In Review: Robyn Hood: Tarot One-Shot

A fun story that changes two characters' directions is slightly sullied by too many artists.

The covers: There are seven different frontpieces for this one-shot, suggesting you might need divine intervention to find them. The A cover is by Sean Chen and Ivan Nunes. A beautiful fortune teller consults her crystal ball where she sees Robyn firing off an arrow which is shattering the ball. Good image with the flaring colors, done on the teller’s forehead and around the orb, making this cover eerie. The B features artwork by Jose Luis and colors by Grostieta. I liked both characters on this, so this was the cover I chose to accompany this review. Atop a building at night, Mystere, aka Mary Medina, crouches down to look at something on the streets, while behind her Robyn nocks an arrow. Both heroines look great and the background has a lot of nice details. The colors also look good, with the violet highlights on Mary making her an eye catcher. Next is the C by Richard Ortiz and Ceci de la Cruz. This is a really cool cover with the layout being a tarot card, The Archer specifically, showing Robyn with an arrow nocked on her bow against an Art Nouveau collection of lines. Robyn looks great, but making this really pop is that her face has been done up like Mary’s for Día de los Muertos. This makes me wish that Zeneoscope was going to create variant covers for every card of the tarot deck. This theme is taken a step further on the D cover by Manuel Preitano. Five tarot cards are on a table, the bottom four cards feature villains who’ve appeared in other Zenescope books and the top card is “Strength” featuring Robyn. Nicely done and this increases my desire for an actual tarot card set. The E cover is by Meguro. Mary is holding up a card featuring the Queen of Penatcles, which features a fairly grim image of herself. This is okay, but the image on the card looks better than the character holding it. There’s an Awesome Con Postcard Exclusive (limited to 250 copies) with art by Ale Garza and colors by Ivan Nunes. Coming out of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool is Mary, wearing a pair of tight gray-blue short shorts and a white top, where nothing is left to the imagination since it’s wet. This is the first Postcard Exclusive that’s not a knockout, with Mary’s face looking robotic and her body plastic, more so than wet. There’s also a San Diego Comic-Con Cosplay Exclusive cover (limited to 100 copies) with artwork by Paul Green and colors by Ula Mos, but I couldn’t find any images of it online, so good luck tracking that one down! Overall grades: A A-, B A, C A, D B+, E C, and Awesome Con Postcard Exclusive C

The story: The Order of the Tarot is holding a meeting to discuss what to do about Robyn Locksley. Their Emperor, Death, decides that the Forsaken One shall be given a second chance to deal with the hero because “It is time for the Order of the Tarot to come out from the shadows.” Days later, Robyn is out testing some new equipment, unaware that she is being watched by Nataliya, the Forsaken One. After recalling her meeting with Death setting her on this mission, she uses her crystal ball to see that Mary Medina is nearby. “This may call for a change in plans.” She turns herself into a raven and finds the Queen of Pentacles and does something. Joe Brusha is the writer of this book and much happens. The heroes almost come to blows, as often happens when heroes meet, they share information about the Order, until joining forces to confront the villain at an amusement park. Yes, I rolled my eyes at that, too, however Brusha addresses the choice of setting on 20 and it instantly becomes justifiable. It was nice to see that though Mystere has become a fighter, she’s not at Robyn’s level of expertise yet, and she does require help during the final battle. I had certain expectations for how this issue would resolve the conflict and it didn’t go anywhere near what I expected, with Brusha doing something surprising on Page 33 and on 34. These surprises completely justified this one-shot’s existence as it does something major to the heroes. The final four pages of the book tease the direction of the Order after this issue’s events, with a new character being introduced. Zenescope has been slowly rolling out the threat of the Order of the Tarot and this issue has them becoming the lead team of villains in the Zenescope Universe. This was an enjoyable, surprising story and it leaves me wanting more. Overall grade: A

The art: There are four different artists on this book and it shows. I would rather have one artist be responsible for an entire book, so that the visuals would be more unified, but that’s not to be for this book. The artists are Renato Rei, Sergio Arino, Daniel Maine, and Rivero. No page numbers are listed for who’s responsible for what pages, so I’ll make comments based on the pages. The first page features a good, cinematic pull into the Order, though they’re too tiny in the fourth panel. The seats on the ends or empty, so the artist could have pulled in closer. Death’s first appearance is good, as are his appearances on the following two pages. The layout on these pages is good, with five panels seeming to revolve around around Death, showing his importance to the reader. Page 3 is a full-page splash of Death with his Emperor mask off. He looks good, but too much space is devoted to his cloak, making the impact of his facial reveal lessen. Robyn first appears on 4 testing equipment. The artist nicely shows her in action, making her way between two buildings. The quick flashback with Nataliya recalling her conversation with Death is done really well, with the skull providing the transition. Mary’s appearance in the crystal ball is good, as is the power in Nataliya when she casts her spell. There’s a really impressive amount of detail in the city on Pages 8 – 16. Mary’s alternate persona is also really good on these pages, and her transformation on 13 excellent. The full-page splash on 15 is awesome. Pages 18 and 19 is a visual summary of how Robyn has had difficulties with the Order in earlier books and it’s not very well done. There’s a lot of empty space on 18 and there’s no focus on 19. Page 22 has some new villains introduced and they don’t look good; the lead characters look fine, but these minions do not. Pages 26 and 27 have some good actions scenes that are very easy to follow and look sharp. 28 is confusing; the art doesn’t clearly communicate what’s occurring. 33 is a full page-splash that looks awesome and is the perfect image to send this character off. The same opportunity presented itself in the story on 34, but the concluding action is much too small; the first panel should have been much smaller. The final four pages do a decent job on the setting and the characters, with the final page revealing a new character and having an excellent inserted panel to direct the reader’s eye to something of importance. The artists’ different styles made this story a disjointed experience. Overall grade: C

The colors: Though there are three different colorist for this issue, Grostieta, Hedwin Zaldivar, and Jorge Cortes, their work comes off as unified. The reds of the Order’s chair sets a villainous tone from their first appearance. This is continued on the following two pages with the Emperor radiating an even darker red, with an orange glow as well. The highlights on his crown and spear look good. The greens and violets used for Nataliya’s magic are really well done. When chaos erupts on the streets, the borders go black or burning orange to accentuate the fires that have broken out. The first four pages at the amusement park are really bright, making it not seem so threatening an environment, but still night. The work done on 33 is beautiful, making me eager to see what happens to Robyn next. The final four pages use a lot of smoldering red, again giving the location a sinister feel and also making it seem like the meeting is occurring at night. A good job. Overall grade: A-

The letters: Narration, dialogue, Death’s unique dialogue, sounds, a distorted plea, editorial notes, scene settings, groans, yells, and the tease for an upcoming series are all crafted by Ghost Glyph Studios’ Taylor Esposito. There’s never any question that Esposito is going to do an exceptional job on a book and he does so here. It’s always impressive to see a letterer have a different front for a book’s narration and to see unearthly characters have their own unique speech font, as Death does. The yells and groans are excellent during the fight, and the tease for a miniseries at this story’s conclusion is in an exciting font that will keep readers’ blood pumping until it arrives. Overall grade: A 

The final line: A fun story that changes two characters’ directions is slightly sullied by too many artists. Still, this is worth picking up to see the Order of the Tarot’s rising power. Overall grade: B

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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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