing their plans, they should have the time to get to their destination and deliver the ransom. As they start to proceed,  Everard tells the Saracen girl to come with him. Hood’s man Harald still believes this is a mistake. Better to kill the girl and be done with it. This illicits a response from the Sheriff that Hood needed to muzzle his pet, before he did it for him. Not that it would be easy. Harald is a BIG MAN!

However, before they could even get under way, a volley of flaming arrows came flying their way. They tried to defend themselves but were at a severe disadvantage. Everard suggested that they retreat, leaving the silver for the King’s Ransom behind. They could not save Richard if they were killed that night. Robin was reluctant to lose the silver but he agreed with Blackthorne.

An Informer in Their Midst

After they had reached safety, they pondered how the French had located them so quickly. It was obvious that there was a spy in their midst. However, with their men being cut down in size,  it made the search for the informant easier. Not ideal mind you, but easier. Once again, Harald pointed the finger at the Saracen. But Everard was more concerned at the moment for their survival. With the silver gone, there was no way he and his men could return to England. They would be blamed and executed. The perfect scapegoats. Of course, that was why Blackthorne was chosen in the first place.

Their best course of action was to go as far away as they could. Robin considered this but agreed with Harald that they should be rid of the girl. Manacled as she was, she was slowing them down. Aya knew she would not make it alone. But what if she told them a way to save their King without the ransom?

Under the City of Rome

Needless to say, Robin, Harald and even Everard were skeptical of this but heard her out. She told them that her Templar husband and her had traveled to Rome, seeking the release from her husband’s vows. They were led underground in the city. Such a place is most likely where their King would be kept. Harald and Robin didn’t believe this for a minute. In truth, neither did Blackthorne necessarily…but it was the only choice they had. So they set off again.

Ferroting Out the Informant

Day after day, they were assailed by the French. Slowly losing men in the process. By the 7th day, Blackthorne knew they could not continue like they were. Someone in their dwindling group was still tipping off the French. They needed to find the culprit and put a stop to it. Before everyone was dead. With that in  mind, Evarard had an idea. He started going to the men, planting the idea that one of their compatriots was suspected and asked that they keep an eye on the person. In almost every case, the person given the responsibility to spy on the other agreed to do so, but explained that they did not believe it could possibly be their fellow guard. All but one person.

Revealing the Traitor (Depending on Your Point of View)

This individual first pointed the finger at the Saracen before agreeing to watch his target. Later on, he produced a bag of coins, saying that they belonged to the man he was given the task of watching. Everard accepted this, telling the men to gag him and string him up. Until they decided what to do with him. While the men slept, Blackthorne waked Robin, telling him to be silent as they walked away from camp. They found their informant, carving which direction they had planned to go into a tree.

The problem was, it was that BIG MAN that Everard had told Robin to Muzzle, and he was angry. Angry at Robin for placing himself and the other nobles above the common folk. For caring more about King Richard than the people they were supposed to be protecting. Blackthorne was no different in his eyes. Following the Nobles orders blindly instead of protecting the people. He took out this anger on both Robin and Blackthorne, but mostly on Robin. He intended to kill him when Aya appeared, wrapping her manacle chains around the big man’s neck and pulling back for all she was worth. Choking the life out of him. After retaking her dagger off of his body, she asked Everard and Robin to remove her shackles. She felt that she had earned that and besides, the French were upon them, They needed to go.

In Nottingham

Little John was telling the rest of the men what Marian had planned for their next assault. If everything went as planned, it would mark the end of the Nobles and the beginning of a new way of life. For them, and for all the people. That was the plan. Was it Marian’s true plan? Time would indeed tell.

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Once again, the best laid plans of Sheriff’s and Hood’s were rent assunder. The French were decimating their incursion force each stop along the way. While the possibility of rescuing King Richard seemed but a vaugue hope at this point. especially after losing the ransom. Writer David Hazan has given his crew a daunting task. But what fun would it be if everything was easy. No worries there. Hazan has littered their path with landmines. No lack of drama in this narrative. In fact, their path is so precarious that they are pretty much forced to rely on the Saracen girl Aya to have any chance of succeeding. Considering the mixed feeling’s of the remaining men in their entourage, Aya’s presence will likely continue to be a burr in Everard’s saddle. At least when dealing with his men.

After her introduction in Issue 7, Aya is a welcome edition to the Nottingham cast of characters. Beautifully realized by the deft artistic hand of Connery Volk. And perhaps depending on Aya’s situation, might be a suitable companion for Everard in the future. (That’s the romantic in me speaking aloud).  Provided he survives the coming days. But none of it will matter if he doesn’t recover Richard. At least as far as returning back to England. As for Robin, I wonder if he realizes that the opinion of Harald about his methods might not be an isolated one. Considering what’s going on in Nottingham, we know that it is not. In Hazan’s Nottingham, Robin might have a hard time returning to England as well. All of which makes for an intriguing storyline and questions still to be answered. Just another glorious day in Nottingham. Let’s bring on Issue 9.

Mad Cave Studio’s Nottingham: Kings Ransom Issue 8 hits stands on June 15th. Preorders are available now where all great comics are sold with the FOC (final order cutoff date) being May 23.