Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Hawkeye Vol. 3: L.A. Woman (Marvel NOW!) Review

Hawkeye Volume 3: L.A. Woman

Hawk-not-guy!
Writer: Matt Fraction

Artists: Annie Wu and Javier Pulido

Collects: Hawkeye #14, #16, #18, #20 and Annual #1

Background Information:

For the past two volumes, Clint Barton (AKA Hawkeye), has been defending his aparment complex from a gang of Russians dressed in tracksuits. At the end of the last volume, however, Clint decided he was going to "bail" as young Hawkeye, Kate Bishop, puts it. Kate didn't like that, so she up and left to L.A, taking the pizza dog Lucky with her.

Review:

You hear a lot of calls for female-led books in the comic industry. You hear a lot of calls for more light-hearted fun in comics. If there was ever a solid argument for both, though, it's L.A. Woman.

Hawk-not-guy on computers!
So upon entering L.A., Kate is promplty robbed and left broke. Only having her skills as an archer/superhero at hand, she sets herself up as a hero for hire. All the while, Madam Masque lurks in every mission she takes. I think what I love about this particular format of storytelling is that it tells a complete story like the previous volume, without sacrificing the done-in-one episodic format that made me love the first Hawkeye volume. Each mission feels like it's own thing, but somehow it links back to Madam Masque. It allows for a light-hearted comic where the stakes feel high. That's a difficult thing to accomplish, and massive kudos goes to Matt Fraction for pulling it off.

Kate's character has always been well-written by Fraction, but gving her a chance to shine in what could easily classify as her own solo book is golden. Kate's got a very different voice to Clint. She feels younger and more energetic. Fraction even gives Kate her own slang; with liberal use of the word "futzing" and he catchprase "Momma like" being the standouts.

It's actually amazing how "un-Clint" this book feels withot feeling like a seperate series altogether. The basic elements of the Hawkeye comic up til now are retained; a gang of bellboys suitably replaces the tracksuit draculas, a scruffy-looking man with a dark past fills the void left by the redhead in previous volumes better than she initially filled it, and the ground-level, almost trivial threats are basically retained. Unlike other series that have made major changes (here's looking at you, Batgirl), this change feels natural. It's masterful.

This is the first time I've had to talk about art using two paragraphs, but here goes. Most issues here
are drawn by Annie Wu and while I miss the rough pencils of David Aja, Wu  makes a decent, albeit not equal substitute. She captures Kate's body language brilliantly. With the costume that Kate wears for most of the book, it would also be tempting for writers to draw the character so that the holes in her costume were emphasised. Thankfully, that's not a temptation that Wu succombs to. The holes at her waist, rather than being the focus, seem to just be there to break up the solid purple that otherwise dominates her costume. That's appreciated, and it's something that I want to see more of in the next volume.

Hawk-not-guy in a comic... somewhere...
Javier Pulido's art is another matter. Puido draws the art in the Annual and for a large chunk of the book, it feels like the guy wasn't all that interested in actually drawing anything. Black silouettes take up places where characters shold be in many panels and while this would be clever and nice-looking in small doses, Pulido spams pages with it. Eventually you just want to shake the book and yell "FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! ACTUALLY DRAW SOMETHING, WILL YA?". He partially makes up for it, though, by putting Kate's facial expression in text boxes. That was a nice touch and something I was sad to see absent in other issues.

L.A. Woman is a near-perfect book. It gets a four and a half out of five silloute costume holes.

**** 1/2