Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Hawkeye, Volume 2: Little Hits by Matt Fraction and David Aja Review

Hawkeye is an amazing comic, pure and simple. It might be THE Marvel comic to be reading at the moment over other current greats like Mark Waid’s Daredevil, Jason Aaron’s Wolverine and the X-Men, and Brian Michael Bendis’ All-New X-Men. And it’s about Hawkeye of all characters – Hawkeye!
Well, it’s about 2 Hawkeyes actually, Clint Barton and Kate Bishop. Both are kinda human car crashes. Clint can’t seem to get his life together, has all sortsa women troubles (including his protégé, Kate), as well as self-confidence issues, while Kate is a headstrong young woman trying to find her own identity despite also being called Hawkeye and wielding a bow and arrows in her team the Young Avengers. And it’s also about Pizza Dog aka Lucky – but more on him later.
The structure of the series is episodic so nearly every issue is self-contained like a sitcom and might be why the book is called Little Hits. However things happen towards the end of this book that splits the story from New York to California, and one of the new characters gets iced by a clown killer, so longer plot threads do emerge and take shape. Also – and this is to the comics’ credit - the stories tend to have very little resembling usual Marvel superhero comics.
Issue #7 for example is set during Hurricane Sandy, the natural disaster that laid waste to America’s East Coast last year, as Hawkeye helps his buddy Grills out at his elderly father’s place in Queens, preparing for the flood. Meanwhile Kate does the only real superhero-ing by setting out in the midst of the storm to get medicine from a nearby pharmacy only to see it being looted. A failed confrontation later and ordinary people show up to help Kate and stop the thieves in an excellent scene showing the camaraderie and decentness that is brought out in people when faced with epic disasters.
Without going into why I loved every single issue in the book, I’ll just say that there’s a great scene where Clint gets Tony to try and hook up his VCR in his new flat (yup, Clint still uses a VCR) and there are more shenanigans with the Russian tracksuit wearing toughs who use the word “Bro” like audible punctuation. But one issue towers above the rest and MUST be talked about – I’m talking about the Pizza Dog issue, #11.
This is the issue told from the perspective of Lucky, the dog eating pizza in the first issue in this series, who is saved by Clint from abusive owners, the Russian track suit bros. As this is the dog’s perspective, there is almost no dialogue, except for the occasional word that Lucky understands like pizza, Hawkeye, and Good Boy (which is followed by the best panel ever). Dialogue and actions are interpreted through symbols in an attempt to show how dogs think through images, smells, sounds, and we see a day in the life of Pizza Dog. It too is a self-contained comic with some scenes in it that at first appear cryptic but that are explained in later issues – I know this because I’ve gotten to the point now where I can’t wait for the trade paperbacks, I’ve got to buy the single issues as soon as they come out. Yes, it’s that good.
It’s artist David Aja that makes the Pizza Dog issue work so well. In fact, every issue Aja has done has been gobsmackingly gorgeous, unlike anything that you would expect in a Hawkeye book. Aided by colourist Matt Hollingsworth who brings a minimalist colour palette to the pages and you’ve got among the best art in a mainstream superhero comic ever seen. Aja deservedly won an Eisner this year for his work on this series and the Pizza Dog issue might well wind up winning best single issue at next year’s Eisners – it’s certainly got my vote.
And of course Matt Fraction – what else is there to say about this guy, except Hawkeye is his unexpected masterpiece. I’m not the world’s biggest Fraction fan but after his work on this and Fantastic Four/FF, I’m all about this guy’s work now.
Who knew that what a superhero does when he’s not being a superhero could be more interesting than when he is? Fraction, Aja, and Hollingsworth did that’s who. Hawkeye x 2 + Pizza Dog = this book rules. Little hits, BIG payoff.

Hawkeye Volume 2: Little Hits

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