Robot 6

How much Hawkeye is too much Hawkeye?

How much, exactly, is too much of a good thing? I imagine it depends on the thing in question, and the person you ask. Let’s say the thing is Marvel’s newish Hawkeye. And the person is me.

I really like this comic, which is something that came as a great surprise to me, as I don’t really have any feelings about Hawkeye beyond, perhaps, preferring the super-archer with the facial hair and the green costume. And I don’t really like reading Marvel comics serially any more, given how hard the publisher strives to make that experience an unpleasant one, with the ads and the variants and the cover prices and the AR phone applications and the random switching and the renumbering and title changing and the funny numbering schemes (“Superior Spider-Man #6AU“…?) and the irregular shipping schedules.

I bought the first issue on a whim, though (it was a light week), and despite a little confusion as to why artist David Aja was to aping ’80s-era David Mazzucchelli, it impressed the hell out of me. Writer Matt Fraction and Aja make a great team, and the idea of focusing on what Hawkeye does “when he’s not being an Avenger” — recasting the movie star/cartoon character/toy as a more-or-less everyman action hero — is interesting, as was the decision to make every issue a done-in-one complete story (for the first three issues, anyway).

Each story has had elaborately constructed plots that spring open, move fluidly and then snap satisfyingly shut, the script and art are paced to encourage a slower, more appreciative reading process that makes each issue seem twice as long as most other Marvel comics, and even Matt Hollingsworth’s old-school but understated color and generous use of purple (to compensate for the lack of costume) has been impressive.

I started to worry when Issue 4 shipped, though, and worry still more when I read Issue 5, and worry still more when I saw Issue 6 arrives next Wednesday.

The first issue shipped in August, and the fifth issue last week, so, in a way, it’s still a monthly comic, if you count the issues and months on your fingers. But that fifth issue shipped Dec. 5, the first week of the month, and the sixth issue arrive Dec. 19, the third week, making the book biweekly in December.

Which is nothing to complain about, of course, as it’s an extra issue of a comic I really like, right? The thing is, artist Aja apparently couldn’t keep up with the 20 pages-and-a-cover schedule, and a fill-in artist was needed for issues 4 and 5. That fill-in artist was the immensely talented Javier Pulido, and even if you’re not familiar with his work, a quick flip-through of the book will reveal that Pulido art isn’t anything to complain about either.

Look!

Look!

(In fact, while I was surprised not to see Aja in Hawkeye #4, I didn’t miss him over the course of these two issues, the series’ first two-part arc, either).

Still, it’s a cause for concern. What’s the point of using a fill-in artist to give the regular artist a break and some breathing room to catch up and get ahead, and then cut that break in half by double-shipping? Why is Marvel double-shipping the book in December, instead of having saved Issue 6 for January?

I’m sure there are business reasons, and that it all makes sense to the businessmen at Marvel. As a comics consumer, though, it kind of confounds me, as it’s not like there’s a dearth of Marvel comics on the stands, and if I have more issues of Hawkeye every month to buy, I’m less likely to pick up a new Marvel book on a whim, a book that might turn out to be my next Hawkeye (and I hear they’re publishing an awful lot of books that they would like new readers to maybe pick up on a whim right NOW!)

The last Marvel comic I was this excited about was the Mark Waid-written, Marcos Martin-drawn Daredevil. It launched about a year ago, but has already published 21 issues (plus an annual, and a couple stories spilled into a couple issues of Amazing Spider-Man and an issue of The Punisher). It also burned through artists pretty quickly, with Martin drawing exactly one issue before the art team of Paolo and Joe Rivera came in for the second issue.

Over the course of its 21 (or 20 plus .1, or however Marvel counts its books now), Daredevil has had seven different artists, with Martin drawing four issues, the Riveras five, Khoi Pham two, and Kano, Marco Checchetto and Mike Allred all providing one issue a piece. The current artist, Chris Samnee, has drawn the most, with seven issues under his belt, and it looks like the book has finally found a stable artist, as opposed to a stable of artists.

All — well, almost all — of those artists are great ones,  and some of them are among my favorites working in super comics. Daredevil survived the creative team chaos, and is not just as good as it was for its first half-dozen or so issues, but it got pretty rocky there for a while, and it seemed to survive despite the accelerated scheduling, not because of it.

I’m sure there’s something to be said about the rise of the writer as the primary creative force at Marvel instead of the artist, and what a reversal that is from the publisher’s various heydays in the 1960s and 1990s. Through no fault of their own, it’s thought of as Mark Waid’s Daredevil now, and depending on future scheduling, Hawkeye is on track to become Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye rather than Fraction and Aja’s Hawkeye (Actually, there was a copy of a Daredevil trade on the stands this week, and on the Diamond shipping list it was called “DAREDEVIL BY MARK WAID TP VOL 02″).

Let’s not get into all that now, though — I’m sure this post is long and meandering enough as is. At this point, I’m just sort of concerned about Hawkeye. As easy as it should be to publish great comics in this day and age — the formula for the two I’ve discussed in this post basically amounts to Great Writer + Great Artist = Great Comic — they still seem sort of rare.

These great super-comics are like hothouse flowers, and it can be worrying to watch the gardener behave perhaps irresponsibly around them. You know, you don’t own them, and they can do what they want with them, but damn it, you still want them to be around long off to continue enjoying them.

For now, at least, Hawkeye is still a really good comic. Hope it stays that way.

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Comments

19 Comments

You’re the only person I know who can take an awesome comic like Hawkeye and turn it into a problem. Of all the J. Caleb Mozzoccos in the world, you’re the J. Caleb Mozzoccoest.

