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 20

Alternating Currents: Hawkeye 20, Suzanne and SpencerToday, Suzanne and Spencer Drew are discussing Hawkeye 20, originally released September 10th, 2014.

Drew: Of all the ways a writer can use to emphasize their storytelling beats, shuffling the chronology of the events always demands my attention. I almost called it “distracting” but I think I mean “demands my attention” — I absolutely appreciate that it’s a handy tool in the savvy writer’s toolkit, but we’re so used to perceiving events one after the other that flipping them around feels noticeably alien. Again, I don’t want to imply that it’s inherently bad — there are lots of compelling reasons to tell a story out-of-order — but that it draws attention to itself in ways that aren’t always accounted for. Fortunately, Matt Fraction has routinely proven himself capable of handling (and justifying) these types of stories, making Hawkeye 20 an excellent example of nonlinear narrative done right. Continue reading

Hawkeye 18

hawkeye 18Today, Shelby and Spencer are discussing Hawkeye 18, originally released March 26th, 2014.

Shelby: Everyone needs a reality check every now and again. It’s that moment at the end of a vacation when you first check your work email, when the fantasy you’d been living is revealed to be just that, and it’s time to get back to reality. It’s not a fun feeling, discovering something seemed too good to be true because it was, that the “happily ever after” you thought you had was just a story and now the story’s over. Kate Bishop has been trying to build herself a new reality away from a certain, “needy abusive black hole of crippled emotions,” and it was finally beginning to look like she’d succeeded. Unfortunately, she’s got a massive dose of reality headed her way, and it’s not going to be pretty.

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Cram Session: Hawkeye 1-13

It can be hard to keep up with all the comics you love. But it’s damn near impossible to keep up with all the comics you’re interested in.

Retcon Punch got you covered.

Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye, became the greatest sharpshooter known to man, then he became an Avenger – this is what he does when he’s not being an Avenger. He lives! He loves! He loses! We wrap up the first 13 issues of Hawkeye and explain why Kate Bishop left and why Clint’s so damn sad all the time.

Hawkeye 16

hawkeye 16Today, Spencer and Ethan are discussing Hawkeye 16, originally released January 22nd, 2014.

SpencerHawkeye writer Matt Fraction calls Wednesday “the worst day in comics.” Why? Because it’s the day all the writer’s mistakes “become fixed and permanent.” Yeah, it can be hard for any creative individual to put their work out there and be satisfied with it; personally, sometimes I even have a hard time not going back into these articles after they’ve published to fix them up. Hawkeye 16 provides an object lesson on why we should put our work out there anyway through the life stories of Will and Grey Bryson, brothers and musicians whose relationship has been ruined by the forty years they’ve spent composing their magnum opus. Continue reading

Young Avengers 15

young avengers 15

Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing Young Avengers 15, originally released January 8th, 2014. 

slim-bannerShelby: New Year’s Eve is a night of…well, generally heavy drinking, but it’s also a night of contemplation and renewal. The last year, with it’s good and bad, is over; whether you liked it or not, it’s over, and it’s time to prepare for a fresh start in the new year. I definitely understood that this year, since I moved to a new apartment December 29th. It was a short move, just a block away, but having lived in my last place for 3 years made it a really big change. There’s the “out with the old” as you throw out a bunch of crap you can’t believe you kept for so long, and the “in with the new” as you figure out a new way to arrange your home. Like New Year’s Eve, it’s a bittersweet thing, and Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie (with a little help from their friends) capture it perfectly at the end of their run on Young Avengers. Nothing but spoilers and revelations ahead, folks.
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Black Widow 1

black widow 1

Today, Ethan and Shelby are discussing Black Widow 1, originally released January 8th, 2014. 

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Ethan: Adult life teaches you to juggle. Whether it’s as a stay-at-home parent, working a 9-to-5, or holding down more than one job at the same time, everything comes down to how well you can keep it all in the air. There’s the work-life balance, figuring out how to be in a serious relationship, managing different personalities in the office — there’s never a shortage of things to keep you on your toes. Natalia Romonova, aka Natasha, aka Black Widow knows a thing or two about this, though her version of finding balance is a bit more exotic and demanding than most. That is, unless YOUR average day involves infiltration and throwing people out of windows. Continue reading