Sunday, December 13, 2015

In the Details

Don't care for Robin and Marion as a happy couple? You're in luck.
I like graphic fiction (perhaps better known as comic books), and pick some up from time to time. My intake of them is limited by the fact that I don't typically go for super-hero comics, with a few rare exceptions, and the age-old adage that 99% of everything is crap. But sometimes, there are items of interest in that 99%.

Which brings us to Demons of Sherwood, a Robin Hood tale from a few years ago that I came across recently. Something gnawed at me as I read through it, and I couldn't really put my finger on what it was - the fact that the characters seemed more 21st century than 14th, the fallback on clich├ęs, the odd relationships between the characters, the anachronisms that popped up, the idea of Robin as a bitter has-been or what.

But it finally occurred to me that what irked me the most was that the dynamic between Robin and Marion was one of fluctuating mutual antagonism throughout most of the story and the writing encouraged the reader to take a side. I can see that as a different take on the Robin Hood legend, and an interesting one. But that's something not entered into lightly, and what kills an otherwise interesting premise is the amateurish handling of what becomes the central conflict of the story.

I mention this because, in the end, most of what is wrong with Demons of Sherwood stems from the maladroit handling of the material, and in this, it is like a lot of things. It would be easy, if one chose, to read active dislike of characters and people into this book - there are a number of characters whose portrayals are negative, and to the degree that they can be enlisted as stand-ins for larger groups of people, those groups can come off in a negative light. But it all more or less makes sense within the confines of the story that is being told - even when it seems tangential or even unnecessary to the story overall.

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