Thursday, July 29, 2010

Outlaw: The Legend of Robin Hood

What will Nai's first graphic novel be? Robin Hood, of course! Here is my review.

Outlaw: The Legend of Robin Hood
-A Graphic Novel-
Written by Tony Lee
Illustrated by Sam Hart
Colored by Artur Fujita

Published by Candlewick Press
Released 22nd of September, 2009
Unnumbered graphic novel pages - perhaps 200

Plot * * *
For a Robin Hood plot to be only fair is normal. In fact, one could call this “good” as far as Robin Hood plots go--it is, after all, not merely a bunch of fights smashed up against each other. It also doesn’t have an entirely clear goal, which is normal. The goal is: stay alive, keep your friends alive, and flaunt the robbing authority. There is a capture and big fight at the end, and then all is well, thanks to King Richard and Robin’s archery. It works.

Characters * * *
Though not developed overly deeply, they strike the reader (or me) as very much belonging to the Robin Hood world. Marian is likeable and just a tad sassy. Robin is arrogant, rash, courageous, and smitten (of course). Little John is more then just a lumbering giant, which I enjoyed very much--he was already an outlaw before Robin got into trouble and has depth to him. King Richard is portrayed too well, but that’s the fault of most Robin Hood books. The villains--Guy and the Sheriff--are both bad, but as I think back, I still have trouble distinguishing between them--not because of the characters themselves, but because of the art in this graphic novel. There is a lot of dark lines and shadows, and it is a bit of a chore to keep the characters straight at all. Guy is the real baddie of this story, however, and it is rather nice to see him die.

Golden Arrow * * * *
Though I didn’t have a “love” reaction after finishing this graphic novel, as I look back through it, I realize how very Robin Hood it was. Sure, it was typical and pretty predictable as a result, but I had a rousing good time reading it, and I can definitely say it fit the bill when it comes to being Robin Hood enough for me, as well as having its own little twists.

“Fluently!” * * * *
As the graphic novel was mostly dialogue, the dialogue had to be good to keep me reading. And it was. Quotable and amusing. I read it on a drive to my grandparents, and I laughed out loud and kept showing my sister quotes as I read, so that counts in its favor. One thing that drags down the rating a bit is that there is some language that it could’ve well done without, and makes me guard the book against my siblings, unfortunately. It gave the dialogue a bit of a gritty edge which brought down the enjoyment a tad.

Others * *
There weren’t many “other” elements, beyond the aforementioned language. There was a strange part near the beginning with “spirits” in the forest...apparently Robin’s father and Will Stutely (an outlaw met and executed in the beginning of the book), but it is thankfully over soon.
Also, Robin claims a few times that “God is on his side”--and it comes across as some kind of joke, whether the author meant that or not.
Another small element is Robin’s back-story...which was really confusing for me to read, and is a bit odd (he apparently grew to hate his father, because his father said he would...?). It adds some depth to the character of Robin, but it doesn’t feel quite real.
Another thing that bothered me a bit were some of the illustrations...there was a bit of blood splattering and that bothered me, but I seem to be hyper-sensitive to such things, so it probably won’t bother most people at all.
All of these are thankfully small things. The biggest concern I have in recommending it is the language.
One positive bonus: An afterword of sorts (called "Who is Robin Hood?") is written by Allen Wright of wonderful www.boldoutlaw.com!

Overall Thoughts and Rating * * *
I’m not a graphic novel/anime/manga person, but I was able to enjoy this quite thoroughly anyway. It’s not a “must read” but if you have time, it is certainly worth picking up.

~Nai

Image from Amazon.com - I am not sure who owns it.

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