In Review: Robyn Hood: The Curse #4

A questionable action and some uneven art keep this from being a solid read.

The covers: The A cover by Sergio Davila and Ceci de la Cruz have Robyn standing atop the iconic entrance to the Gaslight Quarter in San Diego. She looks great, very cool with her hair being blown by the breeze, and the sign is picture perfect. Also perfect is the coloring which is beautiful. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this image blown up and on display at the Zenescope booth at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. Mike S. Miller and Jorge Cortes are responsible for the B cover which has Sam holding Marian in the air with a hand at her throat. As her lover struggles, Sam is powering up her left hand to blast her. In the foreground is an unconscious Robyn. This looks amazing! There’s a lot of detail in the characters, with the work on their clothes fantastic — and check out the cape on Sam that billows out behind her! The coloring is also exquisite. The use of violets and blues is beautiful. The C by Jay Anacleto and Ula Mos is the one that’s been used in most of the promotional images for this issue. It’s got Robyn looking at the reader with her bow held down in her hands. She’s standing before a wooden cross that’s been her target. There are several arrows in it, showing that Robyn’s been practicing OR someone has been shooting at her and now it’s her turn. This is a perfect illustration with perfect colors. The final regular cover, the D, is by Caanan White and Hedwin Zaldivar. Sam is in her violet supernatural togs and looks manically up at the reader. Several tentacles have emerged from her back and and circling before her. She looks delightfully devilish and the colors are spectacular, instantly catching one’s eye. The final five exclusive covers are available at three different conventions. I’m glad that Zenescope lists them with the credits in this book, though I could only find one of them online. The ones I couldn’t find include the Wizard World Philly Exclusives (Limited to 350/100) by Eric Basaldua with colors by Sanju Nivangune and the MegaCon Exclusives (Limited to 350/75) by Ale Garza with colors by Mos. The cover I was able to find was the East Coast Comic Con Exclusive (Limited to 250) by Elias Chatzoudis. This has Robyn wearing a camouflage bikini sitting on her luggage, sticking out her thumb to get a ride to the Jersey Shore. This is an okay cover, but not terrific. Good luck with these, collectors! Overall grades: A A-, B A+, C A+, D A+, and East Coast Comic Con Exclusive C+

The story: You’ve got to love the subtle way writer Chuck Dixon begins this issue with Robyn questioning Marian’s use of the ancient tome. In fact, Marian gets sarcastic with her friend, which has Robyn trying to calm her down, but it’s no use. After all, with a turn of the page, Sam has transformed into a massive demonic tentacled creature that’s trapped within a spell Marian placed on the floor. As Marian reads the spell to save her friend, the creature says she’ll scream in agony for millennia. A continued reading has the creature transform back into Sam who begs her to stop. Marian keeps going, making Sam sport a wicked smile and say, “I am warning you. Proceed no further and I will make your deaths quick ones.” The spell finishes, ending with Marian sending a blast of energy at her friend, knocking her unconscious. She’s back to her normal form. Not dead, “More like soul dead.” Sam’s an empty shell now with her psyche “somewhere on the other side of the universe.” As the women take a breather, the story moves to Gerry Villariagosa ordering six of his flesh wearing minions to kill the two police detectives who are inching closer to his involvement with the recent deaths in the city. The attack on the detectives is quick and violent. The final line on Page 6 is the purest form of irony. Even though it only lasts for two pages, it was good to see Robyn and Marian get to shoot the breeze. They never seem to have any time to be normal, so it was much appreciated. Though I really can’t see them doing what they do at the top of 11: it’s tremendously out of character for both of them. That said, what happens after their exit is fantastic — great sick horror moment. The meeting between characters on 15 is more intense than I suspected, but it goes as I thought it would. Page 20 is another great horror moment. The final three pages of the book have two heroes joined by a third and something shocking happening to them, leaving them in a precarious situation until next month. I’m liking the horror mixed with the heroics, and the nods to Lovecraftian horror are always cool. I just really think it’s a stretch with the action of two of the leads on 11. Overall grade: B+ 

The art: I didn’t catch it in my first two readings, but as I sat to write this review I noticed the foreshadowing for Page 2 that Julius Abrera puts in every panel of the opening page. It’s subtle, but effectively teases what’s to be revealed on 2. The full-paged splash of 2 is a nice showcase for Abrera to show off his creature creations and certainly makes not-Sam look creepy as all hell. Adding to the shock is angry Marian gesturing at the thing that was once her friend. The three right panels on Page 3 are a neat progression of the creature trying to manipulate the magic user. The attack on the detective starts well visually, with the men running across a rooftop and making a dramatic entrance, but their violence is too distant from the reader, lessening the strength of their attack. Better is the creepy, textless panels on Page 11. The story is told without words and it seethes with something unnatural. It’s also very cinematic. The building revealed on 12 is just too simplistic. A building can have a lot of windows, but there’s just no depth in this image. Better is Robyn’s apartment when a character enters, which is also very cinematic; the point of view sells the entrance. It’s understandable why a character is shocked with what’s in Robyn’s apartment, but the reader better take notice of what and how many have joined in the setting. The full-paged splash on 15 shows the evil of one character and the shocking discovery by another. Everything about this is good and look in the skies to see another form of evil. Nicely done. I like the visual direction from Robyn at the bottom of 18 to tell Marian to keep quiet: subtle and smart. My favorite page of the issue is 20: it’s unexpected, it’s realistic, and it’s a mess! The action on 22 is also a shocker, but the action on 23 is either too distant or too quick for the reader to get the full impact of what’s occurring. I’m liking most of these visuals, but I need them to be consistent. Overall grade: B

The colors: Robby Beyard begins this book with some appropriately hellish reds that make the violets on the page seem unnatural. The reveal of the creature on 2 is great, but lightening up the scene would have been scarier; the creature blends in with the setting too much. Better is Page 3 with the creature changing shape and the colors changing with it. The greens are a hit as they make a moment eerie. When the minions run across the rooftops violets are used to create the night, which makes the yellow lights of the city really strong. The coloring of the setting where their attack occurs is too dark. Is that location, and others like it, really that dark? If so, that’s really surprising. The work done on the floors of Robyn’s apartment are really good with the wood colors sharp. 15 uses some creepy greens to highlight a vision and they enhance the art considerably. The oranges and reds on 20 are perfect. The final page is too dark to really see what’s happening. Like the art, the colors are somewhat mixed. Overall grade: C+

The letters: Dialogue, yells, monster speech, inhuman words, sounds, a transmission, a scream, some non-English dialogue, and the tease for next issue are created by Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studios. The yells in this book capture the speaker’s emotional state well. I like how there are different types of yells, visually showing the reader the intensity of each. The monster’s speech looks ancient, giving this creature an aged tone. The sounds are outstanding, with the penultimate page having the most massive and impressive of the issue. I didn’t like the non-English words of the last two pages, though. They are too small for the character that speaks them. They should be larger and thicker; they come off as frail. Overall grade: A-

The final line: A questionable action and some uneven art keep this from being a solid read. I’m enjoying this series enough to continue reading, but with only two issues left I’d like to see Sam sporting the outfit she’s had on several variant covers using the abilities she’s shown on those same covers. I would also like to see the action more clearly. My fingers are crossed for improvements. 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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