Monday, 15 September 2014

Eye On Hawkeye #20

Or a look at the complicated timeline of Hawkeye #20 
by Matt Fraction, Annie Wu, Matt Hollingsworth, & Chris Eliopoulus; Marvel Comics

One of the aspects of Hawkeye that I continue to find interesting is just how complicated the narrative often is. In most superhero comics I read, the order of events tends to be pretty straightforward: the narrative starts and then follows a linear chronology to the end of the issue. Frequently there are multiple, divergent story threads, or maybe a flashback, but the main thrust of the story has a very clear, easy to follow timeline. Hawkeye bucks this convention with issues that fit together in an overlapping chonological jigsaw and individual issues that sometimes provide narratives in dramatically non-linear fashions. Hawkeye #20 is a great, non-linear narrative comic, and because I like timelines, I thought I'd take a stab at making one for the issue.

Since this is a timeline, it is inherently *SPOILERS* intensive. That said, I did take steps to avoid the most blatant spoilers of the issue.

Beyond just being an interesting way to deliver a comic, this non-linear approach to storytelling provides some novel tools to Team Hawkguy. For instance, the ability to frontload the comic with later events allows the creative team to setup, in a weird inverted way, some of the key reveals of the issue which helps make them feel significant and earned. This comic is one of very few where I feel like giving away some of the ending early actually made for a better comic.

Actually, I think it goes beyond foreshadowing: the suspense engine of the entire issue might rely on knowing that Kate is going to discover a big secret and that Kate is going to have the futz beat out of her. This puts the entire story in the lens of "how did we get here?", which makes every situation potentially where Kate finds her secret (which is exciting) or where Kate gets Clint-levels of contused (which is suspenseful). Knowing that big reveals and big hurts are coming massively increases the tension throughout the comic. It's a really effective engine that I think emerges directly from the structure of the comic.

Also, Annie Wu is a goddamn comics wizard. Hawkeye was better for her participation, and I'm excited to see what her next thing is.

Eye on Hawkeye #19 pt. 2: Structural wayfinding.
Eye on Hawkeye #19 pt.1: Empathy Machine
Eye on Hawkeye #18: Colours and setting.
Eye on Hawkeye #15: Composition, Layout, and colours.
Eye on Hawkeye #16: Smart layouts and chilling moods.
Eye on Hawkeye #14: Repetitive panels as a device.

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