Monthly Archives: August 2012

Hawkeye #1 | Fraction, Aja, Hollingsworth

You cannot help but feel just a tad cynical when you read this one; you know that in an estimated six issues, Marvel will drop the ball, and “Hawkeye” will just turn into another crossover whore, pushed to double ship each and every month.

You know all of that, and in some sense it dampens the experience, but if anything, we’ll all be able to look back at this one example and know we read a good Hawkeye comic book once, and that in fact, Matt Fraction may not have lost it all, after all.

All we can hope for, right?

“Hawkeye #1” came out better than I expected. Aja was sure to show up in my mind, but to have Fraction hustle as well and write a tight enough script managed to sway opinion and place the thought in my head that “maybe Marvel can still produce something worthwhile.” It’s a script clearly in work with its artist, showing characteristics similar to a “Marvel-style” production effort. And why not? When you have David Aja drawing the book, that seems to be the only smart move. Leave the pacing to the draftsman; leave the tone to the color wheel. And although the palette resides closely to something of a Mazzucchelli Daredevil book, it does lift the environment from basic background filler to more of an organic character.

And Fraction writes to that, connecting Barton’s characterization to the territory he frequents. It’s his way of saying “Hawkeye a.k.a. Clint Barton. Avenger. Human being. No super powers” without going the route of a cheap caption or bad narration. Instead, he seems to lift a little bit from Miller’s Daredevil, blending setting and character together, and arriving at this conclusion that Hawkeye is down to Earth because of where he lives.

The first scene does the most, though, as Fraction puts Barton in the hospital and has him exit in an annoyed rage.¬†That scene boils down who Barton is, introducing the mythical new reader who picked up this first issue, without slowing everything down for the rest of us already aware. It also presents Fraction’s take and the angle that he and Aja are coming from in terms of their run.

He’s put into the hospital because he can be – he’s a somewhat normal guy – but get under his skin, and you should watch out. There’s a fire in that character, or a frustration, and kicking the wheelchair gets that idea across in this nice, sort-of poetic way.

Separate the sequence from the rest of the book ,and you could even consider it a nice little vignette.

“Hawkeye #1” represents more of what I want to see from Fraction as he does his little stint at Marvel: Tight pop comics. I know this won’t last, and “Hawkeye” will just end up the “Daredevil” of this year once Aja departs, but for now I’ll just call this a nice super hero comic book and enjoy it. Maybe part of its appeal is that its just an above-average exception to the super hero rule set these days, but if so, at least it’s some sort of step up.

I’ll silence my cynicism for now.

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Casanova: Avaritia

Casanova / God-Fucking-Dammit / COMICS / How Bout That Last Issue?

This isn’t a piece of criticism or an essay. These are thoughts working toward a conclusion.

– Where Do I start with this? I’m not even sure how I feel.

– Avaritia’s just this giant guilt trip, spiraling down, way past the gluttony and filth of Gula into this whole new pool of dirt, puss and dank tears.

– Where do I fucking start?

– Fraction wants Casanova to be something other than what we perceive it as. He’s driven toward said goal, and in essence Avaritia exists to wipe away everything in order to establish the book as something else.

– That something else just seems to be something I’m a little unsure of.

– Hollywood.

– Fuck, do I now resent him for that last page? Do I join the mob and sharpen the pitchfork? Do I lose all faith in Matt Fraction?

– Questions.

– Why go to Hollywood? That seems like a place to start, to kick off this little mental exercise.

– Somewhere in the back matter of those Icon reprints, Fraction made it clear he’s not uncomfortable with the idea of “selling out” and making the pig fat. He admits it.

– Avaritia begins with a Casanova who hates his job, but by book end, may possibly like it once again.

– An arc.

– The last time Fraction wrote Casanova, Marvel just began for him. Avaritia, as he notes, took many false starts to finally find its footing. I’m guessing the dude had a rough start at the company and finally reached a point of comfort. Avaritia starts then.

– “It had to be lived.” – Fraction, letter page, Avaritia #4

– The book burns away old Fraction and introduces us to a new man. A man with responsibilities to up hold, who can no longer fuck around.

– Or does it?

РAll we know is that last page. But is Cass happy on it? Home in Hollywood? Does he want to be there?  Or, objectively, is that just where he is?

– Avaritia’s all about escaping those past volumes and crashing the expectations of a Casanova comic. The ending seems to suggest more of a change and signal a new era than it does suggest “selling out.”

– Though, that location is no coincidence.

– But, again, objectivity. That’s where Fraction is: The big time. Yet he’s still making comics – he’s just making them at a different point in life.

– If anything, this book’s the work of an older man who’s killing his younger self in order to leap forward. Can’t say I dislike that.

– As actual comics, they very much vary from the previous volumes. References no longer make up the DNA. There’s more space within the plot. Wider color scheme. More brutal. More of its own thing. Some of the quirk, charm and spirit has been lost, though. Been traded in for the upgrade Fraction’s after.

– A transitional volume.

– The Charles Dickens bit made me laugh.

– The last pages, the destruction – those pages buuuuurrrrrrnnnn.

– I still love this book.

– At the end of the day, it’s all just about life, being a good person and owning up to your shit. All through comics and genre thrills. And while this volume might suggest running away from your problems as an answer, well, the story isn’t over. This isn’t the period.

– As for references, glad to see Fraction get a bit away from them. Yes, still there to a degree, but they don’t define the book as they used to. Now we’re at a point where Casanova can stand on its own, without piggy backing as much on other works.

– There’s a line in the letter pages of issue four about guilt:

Guilt for what?

Previous Casanova? Going “Hollywood”? Changing the book up?

Or was he guilty about going as far with this volume as he did, but then got over it, citing the bit “and that was what I needed to wrap Avaritia #4.”?

That’s going to stick with me. That last minute change of mind. That he had to be talked out of it.

– I hate that I’m doing the whole “personal reading of the author” thing right now, but I cannot help but not take the author out of this one. Casanova’s about that dude. At least, to a degree. Or, at least, it’s about creating the book.

– Casanova is about itself.

– Casanova is about life.

– I still love this comic.

– This is probably my Invisibles.

– How would I rank?

Gula, Avaritia, Luxuria

– If anything, it’s bold.

More on the next Chemical Box podcast.

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