Matt Fraction

Satellite-Sam

Satellite Sam 11 (February 2015)

Satellite Sam #11

The writing on this issue of Satellite Sam is excellent. Fraction hits every subplot, sort of checks its temperature, stirs it a little, then combines a couple of them into the final scene of the comic.

There’s a lot of plotting and a lot of unfortunate choices and situations. It’s soapy without seeming too soapy. The S&M and drug abuse and swinging certainly give Sam some edge, but there’s also how Fraction approaches the subjects, sans exploitation.

This issue has some character development, a bunch of surprises, another really good scene for the black actor passing as white. He’s practically Fraction’s only sympathetic character in the whole comic. Everyone else has issues. He’s also one things distracting from the comic’s soapiness.

This issue also has Chaykin’s worst art on the comic so far. He’s getting lazy, relying way too much on bad digital effects. But, otherwise, Sam is rocking.

CREDITS

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

Hawkeye

Hawkeye 21 (April 2015)

Hawkeye #21

What’s confusing about this very late issue of Hawkeye is how little anyone is invested in it; Fraction has the most fun when doing a one page scene between Clint and Jessica Drew and Aja manages to do some great design, but not turn it into great art. So what does Fraction do? He goes for a gut shot at the end, just to make Hawkeye feel like it matters.

Only, it’s been so long since Fraction’s done anything interesting with Clint, he’s got way too big a hill to climb.

Strangest is how they handle the “meat” of the issue. The regular tenants of the building fighting the Eastern European mobsters Home Alone-style, as one character puts it. It seems like a very small fight with only a handful of participants. The coordination, both in writing and art, isn’t there.

Maybe Fraction should’ve let someone else finish it.

CREDITS

Rio Bravo; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, David Aja; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Devin Lewis and Sana Amanat; publisher, Marvel Comics.

ODY-C

ODY-C 2 (January 2015)

ODY-C #2

With the second issue of ODY-C, which is definitely easier to follow than the first, it’s still unclear why one should read the comic. Unless he or she is really, really interested in Homer and The Odyssey. Because Fraction and Ward moving the story to a matriarchal galactic adventure really isn’t enough.

Not with Fraction relying on occasional curse words and breaking out of the “space classical” language of the regular exposition to wake up the reader.

For people who love Ward’s art, it might be worth it. But Fraction isn’t doing anything new here. A distant Odysseus who comes off as unlikable? No, that one’s never been done before. Fraction doesn’t have a different take on the characters, he just puts them in different clothing. And it’s not like it’s Gone With the Wind or something subtly familiar.

It’s The Odyssey. It’s been adapted for hundreds of years.

CREDITS

Writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Christian Ward; colorists, Ward and Dee Cunniffe; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; publisher, Image Comics.

ODY-C

ODY-C 1 (November 2014)

ODY-C #1

ODY-C is Matt Fraction and Christian Ward’s retelling of The Odyssey as a space opera, in a matriarchal society. I didn’t know about it being an adaptation going in and it just seemed like Fraction doing a science fiction comic with fantasy nomenclature instead of futuristic stuff.

I didn’t even catch it when the Greek gods showed up. Then, a page later, I got it. And ODY-C stopped being Fraction doing some fantasy crap like everyone else or a indie sci-fi book like everyone else. No, he’s doing a straight adaptation of one of the major classic literary works.

And not just any classic literary work, one most of his readers will be familiar with. ODY-C will be read as it compares. Inventive adaptation is more important than actual writing with such a major work to adapt.

It’s a preplanned event, a reasonably decent one.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Christian Ward; colorists, Ward and Dee Cunniffe; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; publisher, Image Comics.

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.

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)

Satsam6 cover 2a0fb

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)

297090 20140226132533 large

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.