Review – Hawkeye: L.A. Woman

Cover of Hawkeye: LA Woman by Matt FractionHawkeye: L.A. Woman, Matt Fraction, Annie Wu, Javier Pulido

This volume of Hawkeye collects a bunch of issues about the younger, cuter Hawkeye, Kate Bishop. What I kinda don’t get is how much like Clint she acts — she’s not the serious, dedicated leader of the Young Avengers here at all (and she doesn’t once that I can think of contact any of her team). The volume is mostly made up of new characters, aside from Kate and the antagonist, Madame Masque.

It’s fun, and the art is okay — I don’t like it as much as Aja’s — but I like Kate Bishop self-assured and telling Noh-Varr he’s a jerk, or helping Billy and Teddy save the world with love. We don’t get to see the Young Avengers off-duty like this much, which I guess is the format of these Hawkeye comics, but… I don’t know. And I half-expected her to come out with lines from Fraction’s Sex Criminals series: “This fucking guy”, etc.

She does still kick ass, but she also gets her ass kicked a lot, and often due to naivety and inexperience. Which is great, but, uh, the Young Avengers have taken down some pretty big threats, actually. Girl knows what she’s doing — and she has a support network other than Clint and her dad. A phone call to Billy or Teddy would’ve gone down well, Tommy could have been at her side in literally seconds, and America Chavez would gleefully have stomped Madame Masque’s faces. David could probably have set her up with a database, never mind files, if she’s gonna be a PI. Like, with Clint you can get him not asking for backup, because he’s a dummy. Kate isn’t. I’d at least have liked to see her think about calling her team, especially when she believes people are dying.

I don’t know, I guess one superhero being a dummy is kind of funny. Two is apparently overkill for me. Did like the gay couple who help her, though.

Rating: 2/5

Review – Hawkeye: Little Hits

Cover of Hawkeye vol 2 by Fraction and AjaHawkeye: Little Hits, Matt Fraction, David Aja, Matt Hollingsworth, Chris Eliopoulous

Clint Barton continues to be a trainwreck in everyday life. And Kate Bishop continues to care about him even though he’s really kind of a loser in many ways. And Clint has a really great dog. That pretty much sums up book two. And the whole run could probably summed up with, “Clint Barton makes poor life choices.”

I’m not 100% into this comic, but I do enjoy it, and Fraction and Aja are certainly very creative, funny, and willing to take risks. Sometimes I find that their style of storytelling doesn’t work for me — I’m not a visual person, so the 95% visuals issue “Pizza Is My Business” was difficult for me, and that’s not the only time they rely on very visual storytelling. So I think my reaction is a pretty idiosyncratic one; it’s a bit weird that I’m even into comics, since visual storytelling is hard for me, and the best comics really make use of that in combination with the words, instead of illustrating the words.

Still, reading it again helped somewhat with comprehension, and I’ll keep that in mind as I get onto LA Woman and Rio Bravo.

Rating: 3/5

Review – Sex Criminals: Two Worlds, One Cop

Cover of Sex Criminals vol 2 by Matt FractionSex Criminals: Two Worlds, One Cop, Matt Fraction, Chip Zdarsky

No, really, what the hell am I reading?

I like that this discusses depression. I like that Suzie and Jon aren’t automatically super happy forever just because they can both stop time with their orgasms. I like that Jon goes to therapy, and the first therapist doesn’t do him much good, and that the one who does begin to help (and it is only beginning) is idiosyncratically suited to him. That’s the way it works. (I’m not as keen on the exhortation to get out there and exercise ’cause that’ll fix it. It’s true for some people. It’s not always true, and it’s not always possible.) I like the portrayal of Jon’s depression where he goes all grey and there’s a bad Jon-voice telling him everything’s terrible, and the meds level him out and take the edge off everything. That, too, rings true.

It’s also cool that the porn star from the first book is fleshed out a bit, and has a whole backstory of her own and a relevance to the plot. Also cool that female sexual health is a key thing, and that it acknowledges that not all women like the same stuff, just as they don’t think or act the same way. Whether they’re porn stars or not.

The plot, though? The timeline is all over the place, Jon is kinda creepy sometimes, and I just do not care about all this sex. And it’s difficult to root for people who’re using secret powers to rob banks, however noble the cause — or at least, it’s difficult to find someone trying to stop them totally evil.

I think there’s two strikes against me and this comic here: one, I don’t have that kind of sense of humour. We’re pretty sure I have one, but you need a microscope. This is not the kind of humour that works for me, nor the kind of weird that I find interesting. And two, I’m ace, and I just do not understand the appeal of all this sex. I don’t know if that’s playing into my lack of shits about this series, but probably.

Rating: 2/5

Review – ODY-C

Cover of ODY-C vol 1 by Matt FractionODY-C, Matt Fraction, Christian Ward

Wha… what did I just read? I’d vaguely heard of ODY-C before I picked it up for my partner in Chapters, and I thought it sounded pretty cool: genderflipped space-faring retelling of The Odyssey, done by Matt Fraction who is at least consistently entertaining, even if his humour isn’t always my thing and I’d rather worship at his wife’s altar, comic-wise.

The description on the front pretty much nails it: “A trippy, gender-flipped version of Homer’s Odyssey hurtling through space on psychedelic, science fiction wings.” Thanks, Wired. You said it so I don’t have to. And I guess there are people who love that kind of thing, but I don’t. The correspondences to The Odyssey weren’t actually close enough, for me; there’s this whole new backstory that changes everything. The backstory is cool, but… there’s so much going on here, I kind of wanted the familiarity of the original story to keep me with it.

