Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Staff Review: Hawkeye: my life as a weapon

 Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon was my first ever "superhero comic." I admit it, I'm a snob. Maybe snob isn't quite the right word because at the same time that I avoided superhero comics, I've been happily consuming superhero cartoons, movies, etc. I was leery for two reasons:
    1) With series that have been in publication for decades, with complex relationships, backstories, and alternate universes, it's really hard to know where to start.

    2) My perception of superhero comics as just a little sexist, and thus not for me.

    Like millions of other people around the globe, I watched and enjoyed Joss Whedon's Avengers movie. Of course, I also left wondering how some dude with a bow and arrows wound up on a superhero team with, well, actual superheroes. Although I was happy enough to see a dude in the role of damsel in distress, until he's needed in the epic final battle, of course.

    I didn't think I'd hear anything else about Hawkeye before the inevitable Avengers 2: Out for Vengence (I am making this title up). Except that people whose judgment I trust started talking about The Hawkeye Initiative (link sometimes NSFW), Hawkguy, and Pizza Dog.
    Illustration by Noelle "Gingerhaze" Stevenson
    The Hawkeye Initiative invites artists to contort Hawkeye into the less practical poses one sometimes finds the female characters in comic books drawn into. It's a humorous take on an issue that, to be fair, is not limited to superhero comics. Add in the fact that Hawkeye is portrayed as a character who would be more than okay with sexy posing to agitate for change, and you've got my attention.

    Hawkguy and Pizza Dog are references to the comics written by Matt Fraction and illustrated (primarily) by David Aja. That Aja is not the illustrator for all of the issues is my only real complaint about a book that is otherwise fun.This is a series that pokes fun at the characters and the world they live in. It's almost a mash-up of the quirky slice of life stories I love in graphic novels with crazy heroics and exciting action sequences. In one scene you'll have a rooftop block party, and in another a high speed car chase (with Mini Coopers, of course).
    Kate Bishop is my second favorite character, after Pizza Dog.

    If, like me, you only know Clint Barton and his alter ego Hawkeye from seeing The Avengers, you won't have any trouble following this story. In fact, if all you know is that Clint Barton is good at shooting arrows and getting himself into trouble, that's enough. Kate Bishop (also a crime fighting archer, and also known as Hawkeye) was an unexpected, but delightfully snarky surprise. Fraction's writing is, as I mentioned, quirky, and the stories tend to play out in somewhat non-linear fashion. Issues often start with Clint in some horrible position, and then back up to show us how he got there.

    The fifth issue collected in this volume does veer towards over the top soap opera villainy, but I was able to stumble through without having to look up anyone in Wikipedia. I was also least fond of the art in this issue. I'm sure part of my dislike comes the fact that I'm not accustomed to having the artist on a graphic novel change from chapter to chapter, but it was rather jarring to have the characters look so different. Illustrator Javier Pulido does a fine job, but he's not David Aja.

    I might have a bit of an art crush on David Aja. His lines are interesting to look at, and he makes an excellent use of shadows. It's such an interesting balance of flowing precision. There's a great sense of motion, and the characters are so expressive. I found myself coming back to the page where Clint focuses on making a trick shot again and again.
    Isn't David Aja's art just the best? *sigh*
    ~Sarah, Adult Services

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