Hawkeye Vol. 4: A Great Conclusion to a Great Run

I’d like to thank Hawkeye Vol. 4 (Rio Bravo) for making me cry at the public pool. No, really. The other moms didn’t think it was weird at all. Jeez.

Since 2012, Matt Fraction and artist David Aja have been writing a Hawkeye comic for Marvel. This comic tells the story of “What Hawkeye does when he’s not Avenging.” Hawkeyes, AKA Clint Barton, adopts a dog, he trains his protege, Young Avenger Kate Bishop, (she gets several issues of her own drawn by Annie Wu), he fights with his ex, he drinks too much, and he gets beat up a ton. What makes this run so great is that Clint, on his off hours, isn’t trying to save the world – he’s trying to save his apartment building, and getting his ass royally kicked in the process.

This run is never gimmicky, but it’s often experimental and meta. There’s an issue (#3) in which Clint decides to sort his trick arrows. For complex reason, he and Kate find themselves in a car chase with one bag of arrows – Kate grabbed the un-labeled trick arrows on her way out the door. Hilarity,. mayhem, and a lon, long payoff joke ensure. There’s an episode in which a great deal is communicated via sign language, and an episode in which Clint dreams that he’s a character in a kids’ TV show. Above all, there’s an issue that takes place entirely from the point of view of the dog (Lucky, known to fans as Pizza Dog). In this issue( #11), people talk over Pizza’s Dog’s head, but the only words we see are ones Pizza Dog knows (I was impressed by “Collar stays.” How, I wondered, would the dog know what collar stays are? He doesn’t, bu the words are legible because he knows “Collar” and “stay.”)

Here’s a short and incomplete list of reasons I love this run – the last volume just came out and I can’t urge you enough to run out and buy all four and have a glorious binge. I didn’t even like Hawkeye before this run. It’s a jewel among comics.

  1. Pizza Dog.
  2. Everything else on here should be Pizza Dog.
  3. The Russian Gansters who inexplicably say, “Bro, bro” all the time. In Hawkeye’s dream, Hawkeye is a dog and the Gangsters are wolves who say, “Dog, dog.”
  4. Clint’s brother Barney.
  5. Kate Bishop. LOVE HER. LOVE HER ARC.
  6. The humor.
  7. The heartwarming stuff
  8. Everyone in the apartment and how they use Clint’s TV because he broke the satellite dish (with an arrow)
  9. Boomerang arrow.

As is so tragically often the case, io9 says things much better than I do in their post “6 Reasons Why Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye is One of Marvel’s Greatest Comics” by James Whitbrook. So go read that, and then read Hawkeye. Or skip to Hawkeye. Because Pizza Dog, Bro.

Book Review: I Am Princess X, by Cherie Priest

I Am Princess X is incredibly riveting and clever, although it loses a lot of its narrative daring about two-thirds of the way through. This would be a bigger problem if not for the fact that you can read the whole book in just a few hours – it’s short and fast-moving. So by the time you get to the more conventional style you are almost done with the book anyway.

Libby and May became best friends when they were both nine, and they started writing a series of comics and stories about Princess X. May wrote the stories and Libby drew the pictures. A few years later, Libby and her mom died in a car accident. But a few years after the accident, May starts seeing “I Am Princess X” stickers everywhere and she discovers a webcomic that clearly refers to her and Libby. Is Libby alive?

The book combines the format of a novel and the comic format, as May reads the comic for clues. Eventually the comic format is largely dropped – which is unfortunate, because the parts of the story told in comic format are incredibly effective and scary. The book suffers when it becomes less of a mystery and more a straight forward catch the bad guy story.

There are some missteps in the book in addition to the change in style. One odd thing about the book is its insistence on explaining pretty basic terms. Honestly, this book is aimed at teens. Are there any teens who don’t know what “Dropbox” is? Also, May finds an ally who is a hacker. He is in trouble because he was, frankly, a criminal douchebag to his ex-girlfriend. I never liked this character but I felt like I was supposed to like him even though he expresses no remorse and no acknowledgement of how harmful his actions towards his ex would have been had he not gotten caught. A reformed jerk has to, you know, reform. They have to take responsibility for their past actions, not just try to clean up with new ones. His character was so weirdly drawn that I felt like there was a subplot involving him being a villain that was dropped.

Still, the book is well-worth checking out just for the first two-thirds of the book, which is inventive, mysterious, horrifying, exciting, and moving. I had literal chills as certain clues were revealed and I was just desperate to figure out what was going on. If there’s a sequel, I’ll read it. As much as I love to read romance, I was thrilled that this YA does NOT include a romance. It keeps the focus on the friendship between Libby and May.