Saturday, November 3, 2012

Narrowly it’s fucking awesome



Matt Fraction is the Jim Jarmusch of comics. 
 
There’s a stylishness there that comes from a love of the medium. There's a dedramatized episodic structure that's straight up hip. There’s also a smugness that works, but not always.
 
Casanova is one of those books you just can’t explain to someone[1] other than, I hope you love The French New Wave and hyper kinectic action with cool one-liners. Fraction also hearts The Mountain Goats and single handedly made Iron Fist fucking awesome! 
 
 
What I’m saying is, yes I love me some Matt Fraction, and I like me some Hawkeye and I love me some David Aja, so why is Hawkeye the best comic series that I’m not excited to read?
Issue 1 is fantastic, great splash page, Aja’s grids have a narrative tighgness that seems barely constrained by gutters. And really? This comic is cool as all hell. 
 

That scene right there? You can't film it no matter how much Matrix money you throw at it, you can't write it either. And that panel breakdown? You have to slow yourself to take it in andthenspeeduptogetit. 
 
So the first issue sets up the scene, The Adventures of Hawkeye, the Avenger that's just a dude. That's not a terrible premise, infact it's a great premise given the cross-over, summer blockbuster, this-changes-everything face of things. But the whole Dude hangs out with Super Powered People and Gods thing? Batman. Batman's done that thing, fuck that is his entire thing right there.
 
Hawkeye's always bored me. I liked Ultimate Hawkeye. The idea that he was a soldier made his shtick make sense (as much as any of it ever can) but then it got a bit Utimatey.
But it made sense, so much so they kept it in the movie, and frankly let's be real - that movie? It was all Hawkeye being professional while shit went down.
 
So that brings me back to this book. This book is incredibly obsessed with its stylishness. And at a cost. Issue 2 has a great cold open - Kate and Clint in Cirque du Soleilesque attire leaping into a pool while evil silhouettes open fire at them. 12 panels, no text and yet everything you need to know is there. Very Television moment. Opening credits. The plot is so ridiculous as to be early Goddard. There's a circus of thieves in town. And that's it really, that's all there is to it.
The problem here is that there is a bit of collateral damage. People die. Bystanders are cut down amidst wacky hijinks. Our heroes never seem to acknowledge this.
 
Issue 3 is actually my favourite - It has the most use of the word Bro as punctuation as anything I've ever read. It also has a Cassavates energy to it. Muscle cars, Russian Mafia in numbered track suits, Hawkeye hasn't labelled his trick arrows! How Mod!
 
But there's that underlying theme of not giving a shit about the world around them. And if this was a movie, that would work and I could totally see Kate Bishop played by Anna Karina.
 
But.

This is a member of the Avengers, a fact that comes up to wave away fiscal concerns every so often. This is a man who can't afford to play the clueless, we'll figure it out, whoops-let's-hope-no-one-saw-that Dude. And it's a stupid petty thing to get hung up on, but it lies at the core of what this book claims to be about - the empathy that only a member of the lower frequencies can have. 
So yeah, read this book.
 

And can we talk about this for a minute? Because if there's one thing I have to admit, Aja's women man. He and Jerome Opeña do that thing where they know they work in an industry that's all about cheesecake and T&A and they understand that but they don't feel it. Aja's women are pretty, no lie, but utilitarian, there's muscles that are tired and strained, movement that isn't gratuitous, and expressions that aren't pouty. And what I'm about say next makes very very sad - Aja's women are people.

[1] Here’s a wikipedia summation of the second volume - Cornelius and the gang race toward X.S.M.'s island, where Xeno and the Bendays are about to launch Lisi's shuttle which, along with the H-Element, will grant Xeno's past self the Fakebook. The closer the gun gets to launching, the more body parts Lisi seems to grow, existing in multiple, conflicting timestreams. Zephyr, too, begins to display some of Lisi's side effects, until she is shot by a mourning Kaito. It is then revealed that Zephyr was really Casanova, working to try to atone for his sins by undoing everything. Cornelius, angry at his son's death, elects to fire the gun and preserve history.

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