Oni Press 2016
Written by Robert Rodi
Illustrated by Jackie Lewis
Coloured by Marissa Louise
Lettered by Jon Cairns
Robert continues his story here with a closer look at the past. Scarlet’s arrival and questions have forced Robin to explain how things have come to be where they are. Robin’s relationship to King Richard and how Guy of Gisbourne had come have to such a loathing for him. It’s told here and while some parts read like a historical romance novel other parts read like a story of hatred and intolerance and the contrast and blending of the two are extremely well done.
I like how Guy is portrayed here and how far he’s willing to go to gain power. He’s definitely characterized well as a power hungry jealous loser of a man. Basically a weasel in its most true form so the way Robert is writing the past to portray why he and his men are now outlawed and living in the woods well it comes across with a nice clarity. Also the idea that a man like Robin who should live the life he leads is the target of such ire and hatred from him well that’s another aspect of this whole story.
Jackie and Marissa’s interiors also do a lot to tell the story here. From the whole look and feel of how the past story is told to the face, dark circles under Guy’s eyes, to the clothing they make it read visually like a tragic love story. The use of pages and panels through angles and perspective help that tragic kind of flow happen. The attention to detail we see is marvelous and that Richard is a hairy man or that they have those bloodstained clothes it all has this almost fantasy feel. Then there’s Scarlet who has that whole gender fluidity and transexual style and look which is very well done.
From the discovery Guy’s deeds to how he got away we get all the background information needed to understand why there is such animosity between them. Then there’s Scarlet’s love and what has become of him. Scarlet just can’t understand why the hatred is there and Robin does his best to try to make her understand. From the Sheriff and his evil ways and bond with Guy to the rounding up and murder of any of those men who favoured men which forced the men to the woods. It’s all laid out here only Scarlet is young and cannot see what is being told to her as many young ones are prone to being.
I do like the whole insert by Robert about the Queer History of England. Love that it feels like some old parchment or book from history. It feels a lot like that which happened but was glossed by or rewritten to fall in line with the church’s plans to eradicate such behavior. I think it has a colourful edge to it that could be read the right way and how these men were at the time trying to stay ambiguous. Kind of like the worst kept secrets of the age.
As it goes this really is a great re-imagining of the circumstances that led Robert to become Robin Hood. It’s very smartly written with great characterization, interaction and few unexpected twists that keep the plausible history making sense. It’s an extremely well done book that exceeds my expectations.