David Aja

Hawkeye

Hawkeye 19 (September 2014)

Hawkeye #19

It’s another concept issue from Fraction and Aja. This time Clint is deaf and Barney has to start talking to him. It’s not a particularly ambitious concept issue as it turns out, since Clint and his deafness–and the sign language dialogue–is only half the issue. The other half is Fraction setting up the next encounter with the bros and Barney complaining about Clint.

It’s all an inspiring story about Clint opening up and asking for help, except it’s really easy and Fraction goes so far as to apparently use it to jump start the resolution to the entire series. The finale has him finally calling on the Avengers for help, which is something he reasonably could have done fifteen issues before. Stubbornness isn’t a good excuse for perpetuating a periodical.

Aja’s art is creative and awesome. It kind of makes the comic worth it, but with not entirely.

C+ 

CREDITS

The Stuff What Don’t Get Spoke; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, David Aja; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterers, Chris Eliopoulos and Aja; editors, Devin Lewis and Sana Amanat; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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Hawkeye

Hawkeye 17 (May 2014)

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What do you do if your comic is so late not just your primary artist is behind but apparently your backup artist is behind too?

You do a "winter holiday special," in which the main character–as in titular superhero Hawkeye–falls asleep in front of the television during a holiday special. And the rest of the comic is the holiday special (courtesy Chris Eliopoulos).

There are definite analogues between Eliopoulos's cute little cartoon thing and the series itself. The hero is a powerless superhero who's determined, even though he can't do things right. Kind of like Clint Barton. Very deep stuff here.

Taken on its own, Eliopoulos is quote good at what he does so the comic's not bad. It's about as good as Fraction's regular Clint issues, actually.

However, the apologetic bookends don't endear the issue. Don't apologize for chooching your readers out of a real issue, just do it.

B 

CREDITS

Writers, Matt Fraction and Chris Eliopoulos; artists, Eliopoulos and David Aja; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Eliopoulos; editors, Devin Lewis and Sana Amanat; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Hawkeye

Hawkeye 15 (April 2014)

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How stupid can Clint get? Thanks to Aja’s page layouts, it’s hard to tell. The art’s beautiful, but the way Aja does flashes–rapidly cut comics–it’s unclear if he was really dumb or if the bad guy was just good. Fraction wants the reader to think Clint’s dumb, to make him lovable. That arrangement is strange–it means the reader can’t truly root for the protagonist.

This issue also has a fairly big Big Lebowski vibe thanks to Clint’s brother hanging around. It’s more Lebowksi than “Rockford.” It needs to be the other way around. Fraction’s got three guest stars popping in to tell Clint he’s stupid. Too many.

Otherwise, of course, the issue’s a delightful read. Fraction has a great pace, great twists, great everything. He can’t visualize the story through his protagonist’s perspective. It also could be the incredibly fractured narrative.

Fraction’s hit the ceiling with Clint.

B 

CREDITS

Fun and Games; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, David Aja; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Devin Lewis, Sana Amanat and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Hawkeye

Hawkeye 13 (December 2013)

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Why did it take Fraction so long to get to this issue? It’s Grills’s funeral; didn’t Grills die in issue nine or ten? Then there was the brother issue, the dog issue, a Kate issue or two… and Fraction doesn’t acknowledge the time spent reading them. He acknowledges their existence, sure, but he doesn’t take into account the reader having been waiting for this issue.

I’m not sure if it’s because he figures it’ll eventually all be collected or if he really does just want to confound the reader.

Worse, he sells he. Aja does the heavy lifting, of course–for a “simple” book, Aja’s narrative design makes Hawkeye work and it does. It works better than it has in ages.

But a series on its thirteenth issue maybe shouldn’t feel like one I’ve been reading–or waiting to read–for ages. Fraction needs straighten this one out.

Or not.

CREDITS

The U in Funeral; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, David Aja; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Sana Amanat and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Hawkeye

Hawkeye 11 (August 2013)

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Fraction and Aja tell the issue from the dog’s perspective. I’d forgotten Clint even had a dog. Luckily there’s the text recap.

So, there’s a whole visual language for the dog, how he encounters the world–with image memories like street signs and so on–based on smell mostly. I doubt there’s ever been a comic so much about smell.

And it’s really cool. The dog runs into people he doesn’t like, he makes a new friend, it’s really cool. For a while.

