Outlaw: The Legend of Robin Hood (Heroes & Heroines Graphic) by Tony Lee and Sam Hart
|Outlaw: The Legend of Robin Hood (Heroes & Heroines Graphic) by Tony Lee and Sam Hart|
|Genre: Graphic Novels|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A visually rich telling of the legend, which gives us more strong characters than just the titular hero. One graphic novel with a wide appeal, and many qualities.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 144||Date: June 2009|
|Publisher: Walker Books|
Here, Robin Hood is the Earl of Huntington, a man tempered by bitterness encountered as a youth, trained by skills honed with an apparent need for vengeance. He's out crusading, when he learns just the beginning of the story of what is wrong in Nottinghamshire. Returning, he meets John Little, and soon falls into the robbing/giving cycle we know and love him for.
As the afterword here says, there are many different Robin Hoods, but this one is a particularly good one. In fact all the characters are strongly defined here, and come across well - particularly Maid Marian, who can end up just a pretty face. There is a sense that the modern speech patterns they all share mean we lose some quality in how they are defined, but on the other hand I think it is one of the choices our author has made that help us have proper villains, and not pantomime baddies. I also found a lot in Friar Tuck's sunset scene later on.
If there is a slight problem with the people it is in the artwork. Most of it is done with a thick, painted line, and with the help of many medium shots, and moody colouring (however bright or hot the colours), you can still get to the climactic battle montage and not be sure who is who.
Apart from that the artwork is very good - we get lots of lush textures, everyone is in broad, active, but unforced and not unnatural poses. The forest is mostly a misty background - there is seldom more than one tree in frame, but this helps instill a spiritual, mystical home in Sherwood for the heroes. It never exactly stretches the genre of graphic novel - and in fact this is quite a wordy example - but it is one that balances very nicely between the fight-of-the-month action titles and the more literate ones.
This is an easy to read graphic novel, from the clear design, to helpful captions and sensible use of the scene cuts being at page and spread end. Here too it is very easy to like Robin - this is not, of course, a brand new story, but it is still very entertaining, and provides for an enjoyable and attractive hour. I have to recommend this for graphic novel collectors, those many fans of the legend, and even for the passing schools librarian. It is clear, but never forced down our throat, that this Hood was the hero the nasties both formed and deserved.
For this title's de luxe look, strong plot and characterisations, I have to give a high Bookbag rating.
I must thank the nice Walker people for my review copy.
More legends in graphic novel form are in Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon Hale, Dean Hale and Nathan Hale. And how can we not compare Robin Hood to modern day comic heroes, such as in Superman: Redemption by Kurt Busiek? For the plain text version of the above, try Hood by Stephen R Lawhead and its sequel.
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