Let's wrap up the year with a couple of comics. One of these titles has been wonderful this year, the other has frustrated the hell out of me at times. Can you guess which is which?
Hawkeye #14, by Matt Fraction & Annie Wu (storytellers), Matt Hollingsworth (color art), Chris Eliopoulos (lettering) - Do you think when this storyline ends, that all these covers where Aja uses the hexagons, will turn out to fit together in some big collage thing? I could see him doing that.
Kate's still out in Cali, trailer sitting for those old ladies. I think. It's been awhile since Hawkeye Annual #1 came out, ya know. Unfortunately, she's broke. Fortunately, her neighbors Marcus and Finch had the orchids they were going to have at their wedding stolen. Well, it's not fortunate for them, unless you think orchids are a poor choice for a wedding. I have no idea if that's the case, but really where do you get off criticizing how they have their wedding? It's not always about you!
Anyway, this presents Kate with a chance to be a Hero for Hire, and recover the orchids. As far as I can tell, Kate isn't any better at detecting than Clint, but lucky for her, the florist knows exactly who took the orchids and burned down his shop. He just won't tell the cops, because he doesn't want Mr. Flynt Ward to kill him. So Kate sets out to collect evidence so Ward can be arrested. She's not terribly good at that, either, but that works in her favor, because once Ward spots her video-taping his weed buy, he tries to run her down with a car. Which she records. I swear, you teens today, with yer video phones. You'll be taking those "self-photos" of your own funerals soon. *removes grumpy old man hat* Ward buying weed doesn't mean anything (wait, weed is also legal in California? I thought that was just Colorado and Washington. Eh, whatever), but him trying to run her over certainly does. Good work, Kate. And she got the orchid. Somehow. Maybe she broke into his house again after he was arrested. Or the cops confiscated it when they arrested him. Not sure why they would do that. Well, Marcus and Finch have their orchid, that's the important thing. Oh, but Ward works for Madame Masque, who has her lackeys dress up as bell boys? That's a. . . curious uniform choice.
OK, was I supposed to recognize the guy Kate kept meeting in the cat food aisle, that may have been a hallucination? Was that supposed to be Columbo? I pictured Peter Falk being shorter, unless Kate is much shorter than I thought. Also, didn't Peter Falk have a wider face? It couldn't have been Rockford. . . and with that, I'm officially out of TV private eyes Kate could have imagined. Unless. . .
Oh my gosh, the ghost of Peter Parker has returned! To help Kate recover missing flowers for some reason. I think his time would be better spent telling Steve Rogers to go punch Octavius out of his damn body, but fine, maybe he has to do this first. Wait, that's it! It was a Quantum Leap thing! Scott Bakula! OK, fine, I have no idea what I'm talking about, I can't parse Kate's mind. Seriously, what does 'Play it cool, Kate-Silver-of-the-five-thirty-Kate-blog' mean? Play it cool, I get, but the rest? Matt Fraction's too much of a hep cat for me, dig?
All that confusion aside, it was a pretty good issue. I think Fraction's playing the relationship between Kate and the cop with too much of a knowing wink. If he does it right, the reader will be OK with the two of them building a gradual friendship, even if it is cliche. It isn't necessary to devote panel space to basically, "yeah, this is cliche, I know *rolls eyes*, but just go with it, because it's funny, right?" Don't be embarrassed, just go for it. Crap, that was more complaining. But seriously, Kate got off her butt and did something to solve her problem (no money), and she did it her way. Kate sometimes bugs me, because she carries herself like she's the greatest thing ever, in everything, not just archery, which is where I think she differs from Clint, who at least seems to recognize how often he screws up non-arrow related things. But boundless, irrational confidence can be a lot of fun to read about, especially when it's racing neck and neck with a total lack of common sense.
I like the background coloring Hollingsworth uses. That light pink for Marcus and Finch's wedding, the sickly orange coming from inside Ward's house, the sickly turquoise inside the police station (the wheels of justice grind slowly and nauseatingly). It's nice for setting the mood. My utter confusion about Trenchcoat Man aside, Annie Wu did a nice job as artist. I prefer Aja, but as he can't even stay on schedule doing every other issue (witness Hawkeye's failure to ship again this month, by the time this story finishes, we'll be on Marvel NOW! 3.0), Wu will be just fine. The fractured panels showing Flynt running down Kate, or the three panels on page 19 of Flynt on the phone, with the view zooming in on his furious mouth more with each panel. It's impressive, because Ward already looks pissed in the first of them, but somehow focusing just on his gritted teeth by the last panel makes him seem even angrier. The page before that, she gave the cashier a great curious look as she watched Kate leave the store. Though I'd think cashier's would be blase about crazy people after awhile. They must see so many.
Daredevil #33, by Mark Waid & Chris Samnee (storytellers), Jason Copland (art), Javier Rodriguez (colorist), Joe Caramanga (letterer) - For the record, Hawkeye was the occasionally frustrating book, in case you hadn't guessed.
With a little magic from Satana and Jack Russell, Matt is saved from death by bullet wound. There's a little tense discussion after Matt mentions he's looking into the Darkhold, but learns some grand serpent wizard guy has some missing pages of it in a cabin just above him. There's even a passage that will take Matt right to him, except that it's said anyone who attempts the journey will be driven mad. Matt tries it anyway, and very nearly is driven crazy-mad. Mostly though, he's just angry-mad, when he realizes everything he was subjected to was actually a test. Then he burns the cabin down, tells Russell that it's no biggie because the pages he was worried about are gone, but what's that? Matt has some pages tucked away in the holster for his billy club as he heads back to New York.
I feel like Matt didn't play fair with Russell and the rest. Beyond the fact he kept some of the pages for himself (and given Matt's complete lack of experience with magic, how does he know there's nothing in there dangerous to Jack or the others?), there's threatening to incinerate the Living Mummy, after they saved his bacon. Surely Matt was bluffing, you say. Well, I'd like to think so, but we have to question whether Matt would consider N'Kantu to be alive. Given that Marvel heroes seem to draw some ridiculous distinction between obviously living beings of alien races (like Skrulls), and incredibly evil humans (Like Norman Osborn), I'm not sure Matt would worry too much about torching a walking corpse.
The idea that Matt still sees things like we do in his dreams is an interesting one. I hadn't really thought much about it, but I guess I assumed he would see things in radar sense outlines in his dreams as well. Or they'd consist solely of scents and sounds. That would be difficult to represent in a comic book, I imagine. The scents would, anyway.
When Matt's being healed, the "SHLRRP" effect sounds both disgusting and somehow exactly what I would expect from a hasty spell repairing massive damage to one's body. A wet meat sack sealing itself up again.
In some places, Jason Copland's art is a bit rough for my tastes, too heavy on the inks, but he did very well with the double page spread of Matt walking through the awful test, and Matt's grin as he utters "The Devil you say" was excellent. It's a perfect smile for Daredevil. Kind of cocky, maybe even a little mean, but mostly excited at the prospect of something intensely dangerous. This issue felt a bit sparse, like Waid could have condensed the trip to Kentucky into one issue, rather than two, but other than that, it's a good story.
I do have one book left, but it's split into two stories, one of which doesn't conclude until the next issue, which will hopefully arrive with the next shipment, which is hopefully in the mail as I type this. So I'm going to try and hold off until then. Once I get done with all the basic reviews for the last new comics of the year, then I'll get into the year in review stuff. So we may be waiting until the end of January again this year.