Hawkeye #13 – Fraction / Aja / Hollingsworth

2It’s been such a long wait, but finally Hawkeye #13 is here. Honestly, I adore this title so much that even a month is too long between issues. Two and a half? Be right back, I’m in the corner shaking from withdrawal and telling myself everything is going to be okay.

Hawkeye #13 revolves around the aftermath of Grills’ death, which is a bit of a backtrack after Annual #1. I’m a big fan of nonlinear storytelling, but for those who aren’t, it could take a few pages before clicking to what’s going on. Don’t expect any Pizza Dog innovation here, but Aja is in fine form with his consistently beautiful art and page design, and Fraction’s strength in dialogue and character nuance shine.

Now let’s be honest here for a minute. Clint has a lot of man-pain in this series. Like… a lot of man-pain. What I really like about Fraction’s take on Clint’s personal demons though, is that his man-pain isn’t facilitated by fridging the women in his life, and he’s never removed of his own personal agency despite outward appearances. He chooses to deal with things in a shitty way. Clint is like us – a person who makes reactionary decisions that sometimes alienate those around him – ultimately endearing him to us as readers.

This book revolves around Clint reacting an awful lot. He reacts to Grills’ death. He reacts to working with Jessica after their break up. He reacts to Kate leaving with Lucky. He doesn’t react to everything in crappy ways, but even when he does, it’s incredibly stirring, heartbreaking, and real. When he makes good choices, they become even more poignant – a hug for Grills’ father, introducing Barney to the bropartment barbecuers – touching moments in the life of someone who is so well written, I sometimes believe he could be a real person.

Aja’s art is, as usual, pretty much faultless. As an artist myself, I really do struggle to understand how someone can put so much expression into a style so (deceptively) simple. Matt Hollingsworth’s colours are consistent in their muted beauty, conveying changes in perspective and narrative without ever feeling jarring or out of place, and he’s also very skilled in creating moods with a very limited palette.

Over all, Hawkeye #13 is an excellent issue that ties together a few storylines, knitting a story that’s otherwise jumped about together very effectively, while packing a real emotional punch. Thank goodness the next part is only a couple of weeks away, because I’m only being more and more sucked in as this title progresses.

Review: Daredevil End of Days – Bendis/Janson et al

Review: Daredevil End of DaysI’m late, so late. It was only because I had the opportunity to actually turn up in person to my comic shop of choice (I’m a mail order customer), that I stumbled across the Daredevil: End of Days mini-series. Slated for eight issues, four were already in store and the cover artwork had me picking them up right away. Sure, I’m a Daredevil completionist, so I would have grabbed them anyway, but after consuming the first issue it became apparent that this was going to be one of the best Daredevil story arcs in a lot of years. Even taking into account the recent superb Mark Waid run on the monthly title.

I’ll get onto why I so rapt, but be aware there are spoilers, so stop reading here if that’s a concern and get out and buy these issues while they’re still on the shelves.

So why is it so good?

1. Sentimentality: if you lived through Frank Miller and Klaus Janson’s famous Daredevil run, the return of Elektra, The Kingpin and Bullseye to name three, is a hook hard to avoid. Add in to that the fact that Klaus Janson is doing pencils on End of Days and it becomes a no-brainer. Oh, and there’s also Typhoid Mary, Echo and The Punisher by end of issue #4.

2. Story: sometimes it seems that Brian Michael Bendis can do no wrong, and this series’ effort alongside David Mack is not going to  dispel that perception at all. Using the veteran reporter Ben Urich as the narrator works superbly and the persona of an aging man in an ever-changing society is captured perfectly. Daredevil is dead a few pages into the first issue, so a good story becomes even more critical and it’s delivered in spades.

3. Art: aside from the sentimental aspect of Klaus Janson penciling this book, the whole art team have pulled off a supreme effort. It’s dark, gritty and engaging work. Bill Sienkiewicz’s finished art is of the quality I’d happily pay out big bucks for in a poster format. Take note please Marvel.

Overall, Daredevil: End of Days is one of the best Marvel stories I’ve read in the past three years. If work of this quality was done across the board, there’d be a hell of a lot more people reading comics across the board. If you live near a comic shop, get your arse in there and see if they have the first bunch of issues. If not, buy them digitally or start the countdown to the trade – I think I might buy it to hand around to a few people to get them back into comics.

Score: 9.5/10