Page 45 Review by Stephen
this looks bad.
Of course it does, Clint: you are involved.
HAWKEYE VOL 1 is the only superhero comic we have ever allowed in the Page 45 window, and the only superhero comic we have ever made or are likely to make Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month. Firstly, David Ajas design skills are phenomenal; secondly, this isnt a superhero comic: its a grin-inducingly inventive comedy crime caper, full of humanity and accessible to all: you dont need to have read a single Marvel Comic in your life.
Oh, youll find so much to relate to, like that unfathomable tangle of wires which links your TV to your digital thingie via the DVD player and VCR, while your PS3 and Wii operate almost certainly by magic if only you can remember which arcane combination of controller buttons to press. God alone knows which plug is which anymore.
Then there are the ghosts of ex-girlfriends. Oh, not real ghosts, but imagine being caught snogging a damsel in distress (and in dat dress) by a) your girlfriend b) your ex-girlfriend and c) your ex-wife, all at the same time. Im not exactly sure what a motif is, but Fraction and Aja have turned that trio into one. Probably. They recurr, anyway, at the most inopportune moments.
Once again, this is one long succession of disasters but this time not all of them are of Clints making. The first chapter was written on the fly immediately following the horrific storms which hit the U.S. on October 29th 2012.
Clint has bought the tenement building he lives in to safeguard its tenants from a mob in tracksuits. There have been
altercations, bro. Hes also befriended those tenants, especially chubby, middle-aged Grill who insists on calling our Hawkeye Hawkguy. As the winds whip up around them, Clint drives Grill to Far Rockaway where Grills stubborn old goat of a dismissive dad is steadfastly refusing to pay any attention to the gale or water levels, leaving their last mementoes of Grills dead mum in the basement. Oh look, here comes the flood.
The very same night Kate our younger, female and infinitely wiser Hawkeye is preparing to hit New Jersey in an elaborate Emanuel Ungaro dress and Christian Dior stilettos.
What could a storm do to a five-star hotel?
Its New Jersey. There are La Quinta Inns outside of State pens that are nicer.
Oh yeah, Mr. Brooklyn? This where you and Jay-Z tell me Brooklyn is the greatest place on Earth?
Okay, one, I dont know who that is, and two, shut up. Brooklyn is great, New Jersey is a punch line, and you are a kid and dont know what youre talking about.
Both threads are moving tributes to people helping each other in times of crises, and thats what this title is all about: helping people in times of crisis. And it stars the one man above all who simply cannot help himself in either sense.
Whoa, man, you look like hell.
Walked into a door. That, uh, proceeded to beat the hell out me.
Clint seems to have spent the entire series covered in plasters.
Hes also spent the series in a line of personalised clothing like the H hat nodding back to his old mask, and the purple target t-shirt. As to Kate, shes decked herself out in a variety of purple shades which shes perpetually pulling down to glare her elder in the eyes with long-suffering disdain.
So yes, let us talk more about David Ajas design which with Hollingsworths white fills the comic with so much light. His tour de force here is the Pizza Dog issue, told entirely from Luckys point of view, wordless except for those basics the mutt might understand. His day is spent constantly interpreting the world around him through sound, smell and association, conveyed by Aja in maps of connected symbols worthy of Chris Ware himself (see BUILDING STORIES, JIMMY CORRIGAN and, particularly for symbols, the early pages of ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY #20). There is one seemingly throwaway moment where an absence of both sound and smell means everything.
What is particularly impressive is the absence of almost any anthropomorphism (just two raised paws). Instead its all symbols and skeuomorphism as the dog goes about its business (and indeed business) on daily patrol. What you dont see on the unlettered cover to that chapter is the original credits which would normally read
but instead read
And you know what I was saying in HAWKEYE VOL 1 about Matt Hollingsworths gorgeous colour palette? There is a highly instructive two-page process piece in the back in which shows you precisely how he achieves that consistency and the trouble he goes to do so. Pays off every single issue.
Anyway, back to the tangled wires and battered old VCR and our catastrophe-prone Clint doing the best that he can.
Shut up about the show and shut up about my stuff I know its a mess and its half-taped together and its old and busted but its mine.
And you gotta make that work, right? You gotta make your own stuff work out.
Or, to put it another way
What is the hell have I gotten myself into? What the hell is wrong with me?
Oh, Clint! Everything is wrong with you.
Except your heart.