Oni Press 2016
Written by Robert Rodi
Illustrated by Jackie Lewis
Coloured by Marissa Louise
Lettered by Jon Cairns
13th century England. Robert Godwinson, former lover of King Richard, lives with his band of Merry Men in Sherwood Forest, away from the watchful eye of Prince John, who has outlawed homosexuality. Though isolated, the men live in peace–that is, until a stranger approaches their camp asking for aid to a nearby town under siege by the Sheriff of Nottingham. Robert–nicknamed Robin–is reluctant to help, but equally eager to get rid of this perplexing stranger... and to put his formidable bow-and-arrow to use. It's Robin Hood like you've never seen him before, based on scholarly speculation about what's really behind the outlaw's legend.
What I liked about this issue is that it’s so far from campy as possible. I like that Robert is exploring the fact that with a change in the way the ruling class of England changes the way society behaves have forced this group of Merry Men to seek comfort in each other away from prying eyes. However what happens when you insulate yourself and others come to you for help? That’s what we have here and at first Scarlett was a bit of an enigma to me but then when the realization hit well it was a bit more impressive.
Alright I get why the narration boxes are in this font but for me it was more than a little annoying to read. If you aren’t used to this style then the way it reads can be somewhat confusing and that being said i’m surprised the spelling wasn’t also in Olde-English. If you are going to go there GO THERE.
I like the way this story is laid out yes in the beginning we see two of them are paired off and behaving like men who enjoy each others company do, no not in an erotic tone. That they are guys who happen to like guys without having to fall into a stereotype is delightful and should be a lesson for many people both in and out of the gay community. Scarlett shows us and talks of what has befallen the town she comes from and of her lover, whom as luck would have it is well known to Robin.
That the group must have a discussion about what to do next is nice, it shows while they follow Robin’s lead they are all equals. Robert does well giving them each the personality we know of and expands it in ways that fit not only this story but of their self-exilement from society. I also like that Robert acknowledges it was the intrusion of the Church and it’s laws that set them upon this path whereas the world prior same sex relations were never considered anything but normal affection and commonplace.
We also get a good look at why the Sheriff of Nottingham and Robin will be at odds. This issue has been not only a great set-up for the story but a great introduction to what also could have led the legend in the first place.
Jackie and Marissa do a nice job on the interiors here. I will admit that the town scenes are my favourites as they seem to be more detailed all around. Otherwise that it has this more innocent quality in regards to the individuals makes it interesting to me. They are men and they have some mannerisms that we find common but not so much it’s a nice way of showing men who like men in a light where you aren’t trying to be stereotypical.
Oni Press does a great job in offering different types of books from different viewpoints and not allowing for discrimination. This is for everyone not just the gay community as it serves to demonstrate that not everyone is the same or as you think they are.