Wagner Saddles Up for "Zorro Rides Again"

It's been a long time coming, but Zorro's back -- and more importantly, he's returning under the steady pen of veteran writer Matt Wagner. After an impressive run on Dynamite Entertainment's "Zorro" came to a close with an incredibly cliffhanger, the title took a brief hiatus as Wagner explored the origins of the Green Hornet during his first year as a crimefighter in "Green Hornet: Year One." Now, Wagner's ready, willing and able to pick up Zorro's saga right where he left off in "Zorro Rides Again," featuring art by Esteve Pols. "It feels great [to be back]," the writer told CBR News. "We always knew we were gonna continue this. The first season ended on a real cliffhanger, and the reason the book went on hiatus was because I was going to be part of that big Green Hornet launch that Dynamite did, which of course they wanted to do in a very timely fashion due to the recent release of the film. So, it was just important to get the whole run of Green Hornet done, but I always knew we'd be coming back [to Zorro]."

Wagner is on record declaring that his love for Zorro and Green Hornet stems from their pulp origins, with the writer describing their differences in the types of injustices they faced during their careers as heroes. "They're both pulp characters, and I love pulp characters," Wagner said. "I love it when a guy seems like he's a real guy. I love it when -- there's been so much deconstruction of heroism that I kind of like maintaining true heroism. These guys are true heroes. They're not tortured by a bunch of dark secrets. How they're different is that Green Hornet is fighting crime whereas Zorro is fighting corruption. Zorro is trying to overturn the existing political system. The Green Hornet is fighting criminals from within."

Readers who enjoyed Wagner's original run on "Zorro" should expect quite a few revelations stemming from the amazing cliffhanger moment that ended the previous installment, because this series is picking up right where the last one ended -- inside the cave after Zorro's father accidentally discovers it. "We ended on such a cliffhanger with Diego's father, Alejandro, stumbling into the cave," Wagner said. "That's obviously going to mean that he finds out his son is Zorro. Where we go from there is the crux of the next two storylines, which I'm writing and doing the cover art for."

While Wagner wasn't able to provide specific details on the upcoming series, he was able to reveal how he plans to explore Alejandro and Diego's father-son relationship during his first two storylines and how the knowledge of Zorro's identity will affect both characters. "I don't want to reveal too much, but obviously Alejandro is a character very much involved in a sense of honor and a sense of duty," Wagner said. "What is he going to think about the fact that his son has been hiding this from him all this time, and how is he going to feel about how he treated his son due to the fact that he fell for his son's masquerade so completely? Because Diego, of course, not only wears a mask as Zorro; he wears a mask as a persona when he's Don Diego, this foppish, lazy, unconcerned character who brings shame to his father's name and legacy."

"It's a complex thing, the relationship between fathers and sons," Wagner continued. "Especially a son who is trying to fulfill what he feels is his father's sense of honor and justice in his own fashion. Obviously, he felt that his father wasn't capable of doing this on his own, so what sort of dichotomy will that bring into their relationship?"

In addition to Diego and Alejandro, Wagner will be setting his sights on a few more cast members -- including a very real arch-nemesis for Zorro that goes beyond the mere faceless villainy of the Spanish army forces. "I will say that in the next two story arcs, we're introducing some really cool characters, one being Zorro's first supervillian!" Wagner said. "Not superpowered, but his first named supervillain character. It's a character that has a name, an alternate name like Zorro has an alternate name. It's all logical and makes sense. I've had a blast with this character; it all comes sort of naturally for me."

Although Zorro is also currently appearing in Dynamite's "Lone Ranger/Zorro: The Death of Zorro" written by Ande Parks, Wagner noted that his run on "Zorro Rides Again" is relatively self-contained and does not bridge the gap between the two series. "That's quite a bit in the future," Wagner said of "Death of Zorro." "Zorro's quite old. I really had nothing to do with that. They asked me if I wanted to write it and I said, 'Nah, I really don't. I'm writing Green Hornet right now, I'm too busy.' They asked if I liked the idea, and it sounded fine. I'm not really involved in that, though."

Wagner's run may not cover a large swath of Zorro's life, but he's very candid about the amount of story his two arcs will tell. "There are some big changes in store, but it's a relatively short amount of story time," he said. "The events in the second story take place very closely after the events of the first storyline, all of which take place after the events at the end of the former series."

Even though Wagner remained incredibly tight-lipped about specifics of the upcoming series, he was noticeably excited as we discussed his upcoming run, mentioning that Zorro's world was about to be shaken up in a big way. "The next two storylines are really exciting," he said. "There's another really cool character that's introduced in the second storyline that I really don't want to reveal too much about yet. These next two storylines are very adventurous and some major changes take place in Zorro's world."

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