Warning: Contains Spoilers
It is CSI Nottingham as Sheriff Ev Blackthorne and Captain Alan Dale are at the crime scene investigating the murder of Will Scarlet, a follower of the Hood and his band of Merry Men. In the last issue, Scarlet was murdered by the Hood as a way of keeping quiet about his whereabouts. “Nottingham no. 2” ends with an unraveling that leaves both us, and the Sheriff, speechless.
Blackthorne and Dale are in the dungeon where Scarlet’s body is lying in a bloody, gory mess. The crime scene triggers memories of the Crusades where he took part in a bloody battle in Arce, a city in Israel. The battle ended in a massacre of the Turks and their people. It is no secret that David Hazan had written Ev as being hardened by his experiences in the Crusades. In addition, it was those experiences that made him the brilliant and cunning detective that he is portrayed as in the comic.
The Sheriff is able to deduce that the murderer is left-handed and that someone at the castle let him in. His memory of the Crusades serves as a reference for the medieval detective since the crime scene is a reminder of the hell he went through during the war. After reading this scene, I wondered if Ev struggles with some form of post traumatic stress.
As I read the interrogation scene in the dungeon, I felt that Hazan composed a “good cop, bad cop” vibe with Dale portraying the former and Blackthorne portraying the latter. I was also amused when King John, a regular antagonist in the Robin Hood mythos, castiages the Sheriff for letting the only lead to the Hood and the Merry Men die inside his castle. King John is portrayed as a snarky and uptight politician or police chief who berates the cops for not doing their job properly.
My favorite scene in the comic was when Blackthorne and Dale interviewed the three castle guards who were at the scene of the crime. While dungeon guard Goodwin and the tower guard Allistair are seen as intimidated due to the questions being thrown at them, it is the keymaster Carl who does not seem phased by the imposing Blackthorne and Dale.
But toward the end of the issue, Hazan’s writing delivers a shocking twist when Carl tells Ev that it was Captain Dale who had changed the keymaster roster at the last minute and was originally supposed to be the keymaster that night. Carl’s testimony reveals that it was Captain Dale who had let the Hood in. Blackthorne gives chase to Dale and it ends with the latter beating the Sheriff and escaping. During the fight, Dale tells Blackthorne that if he is captured, the Hood will murder him like he did Scarlet.I feel that this revelation would make Ev question whom he should trust. Furthermore, I also think that it would make Ev suspect that the Merry Men are everywhere whether it is amongst the commoners, or within the walls of King John’s castle.
The illustration done by Shane Connery Volk, and the coloring done by Luca Ramano, continues to carry Hazan’s writing. The interrogation scene with Allistair is a testament to this. When Allistair describes the Hood as “a grinning demon cloaked and cowled,” there is a panel that shows the Hood as a dark spectre with glowing eyes emanating through his mask.Here, we learn that the mask is the face of the Merry Men. There is another panel that shows the Hood disappearing like a phantom through Sherwood Forest.
The Flashback to the Crusade battle in Arce is another example of how the art carries the story. As Blackthorne narrates the story, the panels project the narration. When Blackthorne recalls him and his fellow Crusaders flooding “the city like a wave of righteous steel,” we see them galvanized and ready to fight. And when he says “all hate and rage and fury,” we see the Sheriff and Crusaders viciously annihilating their adversaries.
The last scene of the flashback showed Blackthorne’s black eyes shedding tears at the sight post-battle massacre that he and the Crusaders carried out against the Turkish men, women and children.
After reading this issue, there are several questions I have. One, what was Alan’s motive for betraying Nottingham? Two, what is his connection to the Hood and the Merry Men? Three, as Blackthorne further investigates the murder and the mystery surrounding the Hood, will secrets about the Kingdom he has sworn to serve be revealed? And will those mysteries be unraveled as he looks back to his past?
“Nottingham no. 2” is available at your local comic book shop or wherever comics books are sold. You can also listen to my commentary on “Nottingham” on the Earth-16 Comics Wire Podcast.
“Nottingham no. 2”
Writer: David Hazan
Artist: Shane Connery Volk
Colorist: Luca Romano
Letterer: Joamette Gil
Synopsis: “A murder at the heart of the castle shakes Nottingham to its core. As the Sheriff and Captain of the Guard scramble to root out a traitor in their midst, more of Ev’s dark and tragic past is revealed.”