Matt Fraction

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.

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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.

Sex Criminals 2 (October 2013)

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Yawn. Why yawn? Because Fraction doesn’t have a story. He’s still explaining the Force. Sorry, the Quiet. In Sex Criminals, it’s the Quiet. It’s where our too cool leads go when they orgasm and then they do all sorts of stuff. Like rob banks or hangout at adult bookstores.

Fraction goes on and on with the guy’s life story and only gets up to him being like fifteen. None of it’s particularly interesting, but it’s all supposed to be very funny. And it might have been funny back in 1993 before Clerks, certainly before Superbad.

There’s also the situation with the female protagonist. She’s always making these little asides to the reader, but without forcing her personality on everyone, Fraction doesn’t realize she’s boring.

He’s got a concept, a cast and absolutely nowhere to go with it. Worse, the issue reads way too fast since he’s trying to hide stuff.

CREDITS

Come, World; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Chip Zdarsky; colorists, Christopher Sebela and Zdarsky; editor, Thomas K.; publisher, Image 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.

Sex Criminals 1 (September 2013)

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Sex Criminals is about a young woman whose orgasms cause her to enter some sort of time-slowed state where, or so the very soft cliffhanger implies, she commits crime with her boyfriend, who has the same power.

I’m more curious if Matt Fraction was implying she doesn’t have a college education. There was a scene with her and the guy talking and it left that impression. She reads all the books an American lit major would read. The literary references are Criminals’s weakest point, Fraction’s trying too hard.

He does a lot of nice moves through the narrative, with the protagonist telling her story and it jumping back, forward, back, forward. It flows nicely. It’s just kind of shallow. So far, Fraction only has the MacGuffin. Who cares if the protagonist wants to save her public library from the evil local bank?

Chip Zdarsky’s art’s a perfect fit though.

CREDITS

Suzie Down in the Quiet; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Chip Zdarsky; colorist, Becka Kinzie; editor, Thomas K.; publisher, Image Comics.

Satellite-Sam

Satellite Sam 3 (September 2013)

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Fraction goes all out. It’s also the loosest Chaykin art so far; still looks good, but there’s definitely a hurried “quality” about it.

But the story? Amazing. Fraction’s bringing all the pieces together. He’s got Michael–Satellite Sam’s son–teaming up with Kara–the former squeeze–talking and finding out a bunch of things, making a mystery story all of a sudden.

He’s also running full power with the TV plot and machinations going on. There are the guys fighting about the FCC coming to power–with some tawdriness thrown in, which actually is the closest the issue comes to humor, even it’s sad at the same time.

One of the studio guys gets transfixed on video feedback; that one might be funnier, though it’s a tad disquieting too.

Plus Fraction’s got a flashback of the titular (dead) guy and the girl’s awful trip back from Mexico.

Full, awesome issue.

CREDITS

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

Hawkeye

Hawkeye 12 (September 2013)

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Wait, didn’t the dog go the California? Last time I suggested Fraction should release a guide to understanding his plotting for Hawkeye but at this point I think the word is “needs.” It’s all so confusing.

Clint’s brother shows up and gets into a fight with the gangsters. Now, this fight ties into at least the last issue but maybe one or two before that one.

Most of the issue is just Barney–Clint’s brother–flashing back to their childhood while he tries to get money to get drunk. He also kicks some butt–including in scenes Fraction previously implied were Clint (I think).

It’s a really good issue. Fraction has figured out how to do the Brubaker done-in-one issue with a side character, even if he does try way too hard to tie it in.

Francavilla does quite well on the art, especially on the childhood flashbacks.

CREDITS

Writer, Matt Fraction; artist and colorist, Francesco Francavilla; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Tom Brennan and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.