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Nottingham Volume 1 Delivers a Relentless Pursuit and a Sheriff Worthy of Such a Task

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Nottingham Review

Nottingham is a dramatic and mysterious take on a classic story from Mad Cave Studios, with the Sheriff of Nottingham hunting down a serial killer, while the Merry Men are pillaging in Sherwood Forest. Nottingham Volume 1 collects issues 1 through 5 and is written by David Hazan, drawn by Shane Connery Volk, colored by Luca Romano, and lettered by Joamette Gil.

In an effort to create a unique spin on the Robin Hood tale, Hazan landed his focus on the notorious Sheriff and how a differing persona could turn this story on its head. He previously said,

“The Sheriff is really made for the role of a morally ambiguous detective. He’s a person who has to serve the interests of the upper echelons of society and keep an eye on the lower classes at the same time, which can lead to some really challenging dilemmas for the character.”

– David Hazan on Nottingham
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Nottingham Synopsis

Everard Blackthorne plays our Sheriff of Nottingham and his journey begins with a grand search already underway, as he attempts to hunt down a killer who is disposing of tax collectors. Nottingham follows leads, interrogates suspects, and looks to discover the band of Merry Men and their infamous leader Hood.

Dawning an inescapably wicked red mask, featuring enlarged facial features including a maniacal grin bearing all of its teeth, the Hood is the ultimate target as it’s believed the band of Merry Men are behind many a great atrocities. The winding road of wickedness, from one murder to the next, leads the Sheriff to discover that ulterior motives are not just for those hiding behind such creepy masks.

In an era of solving matters with a sharp blade, Nottingham brings about bloody battles, flashbacks to the Crusades, and an overall understanding that not everything is what it seems in the world we’ve all come to know surrounding Robin Hood. Blackthorne must tread lightly around the Lord of Nottingham Castle, while trying his best to investigate any and all parties of interest, including one Lady Marian. The seeds of doubt are around every corner and this tale strips away any and all expectations when entering the world of Sherwood, leading to an ultimate bloody game of cat and mouse.

Nottingham twists the Legend of Robin Hood and passes the Lead to the Sheriff

David Hazan crafts a striking take on the classic Robin Hood tale, whether it be Disney’s animated version or the beloved tale featuring Kevin Costner, Morgan Freeman, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and Alan Rickman. Nottingham Volume 1 depicts drastically different characters and scenarios, making this trade paperback its own unique creation.

This story leans into Sheriff Blackthorne’s cunning and fighting abilities, as you see him make astute deductions from various clues while showing off a high degree of swordsmanship. Although you might be more familiar with laughable moments coming at the expense of the Sheriff in past iterations of Robin Hood, there aren’t any of those to be seen in this medieval version. Instead, he’s highly motivated to catch the Hood and restore some kind of order to the chaotic world he lives in.

The value of this story comes from these variations, because you don’t know where the story will turn and who is to be trusted. There are plenty of action sequences to guide the murkiness associated with all of its lead characters; betrayals, greed, and blinding rage are all wrapped together amongst Nottingham’s storyline. Whether you expect to find a ragtag crew of rebels seeking to “steal from the rich and give to the poor,” or you’re looking for humorous jokes or gaffs from the Sheriff, it will be best for you to expect the unexpected.

Nottingham Art highlights Nefarious Actions from its Shadowy Characters

Artist Shane Connery Volk and colorist Luca Romano team up to represent the grittiness associated with the newfangled landscape of Nottingham. Death is everywhere; Volk and Romano come out of the gates running with violent death scenes featuring a sword, bow and arrow, garotte, and a knife. It truly showcases the wickedness associated with the masked killer and the overall tempo of the entire series.

These opening sequences give you a true understanding of the sense of urgency that’s felt by the Sheriff, because he’s already many victims into a case that’s placed a lot of pressure upon his shoulders. It cannot go unstated how incredibly disturbing this mask is, much like the impact felt from similar twisted smiles lingering in other comics like Something is Killing the Children and Gideon Falls. The mask plays a huge role in adding a terrifying aspect for the victims who fall under the weight of the murderer’s reign.

There are plenty of larger-than-life screams and lines to depict swift movements, which amplifies the feeling of being trapped in medieval times where one’s voice and actions are what cemented a person’s legacy. The Sheriff comes to play with all of these characteristics, as he seemingly takes on the entire band of Merry Men at one point or another. The over-the-top of shouts and blood-spraying strikes really amp up the intensity of the story, emphasizing what it will take for the Sheriff and all of the other characters to succeed in their missions.

There is also a lot of variety blended into the panels. From intimately close conversations, wide shots of larger attack formations, and smaller panels stacked upon larger ones; all of them drive the story forward and give you a heightened sense that every single moment will lead to a conclusion where it can only end in massive bloodshed. Just when you think you know what’s going to happen, the artistry propels you forward in dramatic fashion, with vindictive facial expressions and a sea of red masks that ultimately get removed to highlight the true motivations behind the entire story.

Nottingham tells a New Tale to get You Interested in an Old Legend again

This is brand new territory for a legendary tale. Nottingham doesn’t mesh with the typical vibe you’ve come to expect with Robin Hood, because the focus shifts to a different type of Sheriff that doesn’t know how to quit. There is an unbending drive to Blackthorne that I’ve not seen before, which gives an unrelenting quality to the story where it seems impossible for him not to succeed.

Nottingham is for fans of violent, medieval stories where the unexpected leads the storytelling narrative. If you like Robin Hood, you should enjoy such a transformative tale where the creators push the envelope with the regular cast of characters. Prepare yourself for the change and get ready to walk into Sherwood Forest knowing that everything is different and nothing will ever be the same again.

When you leave a story that completely flips the script, wondering what might happen next from one page to the next, that tells you there’s a quality story being told where you’re interested in seeing what happens beyond this volume. There will be blood. There will be treachery. And, quite possibly, when one person gets caught in the act, you will see one of the best “uh oh” expressions that leads to a no holds barred five-page brawl.

Nottingham Volume 1: Death and Taxes is a solid choice for those seeking a new edge to a timeless classic.

Nottingham courtesy of Mad Cave Studios
^Nottingham courtesy of Mad Cave Studios

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