The art is not a style I love, though it definitely fits the psychedelic nature of the comic, and some of it is pretty striking. Not a comic I’m going to keep up with, though — it’s just so completely not my thing in execution.

Rating: 1/5

Review – Sex Criminals: One Weird Trick

Cover of Sex Criminals: One Weird Trick by Matt Fraction & Chip ZdarskySex Criminals: One Weird Trick, Matt Fraction, Chip Zdarsky

And now for something completely different to Nimona! Obviously, Sex Criminals is a pretty adult comic, though it’s not actually an “adult comic” in the sense of being porn. It just has a lot of sex-related humour and, of course, a completely bizarre sex-related premise: what if your orgasms could stop time?

It’s very ridiculous, with some fun art and quirky narration. It gets a bit confusing timeline-wise between what’s happening when and in what sequence, how people know other stuff. It’s also strangely cute, the relationship between Suzie and Jon: “this guy. This fucking guy.” And the holding hands, the immediate obsession, the way they talk about what happened to them and the coming-of-age aspects of it… Yeah, surprisingly cute.

It basically is one big bizarre idea carried to extremes, and I probably wouldn’t have picked it up myself — I just borrowed it after my partner grabbed it. It is funny, and weird, and perhaps worth a try if you don’t mind a lot of sex-based humour and some grossness.

Rating: 3/5

Review – Hawkeye: My Life As a Weapon

Cover of Hawkeye vol 1 by Matt FractionHawkeye: My Life as a Weapon, Matt Fraction, David Aja, Javier Pulido, Alan Davis

Reread this ’cause I couldn’t remember much about it, and I have volume three to read now and volume four to read as soon as they stop procrastinating and actually bring it out. I love the consistency of most of the art in this series, which suits the tone perfectly, though it makes the included bit from Young Avengers Presents look particularly out of place (and man, had I ever forgotten that Tommy’s crush on Kate was obvious even there).

This is a pretty relaxed comic. It’s not really about the superhero, Hawkeye, one of the Avengers; it’s about Clint Barton and Kate Bishop and all the trouble they can get into when they don’t have their teams backing them up. It’s about Clint being a dummy and Kate being really awesome and all the weird and wonderful arrows Clint has, some of which I’m sure refer to other comics (that you don’t have to know about it to make it funny). I love the generally irreverent tone of this: however much I adore Steve Rogers, and however much of a snarky little shit he can be, Clint Barton’s something else when it comes to doing stupid stuff and being an idiot about it.

Still not my favourite comic ever (hello, Captain Marvel) but pretty awesome all the same.

Rating: 4/5

Review – The Invincible Iron Man: Demon

Cover of Invincible Iron Man: Demon  by Matt FractionThe Invincible Iron Man: Demon, Matt Fraction, Salvador Laracca

This, for me, was one of those volumes which proves you don’t always have to keep up with every bit of every storyline to still enjoy parts of the larger arc. It was also the first time I really got enthused about Matt Fraction’s storytelling: I need to reread the Hawkeye books now that I’m more invested in the character, since it was sort of inevitable that I didn’t get on too well with his work on Thor — I’m not that big a fan of Thor (sorry honey). But when he’s working on Iron Man, well, Tony Stark’s got himself attached to my heartstrings somehow, and goodness does Fraction know how to work that.

Most of the book revolves around fallout from the Fear Itself event, which I only know a little about. I don’t know exactly what happened when Tony fell off the wagon, or why Pepper’s in disgrace over Rescue and something to do with her crying. I only know a little bit about Cabe and the various villains up against Tony. What I know about the main players is mostly based on the cinematic universe.

And yet. I still care passionately about Tony and his struggle with alcoholism, about his battle of wits with the Mandarin, about what’s happening with him and Rhodey and the struggle with the government to control Iron Man. (I was surprised there weren’t more laughs milked out of it when Tony ended up naked in battle.)

One or two things drove me a little nuts, like why would Tony voluntarily install the limiter? Without dismantling it first and checking if it is everything they say? If he did, how did they take him by surprise and make it hard for him to remove? Why didn’t he see that coming? Or was everything that happened in that battle planned?

I think it’ll take the next TPB or so to find out the answers to all my questions, but in a way, this was satisfying on its own in the sense that I jumped in, got captured by the story, had my heartstrings yanked, and enjoyed the experience without needing to know all the context.

Rating: 4/5

Review – The Mighty Thor: The Galactus Seed

Cover of The Mighty Thor by Matt FractionThe Mighty Thor: The Galactus Seed, Matt Fraction, Olivier Coipel

I’ve never been quite as fond of Fraction’s work as others seem to be, but given his reputation I’m willing to keep trying. The Mighty Thor is okay; there are some fun moments, and it does feature kid!Loki, who is probably the most interesting character in the comic. That whole refresh of Loki’s character remains interesting to me because it plays with all sorts of stuff, bringing back the ambiguity of his character from the original legends rather than any straightforward comicbook villain stuff. (Some people don’t like that because it seems to be part of the woobification of Loki prompted by Hiddleston fans, but I see it there in the source material.)

Otherwise, the Galactus/Silver Surfer stuff seemed fairly routine — I knew how it’d go from playing Lego Marvel Superheroes, y’know? It’s not like there’s any real danger of Galactus being allowed to eat Earth.

Rating: 2/5