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Report Card | From ‘Hawkeye’ to Spongebob to ‘Green Team’

reportcard-2-tease

Welcome to “Report Card,” our new week-in-review feature. If “Cheat Sheet” is your guide to the week ahead, “Report Card” is a look back at the top news stories of the previous week, as well as a look at the Robot 6 team’s favorite comics that we read.

So read on to find out what we thought of Hawkeye #11, the second issues of Green Team and The Wake, SpongeBob Comics Annual #1: Super-Giant Swimtacular and much more.

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Amazon reveals its 10 best comics of the year — so far

marble seasonBecause it’s apparently never too early to get a jump start on best-of-the-year lists, Amazon.com has rolled out a rundown of the best comics and graphic novels of the year so far, led by Gilbert Hernandez’s semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story Marble Season (Drawn and Quarterly). Here’s the full Top 10, arranged according to sales:

  1. Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon, by Matt Fraction, David Aja, Javier Pulido and others (Marvel)
  2. Solo: The Deluxe Edition, by various (DC Comics)
  3. Thor: God of Thunder, Vol. 1: The God Butcher, by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic (Marvel)
  4. Relish: My Life in the Kitchen, by Lucy Knisley (First Second)
  5. MIND MGMT, Vol. 1, by Matt Kindt and Brendan Wright (Dark Horse)
  6. The Property, by Rutu Modan and Jessica Cohen (Drawn and Quarterly)
  7. The Comics Journal #302, edited by Gary Groth (Fantagraphics)
  8. Marble Season, by Gilbert Hernandez (Drawn and Quarterly)
  9. Iron: Or, the War After, by Shane-Michael Vidaurri (Archaia)
  10. The Creep, John Arcudi, Scott Allie and Jonathan Case (Dark Horse)

The editors’ picks for the best of the year so far in each category can be found here.

Comics A.M. | ‘Walking Dead’ slips, manga rises in May

Naruto, Vol. 61

Naruto, Vol. 61

Retailing | Naruto topped the May BookScan chart of graphic novels sold in bookstores, followed by two volumes of The Walking Dead, the latest volume of Sailor Moon, and Yen Press’ latest Twilight adaptation New Moon. Just three volumes total of The Walking Dead made the Top 20 (down from eight last month), and as usual, DC and Marvel got clobbered: DC had three titles on the list (two volumes of Court of Owls and Watchmen) while Marvel had one (Hawkeye), and none was above No. 15. Or to put it another way: Vol. 14 of Dance in the Vampire Bund, a high-numbered volume in a fairly niche manga series, placed higher than every Big Two book on BookScan last month. [ICv2]

Creators | With the second issue of their digital-only comic The Private Eye recently released, writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Marcos Martin talk about their story, why they decided to do it digitally, and what the response has been so far. [The Verge]

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All Hawkeye cosplayers need a set of these in their quiver

trick-arrows

With the popularity of Hawkeye –both the Clint Barton version, starring in his own stellar comic and various Avengers titles, and the Kate Bishop version, currently appearing in that same stellar comic and the snappy Young Avengers — it’s not surprising that Hawkeye cosplayers are taking aim at conventions around the world.

If you’re wanting to sport the gear of the younger, female Hawkeye, but aren’t sure where to get started, here’s a Tumblr by a devoted Kate Bishop cosplayer that should tell you everything you need to know. It’s appropriately titled “Gosh I Love Arrows,” and I think she goes above and beyond in the creation of a set of trick arrows based on David Aja’s illustrations from issue #3.

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What Are You Reading? with Allison Baker

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Happy Mother’s Day and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at the comics, books and what have you we’ve been checking out lately. Joining us today is Allison Baker, co-publisher of Bandette, Edison Rex and all the other Monkeybrain Comics you can find on comiXology.

To see what Allison and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.

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Talking Comics with Tim | Francesco Francavilla on ‘The Black Beetle’

The Black Beetle: No Way Out 3

The Black Beetle: No Way Out 3

Frequent readers of ROBOT 6 know I’m a big supporter of Francesco Francavilla, and particularly his Black Beetle character. Wednesday marks the release of The Black Beetle: No Way Out #3, the penultimate issue in the first of a series of miniseries for Dark Horse. As much as I was eager to learn about the pulp-fueled noir comic, I was equally keen to chat with Francavilla about his approach toward layout and storytelling in general.

