Merry Men is a comic from Oni Press that follows Robert Godwinson, former lover of King Richard, and his band of Merry Men in Sherwood Forest during the 13th century. It features the creative team of Robert Rodi with art by Jackie Lewis, colors by Marissa Louise and Shari Chankhamma, and letters by Jon Cairns. In the story, Prince John has outlawed homosexuality causing Robert, nicknamed Robin to leave and live peaceful lives away from his tyrannical reign. However, a strange woman enters their camp seeking aid. Robin is reluctant to help but soon finds himself and his Merry Men taking on the Sheriff of Nottingham.
This book features fantastic LGBTQ representation within its large cast. Overall, Merry Men has a lot of potential but is bogged down by boring worldbuilding. The story has potential and outside of the first few pages and a few panels here and there, I just couldn’t find myself falling in love with any of the characters. The strongest moments throughout the trade were of the romantic relationships. I particularly enjoyed the relationship, often told through flashbacks between Robin and King Richard. Robin is clearly not over the relationship and its end has left him emotionally unavailable. While I am all for a slow burn, this was just a tad too slow. Another issue I had with the story was it was very hard to keep straight who is who within the story. Outside of Robin and the strange woman, Scarlet, I barely remember any other characters’ names.
I will say, Lewis’ art is well done and a lot of the small details keep the reader reminded of the time period and the fantastical setting, particularly with the addition of Louise andChankhamma’s coloring. A lot of the panels feel like they are tinged with a sepia filter. Some of the letterings can be difficult at times to read due to the font choices but overall, it is an aesthetically pleasing book to look at.
Additionally, I have to commend the work for taking a classic story and giving it a new spin. It borrows a lot from the Robin Hood and Merry Men folktales with a few added spins based on scholarly speculation. This book is important if only because it shows such a vast array of LGBTQ characters. Oni Press is a publisher who prides itself on telling diverse stories. I think this book would have had a bigger impact on me if I was gay. Also, I think fans of Dungeons and Dragons, Robin Hood, or medieval story settings will greatly enjoy this comic.
Merry Men Trade Paperback is available in comic book stores everywhere
This book is important if only because it shows such a vast array of LGBTQ characters. Oni Press is a publisher who prides itself on telling diverse stories. I think this book would have had a bigger impact on me if I was gay. Also, I think fans of Dungeons and Dragons, Robin Hood, or medieval story settings will greatly enjoy this comic.