My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I’m a sucker for all things Robin Hood so I when I saw this in the library’s graphic novel collection, I picked it up. In all honesty, this graphic novel doesn’t really add anything to the Robin Hood legend but then again, it doesn’t really have to. It doesn’t try to be a modern retelling or some sort of twist. It presents a very familiar story.
Perhaps the one thing that was unfamiliar was the prelude when Robin is a boy and he and his father, Patrick, meet up with a bandit who turns out to be a friend of his father fallen on hard times. Unfortunately, the bandit is captured, blinded and while in the dungeon, he makes Robin promise to never seek this life since the boy seems a bit enamored of it. Later Patrick kills the man to spare him the agony of hanging, causing a riff between father and son.
Much later, Robin, fighting in the Crusades with Will Scarlet and Friar Tuck, learns his father has died and he races home. Here the story takes a familiar turn. The Sheriff of Nottingham isn’t thrilled to see him back. Richard the Lionhearted is being held for ransom that Prince John is actively blocking. Robin goes outlaw, helps raise the money to send to Eleanor of Aquitaine (Richard and John’s mother) and of course, falls in love with Maid Marion, who in this is not a maid but the widow of the man Guy of Gisburn sent to kill Patrick Loxley. There’s the infamous archery tournament and we all know how it ends.
The most interesting thing was the two page afterword by a Robin expert. I knew, of course, that there were various accounts of Robin, many of which that conflicted. I even knew that Loxley appeared in Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe (most popular book of its day, boring as all get out but to be fair, I read this in high school. Maybe it bears rereading). What I didn’t know was the whole crusader thing was lifted from Scott’s book and was not attributed to Robin in the earlier texts and ballads.
It’s a decent retelling of the story. There were a few things that bothered me. The romance seemed rushed (then again that is often the case with Robin Hood stories). There is really no reason Marion should take these risks for Robin as laid out in the story but I can look past that. I had more trouble with the modern language. I don’t want to see them running around talking like refugees from a Renn fest but there were several turns of phrase that were more fitting for teens at the mall than Robin Hood. The biggest disappointment was how muddy the art was. I do mean muddy, lots of heavy brownish lines. It was very hard to tell the men apart in many cases barring Friar Tuck. It was worth checking out but as a hard cover graphic novel, I’m not sure I would spend the money on it.
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