REVIEW: Robyn Hood Annual 2016

The popular gender switch book from fairy tales-to-horror publisher Zenescope receives the annual treatment, which is a great tactic in order to keep the character in the  minds of fans, especially as her adventures are covered in mini series format, rather than an ongoing run.

It is a time of change in Robyn’s life.  Following  a number of adventures, her partner in crime, Marian Quin is preparing to marry the love of her life.  With all the two have gone through together, how will this change affect their relationship as Robyn faces the prospect of being alone?

I had very low expectations regarding this book.  I am not sure why, but this iteration of Robin Hood never really appealed to me.  Could it be that, despite the logic of bows and arrows going up against sorcery, the idea in execution feels a little out of sync.  Or is it the need to co-opt the cast of the Robin Hood fables into this new version that causes the dislike?  It could be that the interior art doesn’t, in most cases, match the quality of art on the cover.

All that said, Pat Shand can write female characters fantastically well and this issue is fine example of that.  With elements that remind me of Buffy, Shand manages to humanize Robyn who faces a challenge that she can not overcome by firing arrows at it.  The dialogue in the book works well, showing the various emotions of Robyn and Marian, the latter making the choices impacting the pair.  Where the story does wane, is surprisingly the inclusion of the zombies.  I understand that action comics need the obligatory action scene but I would have rather read more about the pair in question and hear their doubts and confidences in  things said and unsaid.  Still, with the main focus of this issue being about loss, the zombies at least present Robyn another variation of that theme.

It’s fair to say that Larry Watts is the artist when it comes to Robyn Hood.  After reading quite a few Zenescope books now, I expect the disconnect in styles between cover and interior, so I am not going to hold that against Watts.  The line work meets the standard of the “house style” that I have bemoaned at times, although the action scenes work a lot better in both pacing and camera placement than I have seen previously.  The quieter points in the story are a mixed bag, but thankfully, Watts puts in the effort giving the conclusion that both Robyn and Marian deserve.  One other thing that is consistent with Zenescope books is the quality of their colors, this time provided by  Slamet Mujiono.

On the whole, I quite enjoyed this book.  With Shand stepping away from Grimm Fairy tales, I would hope that he has more time to write books like this.  The trick will be giving each character their own voices, ensuring that the writing doesn’t become its own version of the art “house style”.  Fans of the Robyn and her merry band may be divided by the outcome of this issue but I would suggest that this issue is but one step on their journey.

Writing – 3.5 Stars
Art – 3.5 Stars
Colors – 3.5 Stars

(W) Patrick Shand (A) Larry Watts (CA) Roberta Ingranata
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