It’s double shipping because they wanted to get a Hurricane Sandy fund raising issue out quickly. I can’t believe this book has a complaint like this. If the art wasn’t your style or you didn’t find the jokes funny, I could at least comprehend where you were coming from.

Quick note about the Mark Waid Daredevil run; Paolo Rivera was the artist of the first issue, with Marco providing the introductory page and a back-up strip. Marco’s first full issue wasn’t until #4. The book was promoted as Marco and Paolo trading off art duties between storylines. Readers knew this coming in.

I completely understand the point you’re making in this article, but in a world overrun by subpar superhero books I’m glad to see a book I wholeheartedly enjoy being shipped out in abundance. Yes, you run the risk of over saturation, but come on I’ll gladly take ten bi-weekly issues of Faction’s Hawkeye over the majority of MarvelNOW and the New 52.

Um…you do realize that Hawkeye #6 is a Christmas issue right? I think that’s the only reason it’s shipping early. After that, should resume normal schedule.

WOOOOOW! you really don’t like Marvel, if all you can complain about is the over-shipping of great books and the new fangled AR/.1/NOW! stuff………..

Funniest part was your aja/mazzuchelli confusion. Truly 1st world problems.

I believe issue 7, due in January, is a special Hurricane Sandy issue with proceeds going to charity. So it’s possible that the “businessmen at Marvel” are in a rush to get that issue out and help some people in need. The suggestion is that Aja is not involved in issue 7 but returns with 8 in February, so he still gets a break if you are concerned for his welfare.

I’ve never been a fan of Hawkeye but the version in the new ongoing is great.

Double shipping is becoming more of the norm at Marvel. No book is immune. With that in mind, people (customers, retailers, publishers) need to plan accordingly. I never could understand buying a book out of a loyalty to a character, no matter the quality of the book. I remember when Hawkeye was first announced, people were commenting that they would “wait for reviews” to see if they would check out the book. Yet, at the same time, they would be the same ones to have a subpar book on their pull list due to a need to have a complete run. Why?

Marvel ( and DC) are in the business to make money. Hawkeye has a book due to being in a blockbuster movie.
These are facts. In spite of the corporate side putting it out, the creative side can still make a corporate mandated book one of the best on the stands. The retailers and customers should be a bit more open to titles with different characters and themes. The corporate side should realize that the creative team, when left to do their job, can put out a quality, selling book and not feel the need to muck that up for a few extra quick dollars.

In short, everyone should have a wider scope on things.

Hawkeye is best book, bro.

OK, you win with that, Trevor.

“And I don’t really like reading Marvel comics serially any more, given how hard the publisher strives to make that experience an unpleasant one, with the ads and the variants and the cover prices and the AR phone applications and the random switching and the renumbering and title changing and the funny numbering schemes (“Superior Spider-Man #6AU“…?) and the irregular shipping schedules.”

Amen, brother.

There’s nothing I hate more than getting extra of something good! Bah humbug!

Hawkeye is the absolute best comic published by either of the Big Two right now. I don’t mind the two issues in one month thing… this could only be a problem if the quality dipped but, as you noted, Pulido is phenomenal. He has long been one of my favorite artists (I can’t count the number of times I’ve re-read Human Target) and, most importantly, his art matches this book’s aesthetic perfectly. Occasionally, Marvel and DC get it right and let a little auteur project like this be their own thing (instead of just churning out cheesy licensable superhero melodrama) and you just want to thank everyone involved. Truly, nothing to complain about here!

“I can’t stand this restaurant. The food’s excellent, and such big portions.”

Where’s the dislike button?

More negativity from comics journalism. How surprising.

I don’t argue with the quality of the comic. It’s a VERY good comic. It’s just not Hawkeye to me, so haven’t read it since the second issue. That said, if it’s a good comic I’d rather get it more often. It makes me drop the titles that I’m not enjoying as much.

Hawkeye, bro. Its the best.

Aja’s art is phenomenal, and that point was hi-lighted when they had Javier draw #4 and #5, those issues were just missing something.

Pulido has drawn #4 and #5, that shipped Nov and early Dec, and Aja is back on for #6 on Dec 19, and then back on again for #8 in Feb. The reason for this is Issue #6 was written using dates in Dec, kinda like the story is happening right now, so when you read it its like “Whoa, that happened yesterday!” type thing and i think its got a bit of holiday cheer in it so its something you could no longer stand to read once you make it through the holidays.

Issue #6 i believe is two different artists and Fraction is donating his pay to Hurricane Sandy relief, so they need to get that out ASAP. Its cut into the normal run, kinda like how Sandy cut into peoples lives and forced them to deal with it. After #6, Aja is back and has had at least 2.5 months of time to get ahead on the art. I think that’s a good break.

I can see where you’re going with this, but I think you’re confusing some issues. One, David Aja is not a monthly comics artist. You know there will be fill in issues, but it’s worth it because his issues are so good. He brings out the best in Fraction, which is why I particularly like the way that these two work off of each other. Read Fraction’s other books and you’ll see what I mean. Marvel seems to be doing a good job also of bringing in fill in artists (like Pulido) who add something to the book as well.

The problem with your argument is that, in the scheme of things in the industry, this is really not an issue. This is a minor quibble; a slight concern. This is the type of thing that fanboys bring up when they’ve been sitting around thinking about the industry too much instead of just grabbing a few comics and reading them.

Relax – this is not a real concern. Criticize some of Marvel’s other books before you go after this one. They are much more deserving.

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