But then there’s the narrative. The clown guy is apparently in Clint’s building hiding out with an evil old lady, it’s still unclear if Clint knows Grills is dead, and then Kate moves to California. Also, unclear why clown guy hasn’t attacked Clint as lots of time seems to pass this issue.

It’s really cool, but cool doesn’t make up for Fraction’s insistence on bewildering the reader.

CREDITS

Pizza is My Business; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, David Aja; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Tom Brennan and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Hawkeye

Hawkeye 9 (June 2013)

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Apparently Clint isn’t irresistibly attracted to the redhead, he’s just a man slut. It’s also unclear if he’s fired from the Avengers.

His lady friends–Black Widow, Mockingbird, Spider-Woman–are worried about him. Both because he’s a man slut and because he’s in danger, only Fraction skips around to avoid looking at the in trouble part and sticking to the relationship stuff with Spider-Woman.

For the first time with Hawkeye, I don’t get it. I can’t see what Fraction’s trying to do. Aja’s artwork is amazing, but having Clint be this depressed guy who’s a fifth wheel in his own comic? And the redhead doesn’t even hang around. She leaves town–Fraction obviously has an internal logic to how the events occur, but since he–pardon the phrase–fractures the narrative, he’s asking a lot of the reader.

He doesn’t bring the goods this issue. It’s too bad.

CREDITS

Girls; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, David Aja; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Tom Brennan, Sana Amanat and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Hawkeye

Hawkeye 8 (April 2013)

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So Clint’s redhead femme fatale comes back and gets him in all sorts of trouble. The issue’s really confusing, starting with the flashback of her last heist going bad.

Then there’s the ladies at the Avengers mansion and the implication Clint’s dating Spider-Woman but probably not since he hopes into bed with the other girl. Kate shows up for a page, guess she’s no longer costarring.

Fraction seems to be suggesting Clint’s powerless to resist the redhead, but it’s unclear why. He’s a superhero, I’m sure he’s met loose women before.

Maybe the problem is Fraction’s approach. He writes Clint as something of a rube, getting taken for a ride. It’s not funny, it’s sad. He commits felonies for no good reason when he easily could have found good reasons.

There’s a big scary cliffhanger with the Marvel crime bosses.

It’s got beautiful art, but Fraction’s writing’s a mess.

CREDITS

My Bad Penny; writer, Matt Fraction; artists, David Aja and Annie Wu; colorists, Matt Hollingsworth and Wu; letterers, Chris Eliopoulos and Wu; editors, Sana Amanat and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Hawkeye

Hawkeye 6 (February 2013)

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I don’t understand half of what’s going on this issue. I think there’s this gang of toughs who have a sickly old man for a leader and they’re going to kill everybody in Hawkeye’s building if he doesn’t leave. And he can’t beat the gang because he’s only one guy and he refuses to call anyone for help.

Except when he wants Tony Stark to hook up his DVD player and when he wants to give up the Hawkeye mantle to the girl Hawkeye.

So it makes no sense, at least if one is looking for logical behavior. Fraction doesn’t worry about logical behavior. He and Aja instead concentrate on making an awesome reading experience. It’s hard to even call Hawkeye a comic… it’s a reading experience.

Between Aja’s page design and then his actual art and Fraction’s pacing and dialogue, it’s fantastic.

It’s just a hostile read is all.

CREDITS

Six Days in the Life of Hawkeye; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, David Aja; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Sana Amanat and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Hawkeye

Hawkeye 3 (December 2012)

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Wow. This issue is simply wonderful.

Fraction’s not worrying about setting up the characters, he’s not worried about coming up with an interesting hook, he’s just trying to have fun. And Hawkeye is fun. Lots of fun.

It’s kind of like a TV show. Clint and Kate bicker while they fight crime. Kind of like he and Mockingbird used to do, only without baggage.

The issue consists of Clint going out to buy tape to label his trick arrows, meeting a girl, hooking up, getting involved with some Mini car-driving bad guys, saving the girl, all while bickering with Kate and showing why trick arrows are really important.

Aja’s probably essential. I can’t imagine the issue being so much for–or so rewarding with so little content–without Aja. He’s already stylized but the action just takes it to another level. He never sacrifices anything.

It’s a fantastic comic.

CREDITS

Cherry; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, David Aja; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editor, Sana Amanat and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Hawkeye

Hawkeye 2 (November 2012)

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The second issue isn’t what I was expecting. Fraction doesn’t exactly give Clint a lot more personality–he’s from Iowa, to answer my question from last issue and he’s not playing protector of the downtrodden here. Actually, even though he hires an assistant, it’s unclear what Clint’s doing.

