After a few weeks of meagre pull-lists, this week exploded into an absolute onslaught of awesomeness, including such stellar titles as Daredevil, FF, Jupiter’s Legacy, Justice League, Talon and All-New X-Men (to name but a few). But as I sat, wide-eyed, through all the comic goodness on my list this week, there was one title that managed – yet again – to place itself head and shoulders above the rest.
And so, I give you…
Hawkeye #11 (Marvel Comics)
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: David Aja
Review: “This is what he does pretty much every day, because he is a dog.”
These simple words herald the beginning the eagerly anticipated Lucky (a.k.a. Pizza Dog) issue of long-time BCP favourite, Hawkguy. And I’ll admit, as great as Fraction and Aja’s run on this title has been (and a simple ‘great’ really doesn’t do it justice) the prospect of an entire issue written from the point of view of Barton’s cult icon pooch had me cautiously reserving my judgment.
Well, as it turns out, my reservations were entirely misplaced, as this book is nothing short of a masterpiece in both storytelling and visual design. Despite the book featuring almost zero dialogue, save for the occasional words (“collar”, “bad”, “trouble” etc.) picked up by everyone’s favourite pizza-munching canine, the story is beautifully depicted through a wide variety of inventive, creative and spectacularly effective devices. For example, whenever Lucky sees (or smells) someone, we are shown a series of images that the dog associates with them. Just brilliant, and in a way it makes perfect sense that would be how a dog sees the world.
The story covers a lot of different ground, from light-hearted humour to surprisingly powerful emotional beats, all the while staying 100% true to its high-concept premise. It’s a testament to Fraction’s incredible storytelling abilities that he manages to retain the same charm, wit and intelligence that we have come to associate with his writing without – well – actually writing anything.
And where to begin with Aja’s artwork? As strong as Fraction’s work is here, Aja absolutely knocks this issue out of the park, whether its providing stunningly creative panel layouts (including the aforementioned images whenever Lucky sees or smells something) or managing to cram an incredible amount of character and personality into Lucky’s face as he works his way through his mini ‘adventure’. One of the best artists in the world at the moment doing what he does best, and seemingly having an absolute blast in the process.
The ongoing story is moved forwards as well, so the issue shouldn’t be seen merely as a ‘gimmick’ side-story, and the final panels provide an unexpected gut-punch that took me more than a little by surprise.
So, while it may come across as a predictable fanboy obsession or some BCP-wide bias (although there may be elements of that, I’ll admit) the simple fact remains that this is quite possibly the best title on the shelves at the moment (or, at the absolute worst, top 2 or 3), and you truly owe it to yourselves as comicbook fans to pick it up if you’re not doing so already.
Emotional, humorous, charming, clever, witty, creative… there really aren’t enough words to describe just how good this comic has been since issue one. You need to pick it up, bro. Seriously, bro.
Honourable Mentions: Daredevil #27 (Marvel Comics) by Mark Waid & Chris Samnee very nearly took the top slot with an absolutely stunning conclusion to the last two years of buildup. FF#8 (Marvel Comics) by Matt Fraction continued its light-hearted awesomeness, while Batman/Superman #1 (DC Comics) by Greg Pak brought an interesting story and some jaw-dropping artwork to the first meeting of two of comics’ most well-known characters. Mark Millar’s Jupiter’s Legacy #2 (Image Comics) continued its strong start, buoyed immensely by the artistic genius of Frank Quitley. And finally – although I could list about another half dozen titles – Justice League #21 (DC Comics) by Geoff Johns brough the Shazam back story to the foreground and finished it off in immaculate style.
The Green Team: Teen Trillionaires #2 (DC Comics)
Writer(s): Art Baltazar/Franco
Artist: Ig Guara
Review: Don’t get me wrong, the second issue of DC’s unique look at the “1%” trying to buy their way into the world of superheroism isn’t bad, as such. It’s just a little lacking. The first issue set up an interesting enough premise, but struggled under the weight of exposition and the need to introduce an onslaught of characters without giving many of them much in the way of development. This issue remedies that to an extent, but is still clearly having trouble with establishing its characters, especially when so many of them seem to be – well – rather unlikable, to say the least.
Mohammed, the character who provided the bulk of the narrative for the first issue (and incidentally about the only likeable one in the whole bunch) is pushed into the background here as the story seems to settle on the self-obsessed, vain and vacuous movie star Cecilia Sunbeam. Sadly though, there’s just too much going on to provide any sort of empathy or sympathy for the situation the characters find themselves in, Cecilia in particular.
Yes, there are some enjoyable moments, such as the revelation that Commodore has salvaged , bought and restored an “older version” of the Batmobile, and the humorous quips that surround this. And there’s no denying that the action scenes have a sense of urgency and energy that shows just how out of their depth the kids really are. It’s just that when the story slows down and the characters are just talking to each other, there really isn’t too much to get excited about.
The artwork is solid enough, but reading about a group of ridiculously wealthy kids getting themselves into trouble by trying to play superhero just hasn’t turned out to be as interesting as it sounded. And in today’s comicbook world, with so many extremely high-quality titles hitting the shelves on a weekly basis, I really don’t have the patience to stick with less-than-stellar books in the hope they turn themselves around.
The book may improve once it gains a little more traction, and I’ll happily hop back in again later down the line, but for the time being, Green Team has to go.
(Dis)Honourable Mentions: Shockingly, of the sixteen titles I picked up this week, this was the only one that could be considered less than ‘great’. A true testament to both the quality of comics at the moment, and the effective nature of my recent ‘cull’.
Hawkeye #11/Daredevil #27 (Marvel)
Covers by Chris Samnee/David Aja
Aja or Samnee? Samnee or Aja? With stunning covers this week by two of my favourite three artists at the moment (alongside a certain Mr Lee), I simply couldn’t decide between them. Both artists displaying their characteristically straightforward design, using a striking image with some clever use of colour to create an eye-catching and appealing cover. Cracking stuff from both guys, and – admittedly – a bit of a cop-out on my part. Bite me.
And that, as they say, is that. Let me know what you guys thought, and what you enjoyed (and didn’t enjoy) from this week’s comic crop.
And don’t forget to tune in again next Saturday. Same Ceej time, same Ceej channel!
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