All-New Hawkeye 3

all new hawkeye 3

Today, Spencer and Taylor are discussing All-New Hawkeye 3, originally released May 27th, 2015.

Spencer: Matt Fraction’s run on Hawkeye got a lot of mileage out of a deceptively simple mission statement: “Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye, became the greatest sharpshooter known to man. He then joined the Avengers. This is what he does when he’s not being an Avenger.” What Clint does when not being an Avenger is an insanely broad concept, but in Fraction’s run it quickly narrowed into a focus on how Clint handled loss. When tasked with the duty of following up on a run as iconic as Fraction’s, it’s no surprise that Jeff Lemire flipped everything on its head, changing the mission statement to “This is what [Clint Barton and Kate Bishop] do when they do what they do best.” Lemire’s concept of focusing on Clint as a super-hero is even broader than Fraction’s, and as I’ve pored over the last few issues of All-New Hawkeye, I’ve been waiting for his story to similarly build some kind of deeper overarching theme. This month’s issue in particular is almost screaming that it has some sort of deeper meaning or underlying message, yet I’m struggling to come up with one. I’m starting to think that I’ve been approaching this title all wrong. If this is a book about what Clint and Kate do when they do what they do best, then maybe what’s most important are the actual details of what they’re doing. Fortunately, those details are pretty charming. Continue reading

All-New Hawkeye 2

Alternating Currents: All-New Hawkeye 2, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing All-New Hawkeye 2, originally released April 8th, 2015.

Drew: I’m sure many folks have forgotten Cursed, the one-season NBC sitcom about a man cursed with bad luck in its pilot episode, but I’ll never forget it. Not because it was particularly good — I’ve actually forgotten almost everything about it — but because of its abrupt title change. Suddenly, Cursed, the high-concept sitcom about bad luck had become The Weber Show, a series so generic, its most distinctive characteristic was apparently the presence of former Wings star Steven Weber. That was my first lesson in the dangers of a narrative tying itself to a limiting premise, a problem I’ve found to be relatively ubiquitous in modern culture. All-New Hawkeye is far from the disaster that Cursed was, but as issue 2 strains against the flashback structure that worked so beautifully in issue 1, I find myself wondering if that structure is more of a prison than a springboard. Continue reading

All-New Hawkeye 1

all new hawkeye 1

Today, Spencer and Taylor are discussing All-New Hawkeye 1, originally released March 4th, 2015.

Spencer: It’s hard to escape the fact that our pasts, and especially our childhoods, play a defining role in our lives. That doesn’t mean that people can’t recover from troubled pasts, but simply that what we experience when we’re young tends to shape our personalities and color our perceptions of the world in significant ways. This is certainly true for Clint Barton, one of the two titular stars of Jeff Lemire, Ramón Pérez and Ian Herring’s All-New Hawkeye 1. Clint’s transformed from a troubled, abused child and thief to one of the world’s mightiest heroes, but there are still plenty of parallels between his past and his present, showing that, as much as things change, they still stay the same. Continue reading

Hawkeye 21

Alternating Currents: Hawkeye 21, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Hawkeye 21, originally released February 4th, 2015.

I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it…

Justice Potter Stewart

Drew: I’ve never been a fan of classifications in art. I could go on at length about how sub-subgenres eventually become too specific to have any utility, while broader classifications face the opposite problem of being to general, but my real issue is that our definitions fall apart under scrutiny. We tend to accept the kind of “I know it when I see it” definition of basically every category we have, from gender to genre, but most working definitions have to allow for so many exceptions that they lose all meaning. Take “superhero” for example. We all have a lose idea of who a superhero is, what they do, how they act, but to try and pin down the definition reveals that none of those things are fixed. Are they heroic (courageous, noble, selfless)? Many are, sure, but there are plenty of antiheroes muddying up any moral definition. What about superpowers? Again, lots do, but with so many non-powered superheroes, it’s hardly a criteria. The closest I can come up with is based on our relationship to superheroes — namely, that we expect their actions to lead to their success. In that way, I’d like to posit Clint Barton — particularly as depicted in Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye — as an antisuperhero. Continue reading

Hawkeye 19

hawkeye 19

Today, Spencer and Courtney are discussing Hawkeye 19, originally released July 30th, 2014.

