In Review: Robyn Hood #14

Stronger visuals would help, but the story is strong enough to make you consider picking this up.

The covers: Four is the number of covers for you to target as additions to your collection. The A is by Richard Ortiz and Ivan Nunes, and it’s the one I had to purchase. This features Robyn front and center with arrow held ready, Liesel Van Helsing to her right with her mini-crossbow ready for action, and Marian to her left, blue energy sparking about her. I love the look of all three characters and the coloring is really good. The image I’m using for this review must have been an early coloring job by Nunes because the actual image is much darker, but just as good. The B cover features just Robyn and Van Helsing. It’s by Paolo Pantalena and Nunes and it has the pair wearing elaborate versions of their costumes, and very impressive. The C is by Mirka Andolfo. This one was a puzzler to discern who the character is. It’s a cute looking “bad girl” demon, who’s spray painting on a wall “Robyn Sucks.” The image is great, but there’s no character in this issue that looks this way, so I’m guessing that this is a generic demon that the heroic trio will battle. Nice, but a little confusing. There’s also a Wizard World Pittsburgh Exclusive cover limited to 350 copies, with art by Deacon Black. I couldn’t find an image of this, so good luck chasing it down. Overall grades: A A, B A, and C B-

The story: The smartly titled “#DEATHSTREAM” opens with Robyn and Liesel tied back to back in chairs with the young vampire that’s been broadcasting his kills on Instagram telling them that their deaths will increase all of their popularity. The two humans look to see that they’re on a stage in a room full of watching vamps and demons, eager to see them die. Meanwhile, Marian is astral projecting in an effort to rebuild her magical abilities. Unfortunately her spirit meets another and the claws come out. I really enjoy the balance that Pat Shand brings to this series, and this issue is a good example of his skill. Just when things seem to be reaching a turning point for Marian, he moves back to Liesel and Robyn. He builds the tension there really well, with Page 8 being a very slick example of how others are reacting to the broadcast of their deaths. The title character appears to be in a no-win situation, when she does something completely unexpected, but completely in line with her character and her abilities. Page 10 was fantastic, but Shand moves outside the setting to set readers up for an unexpected arrival, which occurs at the top of 12. Shand always builds suspense well and has action that is unexpected. I love the hero roll out on 13, with only theme music absent from the story. The issue has a blow out fight that’s terrific, with a different set of villains upset with the battle’s results. And in perfect cliffhanger fashion, just as it seems the heroes are safe, a call is placed and an antagonist is on the way to cause trouble. This is perfect reading. Overall grade: A

The art: The issue has highs and lows with Roberta Ingranata’s art. She definitely knows how to lay out a page, with the first page demonstrating a nice pull back to reveal the issue’s baddie. However, that fourth panel has the right third as wasted space; it seems as though the antagonist was originally there, but was smudged out. The full reveal occurs in the final panel on the page and he looks good. The double-paged spread of 2 and 3 is a good idea, but again, too much wasted space. It’s as if Ingranata was expecting text to be in the upper half of 2. The point of view should have been shifted slightly to have more of the audience shown or the heroines brought closer to the edge of the stage to get more of the crowd. The astral battle on 4 and 5 is too subtle — It’s a battle on a different plane, but the decision to render the line work so sparse diminishes the battle, losing some of the drama. However, the sequence at the bottom of 5 builds the tension back up terrifically. With a return to Robyn and Liesel’s fate on 6 and 7 the crowd disappears. It looks as though it’s a new location until they reappear on 10. When the heroes go into action, the visuals greatly improve. Ingranata knows how to do an action sequence, which starts with a picture perfect hero entrance. This a mixed visual experience. Overall grade: C

The colors: Slamet Campbell does a decent job on this issue, with the coloring on the first three panels of the first page outstanding. There’s some nice light work done on Page 2 that’s created to highlight a spotlight’s effects; I especially like the glare on the main villain’s hoodie, plus there’s some nice work on a demon’s wings. However, the choice of pale blue for the astral battle against a pale grey background makes the conflict all but lost; the colors blend too easily, making this tussle terrible to discern. At one point green is used, and that might have been a better choice to stay with. The issue’s closing fight has nice work with bright colors for intense panels and the sounds nicely stand out. That choices for that astral battle are the only weak point, and it really bothered. Overall grade: B-

The letters: Dialogue, electronic device lettering, story title, astral speak, growls, hashtag texts, yells, a certain vampire’s two words of dialogue, and next issue’s tease are done by Jim Campbell. I really like that the uber-powered supernatural characters have their own unique fonts, giving them an additional visual that differentiates them from the “normals.” The sound effects on this issue are really fun, with SLITCH being outstanding. Overall grade: A 

The final line: Stronger visuals would help, but the story is strong enough to make you consider picking this up. Overall grade: B

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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