Or – “The Wave Of Comics’ Future.”
Hawkeye has been a revelation from the very first issue, with experimentation in terms of story structure, art and narrative. This issue promises something completely different, as the entire issue is told from the point of view of Lucky the Pizza Dog. Will the experiment pay off? Your Major Spoilers review awaits!
A really fascinating conceit.
The usual brilliance from Aja, but Eliopoulos steals the show.
They killed Grills. :,(
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: David Aja
Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Steve Wacker
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Previously in Hawkeye: Clint Barton, the Avenger known as Hawkeye, has fallen into many situations in his life. Lately, he has become the owner of a particular New York brownstone, gained a new girl in his life (Kate Bishop, the second Hawkeye), crossed swords repeatedly with a gang that he derisively calls ‘The Tracksuit Draculas,’ and basically made a nuisance of himself to many people. Last issue ended with the shocking death of Grills, one of his neighbor/tenants, at the hand of a mysterious assassin whose motives and mission remain obscure. What happens now?
CAN THEY ACTUALLY PULL THIS OFF?
This issue is one that I’ve been very leery of, given the successes that Team Hawkguy have brought to the table. Even when they put everything aside to get the Hurricane Sandy issue out in record time, Fraction and his compadres have been hitting it out of the park, which made the idea of an issue narrated by the dog somewhat frightening. From the very first page, though, this issue is clearly going to be a triumph, as Clint and Kate have an argument while Lucky watches. Because it’s from his perspective, their dialogue balloons are reminiscent of Fraction’s treatment of other languages in previous issues (remember the balloon that said merely “Something French”?), with the words he knows, notably “NO”, “BAD” and “HELP” bolded. Instead of dialogue, though, we see graphic representations of the dog’s understanding of the scene, in the style of the universal language graphics seen on road signs and restroom doors. Lucky is quickly embroiled in the mystery, as it is he who first discovers (with the help of another dog) the body of Grills on the roof, and begins trying to figure out the situation. There’s no easy way to explain how brilliant the story-telling in this issue is, taking Lucky’s limited perspective and understanding, and marrying it to some important ongoing story-moments for Hawkguy and friends…
EVEN WITHOUT WORDS, WE UNDERSTAND A HEART-BREAKING ENDING…
The appearance of the Tracksuit Draculas frightens the poor dog into submission (the symbols used to convey is understanding are simple, but convey his fear perfectly), but his bravery comes through later in the issue, as Pizza Dog is the first of our cast to engage the mysterious new villain in hand-to-paw combat. Aja’s art is utterly charming throughout, and his masterful use of body language and facial expressions makes the plot clear even without the benefit of speech bubbles or narration. Whatever argument Kate and Clint are having (an argument that takes place in the final pages of issue #10, in case you really need to know the specifics), the issue ends with a heart-breaking separation for our two Hawkeyes, and for Lucky himself. Worse still, it’s not quite clear whether there’s any real romantic component to their relationship, which is maddening to read about. Clint and Grills’ discussion is still having ramifications, but even with the out-of-sequence storytelling in play, there’s still bits of the story we haven’t yet seen, and I hope those bits have good news for Mister Barton and Miss Bishop…
THE BOTTOM LINE: THIS IS PRETTY WONDERFUL.
Experimentation with the form in a mainstream superhero comic has become more commonplace, but a perfectly effective and successful experiment is something of a rare beast indeed. Treating the dog as the hero of his own story is a simple, but brilliant idea, and the execution from the creative team pushes it into perfect single issue territory. Hawkeye #11 is a delight, with hidden depths in its seeming simplicity, making me think that Fraction, Aja and company (particularly letterer Chris Eliopoulos, who makes Lucky’s perspective concrete with his amazing design/production work) can do pretty much anything, earning 5 out of 5 stars overall. Even the tragic ending can’t ruin a reading experience this wonderfully assured…