Robyn Hood #1

Robyn Hood

50 days in a row. I can’t believe it. I really can’t. I thought that somewhere along the line I would falter, miss a day, than before I realized it I would have forgotten about the reviews. But here we are. 50 days and counting.

I had to think about what I wanted to read for this review. For the longest time I debated about finding a well known comic that had a famous issue at issue 50 but then I talked myself out of it. The joy I’ve had doing this has been discovering stories I may not have chosen if I were in a comic shop. So with that in mind, thanks to Comic Blitz, I decided to give Robyn Hood a try.

Apparently this should be considered volume two. Seems Robyn Hood had been taken to a mystical land called Myst and met a witch named Marion. After their adventures Robyn heads back to New York with Marion in order to start a new life as a private detective.

Reading this comic I was reminded of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. That’s not a bad thing. While this story is very much its own story the homage to other stories is certainly there and helps someone like me who is diving into this universe for the first time to actually enjoy everything that is going on.

Masterfully, they dealt with backstory in a great way. While they touched upon it, the backstory of Robyn and Marion was never crucial to the story at hand. The writer knew that not everyone even knew there was another comic this story came from and wrote it as if it were the first time anyone ever read it which I really liked. Too often writers want to assume that you’re in on everything that is happening and forget to clue in new readers as to what is going on. I applaud the writers of this comic for their skillful use of backstory.

One issue I had occurred near the end of the story. Once Robyn and Marion realized that the person they were looking for was called The Priest, their client Sam calls and tells them she is trapped in a building with stained glass. They’d already established by this point that Robyn and Marion were standing in front of a church so it was quite convenient that two bits of info magically appear that leads them to a building that is right behind them. That was way too convenient to take seriously. That didn’t even give us the courtesy of acknowledging how convenient is was through the dialogue. They just ran into the church and started investigating.

The artwork was pretty solid. While it will not be something that will be studied hundreds of years from now examining the history of comic books, it serves its purpose. The locations feel real which is one complaint I really hate in other comics. After reading a bit about the history of comics from a great book called Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud, I discovered that I do relate most to the comic format that Jack Kirby helped establish. Characters have to be realistic enough and the action has to happen around every corner. While there are other forms of art out there that are quite enjoyable, such as the work from Nick Marino and the Holy F*ck miniseries, like in music it is best for people to stick with the basics before they decide to do something different. This story is a traditional superhero story. To be abstract with the art or story would do it a disservice.

Bottom Line:

This was a pretty good comic. While honestly I have to say that the back story is not something I would probably be interested in, this issue came across like a nice hybrid of fantasy and realism. Just like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. The great thing about those shows is that despite every fantastical thing that went on in the story, at its core it was about the relationship the characters had with each other. If that personal connection wasn’t there, you’d just have a bunch of talking heads yapping on for no reason and action pieces happening to people you don’t care about for reasons you don’t care about. Much like the Star Wars prequel movies. (Honestly, when it comes to the prequels I don’t hate them. But to dismiss the honest criticism that is out there would be foolish. They could have been so much better than they were. It just goes to show that movies cannot be a solo endeavor. You have to collaborate.)

This story interested me enough to want to know more. Much like Brian Bendis and his work on Ultimate Spider-Man, this issue tells a self contained story that on the last page gives you a hook to want to come back for more. This was well done and something I recommend. I give the story a 7.

The art was pretty decent but at the end of the day was just serviceable. Nothing about it really stuck out as being amazing. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying the art here was bad. It was clean and told the story in the classic Kirby style which best suited this story. There was just nothing that really stuck out as being visually stunning. Maybe it was being so new to this universe that threw me off and will be something that will wear off with subsequent issues. One thing I did like was the depth in the settings. Once they were standing in front of the church you felt like you were really there. You felt that cold chill you get at night no matter what time of year it is. You could just smell the trees. For that alone I have to give the art an 8. When someone does something that well, even if it only on a couple pages, you reward them for their good work.

Hulk #1

Hulk

Yet another number 1 issue, this time dealing with The Hulk. Marvel as of late it seems have been doing what television has been doing for years and having self contained stories involving their popular characters during a set issue limit. Basically, we’re getting a season involving one story that will come to a close. We’re past the time in Marvel at least where we see issues get to issue 100, 200, or 500.

This starts off with the premise that Bruce Banner has been shot in the head. A group claiming to be SHIELD takes a brain surgeon to operate on him. Turns out this doctor has a history with Bruce since they had gone to college together and he had teased him. That gives the doctor a chance to reminisce on their history together and to ask himself what he could have possibly done to have changed Bruce Banner’s path towards being the Hulk. We then learn that the people we thought were SHIELD are another group altogether looking to use the Hulk as a weapon.

I like the decision the doctor has to make. He realizes that as a doctor he has sworn to protect life at all costs but he also realizes that if the Hulk were manipulated by anyone else he’d be a dangerous weapon that could be used to kill people the world over. The conscience decision that he has to make is a great element of this story.

I also like the fact that what ultimately saves everyone is the actions of someone who had happened to be saved by the Hulk in the past. While the Hulk is certainly guilty of lots of destruction over the years, LOTS of destruction, he still ends up doing the right thing at the end of the day. It was a nice little nod to his past that helped shape the course of this story without having to rely too much on past events.

For the most part I liked how the past is used to service the story at hand. While you do have to have a base knowledge of the Marvel Universe as a whole coming in to simply know some of the basics like The Hulk himself or SHIELD and the members of SHIELD we encounter like Coulson and Maria Hill, this does not stop you from enjoying the story at hand. What I would have liked to see though was a little more explanation as to how and why Bruce Banner was shot. I have no clue as to what was going on so I did feel a little lost at the start of the story.

The artwork was pretty solid. The locations appeared quite small which did hold back from the believe-ability of the story at hand. It’s my biggest complaints with comics as a whole. The story needs to feel big. It needs to feel like it is taking place in a real location. Yeah, not all stories need Sergio Leone type of locations to be included in it but it does need to feel real. The main location for this story, the hospital room where the Hulk was being operated upon, felt like a set which, hey, I’ve watched enough television over the years to suspend disbelief but it did throw me a bit.

Bottom Line:

This is a good start. You do feel a little lost if you don’t know some of the hows and whys as to how the Hulk was shot but that shouldn’t take away your enjoyment of the this issue. A strong majority of the issue dealing with back story is used to enhance the story at hand. I give this story a strong 6.

The biggest issue most folks have with comics is the sheer volume of stories told over the years. You don’t know where to start. You also fall into the trap of starting at a certain point only to find out the greatest friend a comic book writer ever had, Captain Ret-Con, can change elements of stories that you may like, such as writers deciding Mary Jane Watson and Peter Parker should no longer be married. (Oops. Spoiler.) Much like the television show Doctor Who as well as the mother of all great modern television shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer, comics today, mainly the stories coming from companies with characters who have been around for many years, should focus on having a series be a finite set of issues, a season involving one story if you will. The next season can reference what happens in the previous season if it wishes but letting a comic line for a character like the Hulk go past fifty issues at the very most will just intimidate people and keep them from diving into the story. I am not saying back story should be done away with. As was done in this story, the history of characters can be used to great effect to further the story at hand. The thing is the average reader should not have to take a college course just to get a primer on the action at hand.

The art work, while average, does not really disappoint. It’s not sloppy like some comics like to do today which is nice. My biggest issue has to do with the locations in the story. It comes across like it is being filmed or drawn if you will on a sound stage. I like depth in the scenery of my stories. For that, I have to give the artwork a 6 as well. It was good, it served its purpose, but it is easily forgettable.