Good at Being Bad: Jeff Parker on Dark Reign: The Hood

Dark Reign: The Hood #1

The baddie business has been good for Parker Robbins, A.K.A. The Hood.

Marvel’s newest crime lord has had quite the good time in the past couple of years, and his meteoric rise to the top of the food chain of villainy has not showed any signs of slowing down. In May, the Hood’s activities under Norman Osborn’s leadership during the current Dark Reign storyline are going to be focused on in a new mini-series—Dark Reign: The Hood. Written by Jeff Parker, the new mini- reunites Kyle Hotz, co-creator of The Hood, with the character he made popular with Brian K. Vaughn in 2002. Essentially, this new project takes a look at Parker Robbins’ successful ascension to the top tier of villainy in the Marvel Universe as his influence grows…and his personal affairs become harder to manage.

With the first issue of the five issue miniseries hitting in late May, Newsarama contacted Jeff Parker to talk about his work on Dark Reign: The Hood—and to discuss what sort of man Parker Robbins is—underneath his mystical cowl.

Newsarama: Jeff, give readers some set-up for Dark Reign: The Hood. He's part of Norman Osborn's Cabal--but how loyal is a guy like Parker Robbins going to be?

Jeff Parker: Parker Robbins is always extremely Parker Robbins. For now, he sees the Cabal as an arrangement that makes sense; no matter how many of his Syndicate get thrown in jail, Osborn can have them out the next day. He may have to send some muscle out against someone bugging Norman, but he's got plenty at his disposal. No reason to break up this Five Families-style order just yet. That's not to say he doesn't care about people—his mom, girlfriend, daughter, his cousin (and gangster lieutenant John). But he wasn't brought up with anyone reinforcing ethics anywhere nearby.

NRAMA: Speaking of loyalty, Robbins also answers to Dormammu (sort of); does he see eye-to-eye with this demonic entity? Or is he just biding his time?

JP: No, while he likes the abilities Dormammu gives, he's as scared as anyone would be at sharing their body with a mysterious malevolent entity. Robbins knows that everyone has an agenda, and this thing is no different. And he can't imagine what the agenda would be.

Though from the other appearances The Hood comes off as a big heavy, when we get up close to look at him, we see that he's still trying to keep it all together with bigger sharks swimming around him like Norman Osborn and Dormammu.

NRAMA: How does Dark Reign: The Hood tie into Robbins' past as The Hood? He kind of went off the radar for a short time and when he came back--he was controlling quite a large part of the underworld of the Marvel Universe...

JP: In this series we get to see how his life has changed during this fast ascent, and how in some ways it's stayed the same. He's still got a mother suffering from Dementia and he still has a family life. One that's gotten more complicated as his child has been born, a little girl.

NRAMA: Robbins' is going to be in somewhat of a love triangle in this new mini; what's up with that?

JP: He's one of those guys that believes himself too complex for one woman to understand—which means he likes to sleep with people other than his baby momma Sara. In this case, it's the enigmatic Madame Masque. In the first issue you get some insight into why he wants to be with her in particular.

NRAMA: What do you think are some of the finer points of Parker Robbins' that makes him such a stand-out villain in the Marvel Universe?

JP: Like all the best villains, he doesn't see himself as a bad guy. He thinks it's necessary for him to do some bad things, but that it's not who he is. And what makes him appealing is that he's not that far removed from us—I think a lot of readers will see themselves in Robbins somewhere, for better or worse.

If you read the original series, you'll see that Parker Robbins is in many ways Peter Parker brought up in a completely different environment. His dad was a criminal, his mother unstable, he didn't have many opportunities to become anything other than a career criminal. The first adult he saw resembling a role model was Electro, of all people! So given all those bad breaks, we're really lucky he isn't a lot worse. I think when PR as a character is working best; we can all look at him and see a harsher way our own lives could have gone.

NRAMA: Are there other aspects of this character that you'd like to explore given some time?

JP: Yes, but as you'd imagine, it's not like every other assignment at that point. The Hood is half Kyle's baby and I was concerned that he wouldn't like my direction or feel; like I wasn't getting Parker Robbins right. Finally he let me off the hook after reading the script, happy that I picked up pretty directly from the original series. It was a big relief.

Kyle has picked right up without missing a beat, which I think is impressive. And he's added even more weapons in his art arsenal in the past few years- like he and Robbins have both climbed in their ability to kick ass!

NRAMA: You're working with Kyle Hotz on this new mini-series; were you excited to be working with one of the creators of the character?

JP: Kyle brought that up, and I certainly find it intriguing. Not every villain can sustain his or her own series, but I think The Hood is multi-faceted enough to do it. It's a neat idea anyway.

NRAMA: Do you think that Marvel could take enough interest in The Hood to give him his own monthly series?

JP: Kyle brought that up, and I certainly find it intriguing. Not every villain can sustain his or her own series, but I think The Hood is multi-faceted enough to do it. It's a neat idea anyway.

NRAMA: Are there any other villainous characters that you'd love to bring to the fore with the current Dark Reign cloud hovering over the Marvel heroes?

JP: Well, we do have Satana making an appearance in the series, she's someone I've wanted to write for a while.

NRAMA: Do you have any more upcoming projects that you can mention at the moment?

JP: Anything you wouldn't know about is still coming together and probably too amorphous to mention. At the moment I'm focusing hard on this, Exiles, and Agents of Atlas. Three really enjoyable books to write!

NRAMA: In your mind, is The Hood a true-blue, cold-blooded villain? Does Parker Robbins' have any redeemable qualities?

JP: Oh yeah, he isn't that far gone. He still has remorse over that cop he killed by accident in the first series. You saw in that brutal scene with Tigra in New Avengers he got sick afterwards. A lot of the heavy stuff he has to do, he isn't comfortable with. He thinks of himself as doing bad things out of necessity—to support his family, get his mother the treatment she needs, and so on. But of course, the more you do that kind of work, deal with people that way, the more used to it you get. He's easily on the path to become cold-blooded, we just have to see if anything can get him off that path.

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