In Review: Robyn Hood: The Curse #1

The Curse is damned good fun! Heroics and horrors combine for an entertaining read.

The covers: Nine covers for the first installment in this series. The A cover is by Igor Vitorino and Kyle Ritter created this frontpiece which was used in much of the promotion for this book. A gigantic Robyn holds her bow low in both hands as she stares at the reader, standing above the city which is caught in a downpour. Robyn looks great, as does the city, and the coloring is tops, with the character standing out strongly against the blue sky and the orange glow of the city’s lights. Next up is the B cover by Fritz Casas and Hedwin Zaldivar which is a WOW cover. Marian is dressed in tight black clothes extending her hand to the reader, which is emitting violet smoke. She’s surrounded by an immense dragon that’s powering up to blow some flames. The illustration is amazing with details and the colors are stunning. Yeah, it’s that good. The “Good Girl” cover is the C by Keith Garvey. This has Robyn wearing a white crop top that says NEW YORK and short blue shorts. She’s leaning on the hood of yellow taxi with a city skyline behind her. Cute, but I can’t imagine Robyn wearing this. Marian and two other witches are in the woods using their abilities to raise Quin’s lover Sam into the sky on the D cover by Anthony Spay and Jorge Cortes. She’s surrounded by violet energy, which matches the circular patterns around each witches’ hands. I like the focus on Sam and the coloring makes this extremely striking. The E cover is a really unique composition by Leonardo Colapietro. In the foreground is Marian walking to the left. In her hands she holds a crimson heart. Her hair is flaring upwards. Behind her is a golden shield with a woman’s face within it. Robyn is behind this shield, almost upside down, snarling at Marian. What the heck is going on? This looks like a fantasy piece by P. Craig Russell and I love it! There’s a Blank Sketch Variant cover that features the company logo, the title, issue number, and credits at the top, while down in the bottom left is the book’s title. This is neat way to get a one of a kind illustration by an artist or get the series’ creators to sign it. However, on its own it’s not that fabulous. The New Year’s Eve Exclusive (limited to 350 copies) is by Derlis Santacruz and Ula Mos. Against a backdrop of champagne glasses, glitter, sparkles, pine cones, and Christmas lights (all of which is on a violet background), Robyn is wearing a tight green top and dress. The top is sheer across her chest and on her sleeves. Her belly is showing and there’s a suggestion of stockings. This is a beautiful image of her and the coloring is equally strong. There’s also a New Year’s Eve Exclusive (limited to 75 copies) by Santacruz and Mos that has the same background and similarly posed character, though she’s wearing less; Robyn now has on only a bra, panties, a garter, and stockings. The lingerie is gray with gold stripping. This will get your heart pumping. There’s also a Cosplay Exclusive (limited to 100) by Elias Chatzoudis, but I couldn’t find it online, so good luck tracking it down, collectors! Overall grades: A A-, B A+, C B-, D A-, E A+, Blank Sketch Variant C, New Year’s Eve Exclusive (350) A, and New Year’s Eve Exclusive (75) A

The story: One would think that this is going to be a typical Robyn Hood story where the title character takes down some thugs who reveal themselves to be part of a larger group that’s under the influence of some superhuman creature or a magical creature. Writer Chuck Dixon takes this heroine and her allies in a whole different direction. The book opens with Robyn taking down “four mooks (who) aren’t your typical gangbangers” who have been draining “their victims of blood then use the blood to paint bastardized Latin phrases down the middle of Bleecker.” Before encountering these creeps she dipped her arrows in “a font at St. Patrick’s.” When her arrows strike, they create wounds that steam. One individual who takes an arrow to the face tells her “The line between this world and the next is about to blur.” Before the man dissolves into a pile of worms, he says, “Something’s coming…hih…hih…hih…” That ominous start transitions to Marian and Sam who are about to do something for the first time. No, not that; something involving magic. The premise of the book’s curse originates with this pair. The words they speak on page 7 will sound very familiar to fans of H.P. Lovecraft. What follows is things going from bad to worse because of what this pair decide to do. Things are also going very wrong in San Diego’s Natural History Museum where someone different looking commits a crime. This story contains the most graphic deaths in Robyn’s saga that I can recall of the last few years, but they’re absolutely true to the horrors in Lovecraft’s works. I’m looking forward to seeing how Dixon combines one of my favorite comics with one of my favorite horror writers. Overall grade: A

The art: Julius Abrera is the book’s artist and he’s doing some solid work. The opening page is a splash and it’s an awesome shot of Robyn leaping forward letting loose an arrow at the reader. Behind her is a great city at night, with a full moon in the sky. The chase that follows flows well; I’m used to seeing artists create a generic run across countless rooftops, but this doesn’t do that, with both the hero and baddies leaping to specific building that’s easy to follow. The baddie that gets it in the eye is a pretty gross image, but the graphic injury is necessary for the violence that this story is going to contain. The dissolve into worms on Page 4 was cheesy, sick goodness! Page 5 has a humorous six panel visual due to the dialogue being spoken. Abrera helps form the joke with his layout and a nice reveal on 6, which is also a full-paged splash. What Marian and Sam help create is a very nice reveal on 7, with the blast at the bottom of 8 well done. There’s a good visual surprise at the bottom of 11; the ick factor is high and I’m hoping that Abrera will get to illustrate more of this antagonist in future issues. Page 12 has the layout done well, but the characters aren’t as finished as those on previous pages were, though there is a fantastic element in the final panel on that page. 13 looks much better with the characters more complete looking and more natural in their poses. The reunion on 14 and 15 is good, with the close-up in the third panel on the latter page perfection. There’s a nice obscured action scene before the book ends that is fantastic, as are the two characters that end the book. I’m liking Abrera’s work and am really enjoying his combination of horror and heroics. Overall grade: A-

The colors: Robby Bevard is also a solid contributor to this issue with his coloring. The first page has the hero standing out at night against the lights of the city streets. The night sky is created with violets, rather than blacks, creating an otherworldly feel that’s perfect for the story. When the punk gets shot in the eye, the colors are darkened to make the reader look more closely at the art, drawing them further into the story, only to reveal the gory wound clearly on Page 4 and the grotesque transformation into the pink wigglers. When the story shifts to Marian and Sam, the colors are dark for their room, with what they’ve been doing cosmically luminescent. What is created on 7 is gloriously bright, coloring the women and their environment a great shade of pink. I like the subtle work done on one character’s eye on 9 — foreshadowing! The pasty white of the villain on 11 is also neat, and the splatter of colors on the bottom of 12 delightfully dreadful. Bevard enhances the drama and the dread of the art expertly. Overall grade: A 

The letters: One of my favorite letterers is Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studios because he always creates a wide array of incredibly pleasing fonts. For this first issue Esposito creates narration, dialogue, yells, weak speech, scene settings, a chant, a phone conversation, computer text, someone losing their lunch, screams, and the tease for next issue. A sign of an outstanding letterer is the ability to have narration be different from dialogue, and Esposito always does this. The scene settings are strong, leaning into the panels, providing a visual clue for the readers when to go next on the page. There are several varieties of yells and screams and I’m looking forward to some supernatural squeals in future issues. Overall grade: A+

The final line: The Curse is damned good fun! Heroics and horrors combine for an entertaining read that shows what happens when you dabble in the dark arts. A good entry series for Robyn Hood, while also being a good continuation of the archer’s saga. Overall grade: A

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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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