Rob Worley talks "The Revenant"

Most people try not to mess with the local crime lords, but one mystical being will take his revenge on Sapphire City Mafiosos with a smile. In September, Desperado Publishing will release "The Revenant," a 112-page graphic novel written by Rob Worley from a concept by Shannon Eric Denton and Keith Giffen, illustrated by Mat Santolouco and colored by Chris Wood. CBR News caught up with Worley to discuss the project and its twisting path toward publication.

"'Revenant' is a superhero book filtered through the lens of slasher horror," Worley told CBR. "It's a story of revenge told from the perspective of a band of gangsters who have risen to power in Sapphire City. They're confronted by this gun-slinging ghost who is out murder each of them. They realize that he's someone from their past, who they wronged on Day of the Dead fifteen years earlier, who is now out to get revenge.

"At the center is a guy named Danny Risk. His nightclub is a haven for these crime lords to meet and do business. But we get a sense that there's more to Danny that first appears."

In addition to the superhero and slasher blend, there are also strong elements of pulp, noir, and supernatural horror in "The Revenant." "I think pulp crime and pulp horror have always gone hand in hand," the writer said. "Certainly characters like The Spider or Dr. Syn--or even Batman--have capitalized on the idea of a supernatural crime fighter who could truly strike terror into the hearts of the bad guys.

"Shannon and Keith saw the character more as a Shadow or Spider type," he continued. "When I took over I sort of recast the book as a horror story or a splatter story anyway. The Revenant is a very cruel character. He isn't content to simply stop the bad guys. He wants to kill them in a horrific manner, and taunt them while he's doing it."

Worley came on to the project at the request of longtime friends Shannon Eric Denton and Keith Giffen. "Keith has always given me great mentoring on my writing," Worley said, "and Shannon and I have been collaborating on a number of things over the past few years, including the Actionopolis kids book line. They had this webcomic called 'The Revenant' that they worked up into a film pitch, but Shannon was eager to see it realized in some medium sooner rather than later. He and Keith are busy with numerous projects each and Shannon knew I was a fan of 'The Revenant' so he asked me if I could write the comic. They had the mythology for the character worked out and a basic plot. My contribution was restructuring the story into an interesting spine and creating a lot of the villains. It's been great fun coming up with guys with names like Rocco Scissors, Hiroshima Jr., and Wrong Wei Hong and muscle crews like the Furies and the White Zodiac."

Originally slated for release as a three-issue miniseries from Image's Shadowline imprint, "The Revenant" will instead be published by Desperado as an original graphic novel. "I'm more and more a fan of the graphic novel format, mainly because I can't remember the stories I read a month earlier," Worley said. "'The Revenant' is pretty fast paced and having the entire story under one cover suits it better. Desperado was agreeable--eager even--to publish it as such. The shift has allowed us to expand the story, help it breath and flow a bit better. There are 20 additional story pages in the graphic novel that would not have been possible if we were constrained to a miniseries format."

As to what Worley is working on next, he's hinted there will be something coming out soon from the "big two" publishers, but that it was too early to make an announcement. "I've also written comics adaptations of three volumes of a very famous kids book series, but I can't name that either," he said.

"The Revenant" is on sale in September from Desperado Publishing.

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