Monday, 24 December 2012

Eye On Hawkeye #6 pt. 2

Or my apparently regular feature gushing about Matt Fraction and David Aja's Hawkeye because this book is perfect.

Wherein I continue my wonky analysis of how great Hawkeye is and say nice things about the creators. This is my second post for number six because this is an amazing comic book. To read me gush about David Aja read the last one, and to hear me say very nice things about Matt Fraction read on.

Okay, so many *SPOILERS* to follow.

Again, I'd like to point out that Hawkeye is a highly collaborative comic where there isn't the clearest distinction between writer and artist. I'm going to be a hack and give all the writing credit to Matt Fraction, but you should be aware that David Aja probably also deserves some of the credit.

So I think it's obvious by now that I really, really like Hawkeye. So far most of my love has been poured on the art (which is phenomenal). This might create the impression that I think the art in the comic is better or more important than the writing, but that's not it at all: I love the writing in Hawkeye.

No, the reason I haven't written a half dozen essays about how terrific a job Matt Fraction is doing with this book is that I can't find an angle.

I mean, I guess I could have written about how Hawkeye #6 made me laugh aloud more times than any other comic I can remember. Or maybe I could have pointed out the clever ways Fraction often builds his stories around guy problems (shitty landlords, trouble setting up an entertainment system). I could have discussed Fraction's judicious and awesome use of recurring gimmicks like filling word balloons with "obscene gerrund" or "Spanish sounding words" instead of the actual dialogue and then compared that with the awesome martial-art-move-names from The Immortal Ironfist (actually, that's not a bad idea...). Or maybe even something about the number of times he has used the word "bro". But none of those are particularly insightful or original.

No my problem is that I can't find that unique, technical thing to say about the writing in Hawkeye. I think just saying something is good or that I like it is boring. So for these Eye On Hawkeye posts I've been trying to point out the interesting and innovative things the creators do that elevate this book and make it one of the very best superhero comics I've ever read. The trouble is that Fraction's writing on this book is so good that it's largely invisible.

Okay, let me explain. All fiction is artifice: at its inception it's created from its makers' imaginations, inspirations, and hard work. From there it is constructed, hammered into form with words and pencil strokes and even more hard work. And eventually the audience gets to experience this constructed thing, this artficial world we get to briefly live in. It's magic made by creative people and I am constantly amazed by it.

With most fiction the fact you are looking at an artificial thing is obvious. In some cases it is poorly made fiction with crude seams of logical inconsistency, distracting authorial ticks, or grammatical sins. In other cases, like seminal classic Watchmen and Fraction's own experimental Casanova (a comic so good it makes me ache), great fictions display their artificial nature through their engagement with deliberate themes or through their unorthodox approaches to storytelling. These well made fictions use their crafted nature in a way that elevates the reading experience kind of like a garment enhanced by artfully designed seams. I guess what I'm trying to say is most fiction shows the evidence of an author.

With Hawkeye, Fraction creates such a consistency of tone, character, and world vision that it doesn't feel created. It feels natural and effortless: the seams of the comic are hidden. It's kind of perfection.

(It also makes finding an angle to write about the writing in Hawkeye difficult.)

I mean this as the highest compliment: to write something so complete that it feels true and effortless has to be about the hardest thing to do. The fact I can only think of a couple of other comics that have that same magic (Jaime Hernandez's Love and Rockets and to a lesser extent Brian K Vaughan's Saga and Y the Last Man) is probably evidence of how hard it is to pull the trick off.

So, yeah, the writing in Hawkeye is really, really great and Matt Fraction is absolutely killing it. Here's hoping we're all very lucky and Hawkeye isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

Eye On Hawkeye #6 pt. 1
Eye On Hawkeye #3
Eye On Hawkeye #2

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