Matt Fraction

Satellite-Sam

Satellite Sam 10 (September 2014)

Satellite Sam #10

Just when I thought Fraction would never turn the series around, he delivers a fully fantastic issue. There’s no wasting time here, there’s no dawdling. At most he spends a few pages with the minor supporting cast, but it all turns out to be to prop up the main cast.

And having Mike back as the lead helps immensely. Even though the supporting cast–Gene’s secret gets out, along with some other secrets–have their share of story this issue, Fraction is back to Mike on his investigation. He doesn’t discover much, though Fraction and Chaykin do an astounding explanation of women’s stockings, but the investigation (and its weight on him) brings Sam back around.

Hopefully Fraction can maintain the pace–he’s spent a lot of time putting things in place without them paying off and now he’s showing his deliberate pacing was worth the wait.

It’s amazing stuff again.

A 

CREDITS

Keyhole and Welt; Shadow, Seam, Heel; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Howard Chaykin; letterer, Ken Bruzenak; editor, Thomas K.; publisher, Image Comics.

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Hawkeye

Hawkeye 20 (November 2014)

Hawkeye #20

What do the Kate Bishop Hawkeye comics read like if you haven’t seen The Last Goodbye?

Fraction wraps up Kate’s trip to Los Angeles with one of his fractured (Fraction fractures, get it? Oh, never mind) narratives–the beginning is actually a midpoint and the ending is a reference to the beginning. But it’s a finite fractured narrative and it works. He doesn’t go too far with it.

He’s always been better with Kate on the book, probably because the reader is going to identify with her read of Clint Barton as a tool. Fraction writes him as a tool after all.

There’s a lot of humor, a lot of black humor, the occasional creepy moment and some great Kate narration. Fraction doesn’t do a lot of resolution for the L.A. outing, however, which would have been nice.

Wu’s art is great.

It gets laggy but it works out swell.

A- 

CREDITS

Writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Annie Wu; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Devin Lewis and Sana Amanat; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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.

Satellite-Sam

Satellite Sam 9 (July 2014)

Satellite Sam #9

Until the cliffhangers, Fraction has Sam back on course for the most part. Sure, he doesn’t know what to do with Michael, but everything else is going well enough as long as he has something, it’ll be enough. Or so one would think, because instead it’s just Fraction trying to inch the murder mystery forward without much commitment.

Satellite Sam has a big cast and its inevitably going to be a slow burn as Fraction moves one pan onto one burner and another into the back for an issue, but having your ostensible main plot line be your most boring and narratively loose? It’s a problem.

It’s a shame too, because Chaykin is still turning in some great work on the comic. And Fraction is doing some excellent work too, he’s just meandering and it’s hard to have confidence he knows where he’s going with the series when he’s meandering.

B- 

CREDITS

Out; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Howard Chaykin; letterer, Ken Bruzenak; editor, Thomas K.; publisher, Image Comics.

Satellite-Sam

Satellite Sam 8 (May 2014)

Satellite Sam #8

It's a strange issue. There are a couple big things going on, one with Mike at the LeMonde Christmas party and getting in a fight with Kara. The other one is the more historical story line with the new TV star with a big secret. It's an unexpected secret too; good stuff on that story line.

But the other one… Fraction's pushing it. There's a lot of expository dialogue reminding the reader of previous events and scenes and Fraction only needs them because he's let them go too long. Lots of characters too, all in one place, not really doing anything except moving along this story line. The emphasis on character is gone. It's a shame.

The worst is how Chaykin's got the responsibility of doing visual cues to move big revelations along. Chaykin doesn't differentiate between faces well enough for that responsibility.

It's a surprising stumble of an issue.

B 

CREDITS

Cinecittà; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Howard Chaykin; letterer, Ken Bruzenak; editor, Thomas K.; publisher, Image Comics.

Hawkeye

Hawkeye 18 (May 2014)

Hawkeye #18

Fraction gets some kudos for getting tough on Kate in L.A., but then he goes and does two really annoying things. First, he sets up Kate’s latest case as a way to get her back to New York and teamed up with Clint. It’s contrived. Second, the hard cliffhanger requires Kate be unaware of her surroundings. She’d probably be long dead if she were so unaware.

Otherwise, it’s an excellent issue. Kate gets herself into another bunch of trouble, this time investigating an acquaintance’s past. There’s some good flashback stuff, giving the reader a look at Wu doing nineties period stuff and “realistic” supervillains.

The art’s quite good the entire issue. Even though not much happens–it’s really just Kate investigating most of the time–Wu keeps things moving along.

Sadly, Fraction seems hell-bent on running this series to exhaustion. This issue might be the first Kate issue not to be amazing.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Annie Wu; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Devin Lewis and Sana Amanat; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Satellite-Sam

Satellite Sam 7 (March 2014)

Satellite Sam #7

Fraction's doing less of an arc than a window into Mike–as in the new Satellite Sam–and his descent into obsession. It's funny, but I think Fraction's still trying to get keep the character as likable as possible. He's just over his head, trying to relieve his father's photography fetish.

There are the subplots going too, of course. There's a great one with the disgraced writer on his way out and then the troubles of a new show going on. Not to mention a flashback to the original Satellite Sam and how he conducted himself, drafting a girl Friday who tracks down Mike for something here.

