Monday, July 15, 2013

365 Comics...196: Hawkeye Vol. 2: Little Hits (2013)

What can I say other than Hawkeye is astounding, boundary-pushing comics with Matt Fraction and his artistic collaborators (primarily David Aja, but also Francesco Francavilla, Steve Lieber of Jesse Hamm, plus Matt Hollingsworth on colors).  Each issue in this collection (numbers 6 throug 11 of the ongoing series) is a bold storytelling exercise. 

The sixth issue is evenly split between Clint and Kate as they whether a storm hitting the East Coast (providing Fraction ample room to pit Brooklyn against Jersey, playing up the common stereotypes of each in Kate and Clint's verbal sparring, then undermining them in their actual respective stories).  The seventh issue toys with non-linear storytelling set over a six day span.  The eight brings back the femme fatale of volume one, once again wreaking havoc on Clint's life, the story interjected with romance comic covers by Annie Wu that have a story relevance while sort of acting as chapter breaks and interludes. 

The ninth issue separates itself into vignettes -- linearly forming a whole story -- that feature the women in Clint's life... the work wife, the ex-wife, the protege, and the girl... friend(?), all spiraling out from the emergence of the femme fatale in issue 9.  Issue ten is a European art film posing as an origin story for the Clown, the hit man hired to destroy Clint's life. And the final chapter in this volume is the now-infamous "Pizza Dog" issue that tells the story from the dog's perspective, interpreting language only sporadically and thinking/interpreting the world in a glyph-based reference.

Each of these issues on its own is a different level of genius which makes for entertaining, challenging and fascinating reading, but as a whole they combine to form a less than satisfying story, one that gets a lot of set up but then spins its wheels without going anywhere before revving up some more.  There needed to be some payoff of at least one of the story threads introduced by this incredible team but they seem so overwhelmed with creative freedom (and perhaps too much self-satisfaction with their own cleverness ... and it is very clever) that they forget to deliver a rewarding sense of momentum (or even movement) to the story in play.  The crafty structures the team devises to engage the reader also serves to distance them from the story as a whole as narrative consistency is sacrificed from one issue to the next.

It is, however, kind of worth it, because there isn't another book out there like this and it entertains in all sorts of ways, particularly in ways that wouldn't suit any other medium.  That said, Coen Brothers to adapt Hawkeye to the screen... make it happen Marvel.  (Peter Stormare resonates in my brain when I read the Russian tracksuit mafia "bro" speak).

1 comment:

CalvinPitt said...

That's a good point about the lack of any sort of conclusion. It might explain some of why I'm not entirely satisfied with it.

The other part is that Grills was the only supporting cast member Fraction had bothered to flesh out, and then he killed him. Maybe he and Aja could spend a little more time making me care about the other tenants who Clint will ostensibly have to protect? So far they're like cardboard cutouts, just there to fill the background, but with no depth or weight to them.