Spencer: My best friend is an artist, and he constantly complains that I read my comics too fast, that I don’t pay enough attention to the art. I’ll admit it, he has a point; I’m so eager to read the story that I often devour my comics, and miss things in the art I don’t catch until my second or third time through a book. There was no way I could do that with Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye 19, though. This issue demands that you slow down and pay attention to every detail. It’s a challenging read in many ways, but it’s a challenge that’s absolutely worth attempting. Continue reading

Hawkeye 17

hawkeye 17Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Hawkeye 17, originally released March 12th, 2014.

SpencerHawkeye is consistently one of the most daring comic books on the shelf. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always making the biggest, most shocking moves, but it does mean that anything’s fair game when it comes to this book. An issue told from the point of view of the dog? Sure! Killing off a beloved supporting character then spending months and months revisiting the event from every conceivable angle? Why not?! Separating the main characters then dividing up the narrative between them? Seems do-able! Matt Fraction doesn’t shy away from taking risks with Hawkeye, no matter how strange or mundane, and Hawkeye 17 is one of the strangest of all. Fortunately, it’s charming as all get out. Maybe that’s the true legacy of Hawkeye: the risks always pay off. Continue reading

Hawkeye 15

hawkeye 15Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Hawkeye 15, originally released February 26th, 2014.

SpencerWhy do we love Clint Barton so much? I could probably devote my entire word count to the reasons, but the one that sticks in my head is that he’s heroic, but still endearingly flawed. Clint screws up a lot, but he’s always trying to do the right thing, no matter how badly he goes about it. Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye 15 reveals that Clint’s attempts to save his building are less than legal and have only pushed the Tracksuits to more desperate measures. But despite it all, I can’t help but like the guy even more; his heart’s in the right place. Continue reading

Hawkeye 13

hawkeye 13Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing Hawkeye 13, originally released October 16th, 2013.

Shelby: FINALLY! Six months ago, something terrible happened to our favorite hot mess Clint Barton. I won’t spoil it here before the jump, but if you’ve been reading this title you know what I’m talking about. Matt Fraction has taken us on a whirlwind tour of everyone’s involvement and reactions, and I mean everyone: the man responsible, Kate, Lucky the Dog, even Clint’s brother. The one voice who’s been silent is the one I’ve been most eager to hear. That is, of course, Clint, and finally today Fraction, David Aja, and Matt Hollingsworth tell us Clint’s side of the story. It’s exactly as heartbreaking and lonely as you would expect.
Continue reading

Hawkeye Annual 1

hawkeye annual 1

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Hawkeye Annual 1, originally released July 24th, 2013.

Patrick: My favorite comedic bit in any issue of any comic I’ve ever read is conversation Clint Barton has with his buddy Grills about his superhero identity. “Hawkguy?” “Hawkeye.” It’s so endearing that most of us just call the character Hawkguy now and smile on the inside. So, when this issue sees a nervous Kate Bishop accidentally introduce herself as “Kate Hawkguy, Bishop,” it’s hard not to draw immediate comparisons to the very mentor she’s trying to distance herself from. Lucky for Kate (and for us), she’s only inherited his most charming character traits. Continue reading

Hawkeye 12

Alternating Currents: Hawkeye 12, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Hawkeye 12, originally released July 10th, 2013.

DrewWhat is it that excites you most about a narrative? Or, what element of a story is so important to you that you might overlook other issues? Obviously, there’s a baseline for quality, but in a pinch, some of us might excuse weak plotting if the character work is good, or flat characters if the story is exciting enough. For me, that magic element is form. I’m willing to excuse wrote plotting or stiff characters as long as the story is told to me in a new way. Hawkeye has never suffered from either of those problems, but its recent discursive plotting and focus on seemingly every character except Clint has the potential to bore plot- and character-philes. Its form, on the other hand, has been absolute crackerjacks. Issue 8 kicked of a series of issues — each from a different perspective — that have revisited scenes time and again, each offering a different perspective on the events. It’s part Roshomon, part A/B plotting, creating a hybrid form that keeps each episode emotionally satisfying, all while weaving an incredibly dense chain of events. Hawkeye 12 adds Barney Barton to the mix, mining a great deal of pathos from the brothers’ childhood. Continue reading