Nottingham volume one graphic novel review

From writer David Hazan, artist Shane Connery Volk, colorist Luca Romano, letterer Joamette Gil, published by Mad Cave Studios. 

This volume includes issues 1-5.

The classic tale of Robin Hood, but told as a police mystery from the perspective of the Sheriff of Nottingham. This is bloody, its dark, its thought provoking, and it is one of the most original takes on Robin Hood since a fox put on the costume. 

At first I thought I knew the story, and why would I want to see the Sheriff as the protagonist of this story? I have no problem with anti-heroes but I’m not big on humanizing the wickedest of villains. A little too much Disney growing up. However, this comic breaks apart what I thought was true and comes at the legend from a logical and more realistic perspective. Everyone has an agenda and very few people are truly good, so what is the agenda of Hood (as he is called in this series) and the Merry Men? It takes a lot to gain the loyalty of so many. The Sheriff investigates the crimes of the Merry Men, interrogates, and attempts to solve a murder before his entire society crumbles. 

The Sheriff, Everard Blackthorne, becomes a perfect fit to the noir detective trope despite hailing from a different location and time than the usual gumshoes. He seems massive yet small. A leader to some but beat down by others. Beat down by life too. His road has not been easy but that may be what makes him perfect for the role. Even in the way he’s drawn, he’s larger than life but stoops over. He’s intimidating yet pitiful. He’s strong when he needs to be but also tries to be fair. 

Of course the most iconic image is the mask worn by Hood and his Merry Men. It immediately will bring to mind V for Vendetta, the Joker, even the Cheshire Cat. All of which are implying unreliable characters and secret agendas. Ironically, the only one without an agenda is Everard. He does his job, honors his code, and is fair – but you only get one shot. 

Everard becomes such a compelling tragic hero in a way that it upended everything I thought about this book at the beginning. Everything I thought about Robin Hood too. The legend is nearly 700 years old and one would think every take has already been told. Yet Nottingham is so original it proves that good ideas are timeless. They just need good creators to work with.

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