The Other Side of the Page: Books and Comics
Comic Review: Merry Men #1
I first heard about the title from artist Jackie Lewis, who is a friend of mine. She mentioned it to me a couple years back as we had dinner at a friend’s birthday party. I’ve always been a sucker for Robin Hood stories being one of my favorite literary characters. I’ve eagerly waited to finally get my hands on it this week. Was it worth the wait?
This review contains minor spoilers for Merry Men #1.
Written and drawn by queer artists Robert Rodi and Jackie Lewis, the duo work in sync to bring to life Medieval England in the time of Prince John. Robin of Sherwood AKA our Robin Hood has created a community where his “Merry Men,” people who have fled to escape tyranny for their sexual orientation, live in peace. With the arrival of Scarlet, a young woman with many surprises of her own, Robin must lead his men to liberate the town of Elton.
Have you ever read or watched something, and you just know the creators did their research? That’s the feeling you get when you read Merry Men. From the dialogue to how the arrows are drawn, this does feel like a period piece. It lives and breaths Medieval England. What Robert and Jackie do so well is give it the emotions of a contemporary story. This comic fits right into the problems of today that many LGBTQ people face. One particular character struggles with their birth gender having never felt like that’s who they are. Many of Robin’s Merry Men swing both ways for men and women. Robin himself isn’t with his old lover, King Richard (I must say it’s not stated in issue one. This information is from Comic Book Resources). These are very real problems that everyday people face. Regardless of if you’re straight or queer, we’ve all known sadness being away from loved ones. We’ve all faced situations where we don’t feel like ourselves. We all have felt that excitement when a new person peeks your interest like Scarlet did for many of the Merry Men. This title might be set in Medieval England, but it’s story transcends to today.
I’ve always been a fan of Jackie’s spectacular line art abilities. She takes time to draw in each hair, every wrinkle of clothing, and even the faintest facial lines. Her backgrounds are impeccable detailing every cobblestone, thatched roof, and wood grain. Marissa Louise, the colorist, added her meticulous touch bringing the perfect mood and tone to each panel. Every page should be scanned multiple times to catch the most unique and tiniest details. I bet you’ll see something new with each reread.
The only bit of criticism is that issue one is a bit dense. There are a lot of characters and exposition crammed into this opening act. It takes a second reading to catch all the little intricacies. If this was an ongoing title, I would want these details to be explored over the course of the series. But being a mini-series, this is an issue I can easily ignore. They only have so much time and space to tell their story.Merry Men was well worth the wait. Click To Tweet
Merry Men was well worth the wait. While there’s a strong telling of LGBTQ issues in history, it’s a fun swashbuckling adventure as well! There’s plenty of action, romance, and humor to please every reader.
I gave Merry Men #1 a 9 out of 10! Buy it NOW!