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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Outlaw. The Legend of Robin Hood.Tony Lee (Writer), Sam Hart (Artist), Arthur Fujita (Colours). Walker Books (2009)

A fresh and vivid version of the classic story that uses all the traditional elements and avoids any hint of cliche. Robin Of Loxley, Earl of Huntington returns to England from the Crusades upon hearing of the death of his father. He finds himself enmeshed in a plot created by the Sheriff of Nottingham and his henchman, Sir Guy of Gisburn. Arrested as an outlaw, Robin seeks refuge in Sherwood Forest where he swears to bring justice back to Nottingham. The fight between Robin Hood and his Merry Men against Guy of Gisburn, The Sheriff of Nottingham and Prince John is delivered with great pacing, excellent action, a very solid plot and it bursts with the vital spirit of romantic adventure.
One of the great strengths and joy of this book lies in the vivid and lively cast that Tony Lee has created. Robin Hood, Little John, Friar Tuck & Maid Marian step out from the countless previous versions and move through the story as credible, fresh characters who are actively involved in the action of the story. Guy of Gisburn is a wonderful villain, heartless and violent, cunning and ruthless he is a genuine threat. To oppose him requires honest courage, the Sheriff of Nottingham is a more sinister man, he understands that the true enemy is the hope Robin Hood inspires not just the man himself. Tony Lee has perfectly balanced the mystical and legendary and the physical and mundane aspects of Robin Hood and shows why this legend is an evergreen.
The art by Sam Hart is forceful, clear and an understated delight to read. His panels are uncluttered,the layouts varied and interesting, the details are carefully chosen to give depth to the figures who dominate. The body language of his cast and their facial expression brings the cast to energetic life.
The colouring by Arthur Fujita is a major part of the story, the tones shift and vary is a subtle and very effective way to reflect, emphasise and underscore. Both the art and the colouring are at the service of the story, the fine blending of three very strong elements make this a superb comic.

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