If he’s just playing good guy to the people who don’t usually get helped–he has a crime board after all, like a consulting superhero or something–it’s fine. Fraction and Aja have done something similar before (Iron Fist) and the character works for the niche; why not run with it?

And it continues to be a lot of fun. Fraction doesn’t go overboard with the quips, peppering them in mostly, until a big quip-filled conversation between Clint and his assistant (the female Hawkeye). Aja comes up with a checkerboard for their conversation and it all works great.

Hawkeye’s good fun.

CREDITS

Vagabond Code; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, David Aja; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editor, Sana Amanat and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Hawkeye

Hawkeye 1 (October 2012)

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I realized, finishing the first issue of Hawkeye, is how little the comic has to do with Hawkeye. It’s about Clint Barton, New Yorker. For some reason I always assumed Clint was a West Coast kind of guy, but Matt Fraction writes him as a empathetic New Yorker. And David Aja draws a great New York City. It’s not seventies gritty, but eighties grimy. It’s a great setting.

Wait, I lost track. The comic not being about Hawkeye. I guess it isn’t much about Clint either, at least the reader’s expectation of the character. It’s practically a superhero “Seinfeld.” Clint tries to do the right thing, without resorting to the costume, and has a number of misadventures involving his Russian mafia landlord.

It’s funny, touching, everything one would want from an inexpensive Marvel Studios Hawkeye movie. And Fraction and Aja do a great job doing a soft relaunch slash pilot.

CREDITS

Lucky; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, David Aja; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editor, Sana Amanat and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Immortal Iron Fist 16 (August 2008)

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So as Fraction departs–he leaves the next team with a lovely pickle. All the work he and Brubaker did leading up to this issue, the establishing of the Iron Fist history and all… it equals all Iron Fists dying at thirty-three?

Did I mention this issue is a birthday issue?

Aja’s back and he does a lovely job as we catch up with Danny in the weeks following the last issue. He’s rearranging his business, getting even more Jedi with his Iron Fist readings, giving Misty romantic ultimatums, setting up community outreach with Luke….

It’s a great epilogue issue (one with an amazing opening).

Fraction (with Brubaker) put in a lot of perfect issues to this series and this issue is another. It’s a great close and a great setup. Aja’s so on the ball, I’m not even peeved about him disappearing from the series for a while.

It’s excellent.

CREDITS

Happy Birthday Danny; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, David Aja; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Dave Lanphear; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Immortal Iron Fist 13 (May 2008)

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It’s not the deepest issue, it’s probably not the best written, but it’s completely awesome. Everything comes together here (with the promise of a big fight next issue).

Unfortunately, Aja’s not along for the ride. Instead, it’s Zonjic doing most of the art. He’s a lot like Javier Pulido. He’s fine, but I was used to Aja on the title.

Brubaker and Fraction get in a lot more about K’un-L’un here, stuff they probably should have made clear a lot earlier. The book moves real fast–this issue’s fight sequence is between Davos and the Thunderer, but otherwise it’s mostly talking heads as everyone prepares for next issue.

It’s interesting how this story arc has had an annual and a special published alongside it, both essential reading to keep up. It suggests something big. I wish there’d been more specials, actually, for the supporting cast.

It’s a great issue.

CREDITS

The Seven Capital Cities of Heaven, Part 6; writers, Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction; artists, Kano, Tonci Zonjic and David Aja; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Artmonkeys Studios; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Immortal Iron Fist 12 (February 2008)

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Is there even a fight this issue? Wait, yes. Davos gets beat up for being a tool last issue.

The art chores are apparently getting to be too much for Aja, as Javier Pulido fills in on some of the pages. Pulido covers the stuff with Luke, Misty and Colleen, but also some of the K’un-L’un stuff… so it’s not like there’s any rhyme or reason to it. In fact, at the beginning I just thought it was Aja trying a new style. Pulido’s great… so great one might wish he was doing the whole book.

Kano does the flashbacks, which feature Danny’s father fleeing K’un-L’un.

Brubaker and Fraction give the background on the revolution here. The Thunderer is going up against the ruler, Yu-Ti, who is revealed to be a tyrant. Shame they couldn’t foreshadowed it.

It’s good–there’s some great dialogue–but it’s real jumbled.

CREDITS

The Seven Capital Cities of Heaven, Part 5; writers, Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction; artists, Kano, Javier Pulido and David Aja; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Artmonkeys Studios; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.