The comic opens with the series's most explicit moment (so far). Chaykin choreographs it perfectly. There's some great stuff from long distance profile later one too. I love how Chaykin makes the comic about classic TV feel like classic TV with panel composition.

Awesome issue.

A 

CREDITS

Exposure; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Howard Chaykin; letterer, Ken Bruzenak; editor, Thomas K.; publisher, Image Comics.

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.

Satellite-Sam

Satellite Sam 6 (February 2014)

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I may come to regret this statement, but Satellite Sam really is the bee’s knees. It’s serious, thoughtful, never silly. Fraction doesn’t mess around with it. Every scene is beautifully plotted–who knew Howie Chaykin had this kind of work left in him–and perfectly reasoned. It’s not just a consistently good read, it’s a consistently exceptional read.

This issue might be the series’s best so far. Fraction isn’t continuing the investigation into the old Satellite Sam’s photography habits, he’s starting up a bunch of new story lines (while still continuing directly from the previous issue). It’s comics as TV, with a new season starting here and Fraction and Chaykin deliver the goods.

The issue is full of loud and quiet moments, which is why it needs Chaykin. It needs someone who knows how to make those moments work in a sequential narrative.

It’s relatively uneventful; a muted, outstanding success.

A 

CREDITS

Women in Trouble; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Howard Chaykin; letterer, Ken Bruzenak; editor, Thomas K.; publisher, Image 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 16 (February 2014)

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Once again, why is Matt Fraction even writing Clint Barton issues of Hawkeye when he’s got the opportunity to write these Kate issues.

It’s a done-in-one, “Rockford” style detective issue. Kate comes across a guy walking down the freeway, discovers he’s got a story (sixties rock legend turned burnout) and tries to help him. Things do not go particularly well, but they go badly in very amusing ways. Plus, Kate develops as a character throughout, between her neighbors, the angry police chief and her supermarket P.I. mentor. It’s all so awesome, one would think Fraction wouldn’t want to write Clint anymore either.

I won’t even get into how movie-ready a nineteen year-old, female superhero would be for Disney.

Nice art from Annie Wu, who gets in some nice psychedelic poster art influences–doing a flashback with a guy’s face as the guide, for example.

Excellent stuff.

A- 

CREDITS

Recording Tape; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Annie Wu; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Devin Lewis, Sana Amanat and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Satellite-Sam

Satellite Sam 5 (December 2013)

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Fraction and Chaykin go for a rather distinct–and mature audiences–sight gag to repeat through the comic. There’s really some great art from Chaykin, who takes three people through hearing or seeing uncomfortable or unwelcome news and events. The whole thing is in their expressions and he nails every one of them.

It makes up for the second of the visual gags being a little too tacked on. It’s not easy because Fraction and Chaykin go out of their way to make it uncomfortable, but it’s tacked on. With so many subplots, Fraction’s going to have at least one weak one.

As for the main plot, the mystery of Satellite Sam, Fraction isn’t concentrating on it. Oh, sure, there’s investigating this issue, but that investigation has more to do with the investigators than the mystery. It’s fine, just a little drawn-out.

Some beautiful Chaykin cityscapes this issue too.

B+ 

CREDITS

Jobs; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Howard Chaykin; letterer, Ken Bruzenak; editor, Thomas K.; publisher, Image Comics.

Hawkeye

Hawkeye 14 (January 2014)

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I think it was Ed Brubaker who described “Veronica Mars” as ‘“The Rockford Files” in high school.’ Well, with Kate front and center in L.A., Fraction has turned Hawkeye into ’“The Rockford Files” with a sort of superhero."

The Annie Wu art is a nice fit for Kate’s first case, trying to track down some orchids–Fraction maintains a sense of humor as well as danger. Whether it’s Clint or Kate, Hawkeye always feels like a dangerous book. They might get hurt. Or some cool supporting cast member will get killed.

Fraction manages to tie the odd case into some of the bigger plots going on, all while introducing another subplot for Kate. It’s a nice issue, even if it goes on a little long. There’s also character problem. Fraction writes Kate a lot better than he writes Clint.

Fraction should just give her the book at this point.

CREDITS

L.A. Woman; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Annie Wu; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Sana Amanat, Devin Lewis and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Satellite-Sam

Satellite Sam 4 (October 2013)

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Once again, it’s very hard to follow a lot of Satellite Sam. Fraction has a cast list at the open, but it’s not enough. He needs to keep the cast blurbs for when the people show up in the action story instead.

For example, the issue opens with the lead actress (I think) meeting her crappy mother-in-law for the first time. Then the story moves to something about the broadcasting network, then to some writer getting fired for an indiscretion, then to the other writers (maybe), then to the series’s ostensible lead.

Fraction’s writing is so good, not remembering people doesn’t matter. It always feels like you’re tuning into a great TV show you haven’t been watching with enough attention, but with Chaykin–even though his art on Sam is good–his faces aren’t distinctive.

I love Sam; though it’s clearly meant to be read in a trade.

A- 

CREDITS

Cookiepusher; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Howard Chaykin; letterer, Ken Bruzenak; editor, Thomas K.; publisher, Image Comics.