Monday, 17 November 2014

Exposing The Secret Avengers #9

Or a look at kind of a great page or whatever in Secret Avengers #9
by Ales Kot, Michael Walsh, Matt Wilson, and Clayton Cowles; Marvel Comics

Secret Avengers is one goofy and subversive comic book filled with a pleasantly complex plot and some delightfully dark moments. It's also a comic that has some really effective storytelling choices and artwork. And I want to take a closer look at one page from the issue that I thought was full of a bunch of small choices that make for a really interesting and effective page.

There will be *SPOILERS* after this. But you already knew that, right?

I think one of the most interesting challenges with depicting Hawkeye in comics is that ranged weaponry isn't particularly visual. Like, I mean you can draw and archer, an arrow in flight, and a target getting struck, but that isn't particularly interesting after a while. What I like about this page here is that it does a great job capturing the experience of archery in a visually interesting way.

The first thing I like about this page is how it sequesters the experience of firing a bow from the consequences of the arrow. Down one side of the page we have panels focussing on Hawkeye firing arrows, which are tightly cropped and have a universal purple colour and empty background, catching the tranquil space and focus of an archer. On the other side of the page we have the much more chaotic experience of being a target of arrows and being struck by projectiles. It's bow and then it's arrow.

Which is actually an interesting construct of comics because you effectively have three interlocking, simultaneous comic strips on the top half of this page.

You can equally read this page in three different ways. Down the left of the page is a three panel comic strip (red) that only shows Clint firing his arrows one after another. On the right side of the page is another comic strip (blue) showing the wrestler guy getting pummelled with arrows and being knocked over the railing. But you can also read the page left-to-right and top-to-bottom and get a three tiered comic (green) that shows Hawkeye firing his bow, his arrows in flight, and then his arrows striking the target guy. It's pretty cool stuff.

I'm also a big fan of how the arrow flight/ arrow collision is constructed. The transition from flight to impact to reaction is interesting and kind of funny. The fact the construct is used twice, does a great job setting up the grappling hook shot which changes from a left-to-right panel transition to an up-and-down transition, which sells the experience of nabbing something which is falling. Which is such a little thing, but is just super clever. Which is kind of what I love about this comic: it's fun and just filled with neat comics.

Post by Michael Bround

Secret Avengers #7: Labyrinthine panelling
Secret Avengers #4: Colour as character symbols.
Secret Avengers #2-3: Smart layouts.

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