Hawkeye #8: Okay, this is my new favorite comic of all time. My previous favorite comic of all time, for the record, was “Hawkeye” #7. I’m just so smitten with this series. This issue sees the return of regular series artist David Aja, who I simply can’t rave enough about.
With this issue he divides each page up into the same three tier layout and then slices up each tier depending on the timing needed for each beat in the scene or the symmetry needed for the page. The result is a visual storytelling experience unlike what anyone else is attempting. These pages virtually read themselves. Whatever that means. Plus the colors used on each page are minimal, and hint at themes and patterns embedded within the story and in the characters, which only enhances the visual communication. Wonderful.
On the writing side, Fraction is once again on point with adorable characters that feel alive and fleshed out and a solid plot that feels simultaneously minimal and high-concept. For this month’s issue he’s playing off of Valentine’s Day by featuring comic book covers within the comic (by the stupendous Annie Wu) which riff on the romance comics of yore. These comics are actually in the issue and play an important role in the story, which adds a further layer of amazing to this beautiful red velvet awesome cake. God, I love this book.
Ultimate Comics X-Men #23: This was one I picked up on a whim because of the cover. I love ’80s punk rock Storm. Probably my favorite super-heroine of all time is ’80s punk rock Storm. Which I guess is great because it seems that the mohawk she used to have is now making a comeback, as she’s started sporting it again in the pages of “Uncanny X-Force.” Anyway, the cover of the issue has a picture Ultimate Storm shaving her hair into a mohawk repeated in a Warhol-esque, candy colored pop art portrait by Greg Land. So yeah, I had to pick it up. Then I noticed the name on the cover said Wood, and I peaked inside and confirmed that this meant Brian Wood, writer of “Demo,” “DMZ,” “Mara” and “Conan: The Barbarian,” all great books, and I was sold.
Thing is, I haven’t read an Ultimate X-Men comic in a long time. I really loved the issues that Mark Millar did when the series began. That run was phenomenal. Right around the time he left the Ultimate U went into a nosedive, with the exception of Ultimate Spider-Man, and it hasn’t really recovered. So this was my first Ultimate X-Men book in a long time, and since it seemed like more of a little character vignette, and one written by a writer I enjoy and featuring ’80s punk rock Storm, I was really hoping that this would be a pleasant little jumping-on point for me with this series.
Boy, was I wrong. I have no idea what the hell was going on in this issue. I know that Storm started off in one place, with Colossus with her, and then ended up in another. With a mohawk. Because mohawk. On the art side, Carlo Barberi does a decent job with the pencils. His double-page spread in the beginning is pretty kick ass, but after that everything calms down and he has to draw a lot of trucks and trees and regular humans in clothes, so the lines become very mechanical and all the figures look like they were drawn by Jim Lee from the neck down. But he spends a lot of time on his backgrounds, and that needs to be commended. Anyway. Yeah.
Young Avengers #2: First of all, designing the recap page as a Tumblr dashboard was a great little in-joke and it totally caught me by surprise, but there is part of me that worries that the corporate overlords are now pandering to a fringe youth demographic or some such cynical thing that is left over from seeing every fresh idea that young people have ever contributed to society get sold back to them as a commodity. But whatever.
I really like what this series promises, I’m all for staying with it for the first few arcs and seeing where it goes, but I had a hard time getting into this issue. The Grant Morrison “Animal Man” stuff with the comic book panels as prison cells thing was fun, although I’m not sure I understood what was happening during that sequence, and Kid Loki was funny, but the whole thing with the mom (stepmom?) as an alien impostor thing just seemed a bit too kiddie for me.
The other thing is, I didn’t really follow these characters in their previous books, so really the ones that brought me to this series were Miss America, who I was introduced to on Tumblr, Marvel Boy, who I understand was created by Grant Morrison, and Kate Bishop, because she’s Hawkeye and she appears in the Hawkeye comic. And none of those characters were in this issue. So while I’m sure lots of fans have been dying to see what Hulkling and Wiccan have been up to (by the way, love when Loki called out Wiccan for using that as his name), I wasn’t all that drawn in by it. However, Jamie McKelvie’s pages are still a joy to look at.
Batman Inc. #8: I don’t know. The store sold out of it before I could get there. Maybe tomorrow?