As part of the interview, Francavilla shared some preview pages for the latest issue.

Tim O’Shea: Comparing the early adventures of the Black Beetle, as shown in Night Shift versus No Way Out issues 1 and 2, how liberating did it feel to be increasingly ambitious with your layouts on the pages?

Francesco Francavilla: Very liberating. One of the tricky parts of doing Night Shift was to have three small installments (chapters) of eight pages. I wanted each single chapter to be meaty enough to be entertaining on its own, but I also wanted each chapter to end with a cliffhanger. Going from that to a full 22 pages a month with No Way Out, I have much more room now to have fun with different layouts and give extra room for some big reveal sequences.

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What Are You Reading? with Dave Dwonch

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Happy Sunday and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at all the comics and other stuff we’ve been reading lately. Today our special guest is Dave Dwonch, creative director at Action Lab Entertainment and the writer of such comics as Space-Time Condominium, the upcoming Ghost Town, Double-Jumpers and more.

To see what Dave and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.

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What if corporate-owned heroes had corporate sponsors?

sponsored heroes3

Booster Gold was introduced in 1986 as a glory-seeking time traveler eager to sign endorsement deals, and in his appearance on The CW’s Smallville wore a costume emblazoned with corporate logos, similar to a NASCAR racing suit. But what if other superheroes followed in Booster’s footsteps?

In his series “Sponsored Heroes,” Roberto Vergati Santos envisions costumed heroes from comics and films if they were getting some sweet, sweet sponsorship money from the likes of Nike, Apple and Coca-Cola (although why a cosmic entity like Galactus, the Devourer of Worlds, would need corporate cash is beyond me).

Some of the results a much better than others. You can see a sampling below, or view the entire series at Behance.

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Cheat Sheet | From MegaCon to ‘Wolverine’

cheat sheet-march11 copy

Welcome to “Cheat Sheet,” ROBOT 6′s guide to the week ahead. Below you’ll find a roundup for Marvel’s announcements from South by Southwest, our contributors’ picks of the comics of the week, and the top events to watch for in the next seven days.

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It’s one-part ’90s, two-parts ’00s in ‘Age of Ultron’

age of ultron #1The first issue of Marvel’s Age of Ultron is definitely shiny, but is it new? Not hardly.

It is relentlessly focused on the evocation of nostalgia, to a degree that’s remarkable even among super-comics (a genre that’s built out of nostalgia-evocation), but what is perhaps most interesting about the book is the particular frequency of nostalgia the publishers appears interested in.

Yes, this is a comic book seemingly about other comic books, a comic book like so many other Marvel comic books you’ve already read, but which Marvel comic books, and from which decade? That’s what’s unusual about this particular go-round.

It’s hard to look at the cover and not think of the 1990s.

No longer content with variant-cover schemes, Marvel has upped the ante in its silly cover-gimmick arms race with DC Comics, and come up with an embossed gold-foil cover. There’s a metallic shine to the wrap-around cover (the back of which is really an ad for the second issue), justified in-story by the fact that this is about a robot. That robot, Ultron, like the “AU” and “Marvel” logos, is embossed, so the comic feels special — not just metaphorically, but literally. Run your fingertips all over it with your eyes closed; yeah, this isn’t your typical issue of Avengers!

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That’s cool, bro: Upcoming ‘Hawkeye’ story to focus on sign language

No hearing aid ... yet

No hearing aid … yet

Matt Fraction said at the Emerald City Comicon this weekend that he’ll write an issue of Hawkeye about sign language when the character once again has his hearing damaged. That’s pretty cool.

Now it might seem wrong to wish hearing loss on anyone, even a fictional character, but it’s the latest in a series of cool moves by Marvel. If you’ve been following along, you know that last week Marvel and hearing aid makers Phonak kicked off a poster campaign aimed at hearing-impaired kids who feel awkward about wearing hearing aids. That poster campaign came about after a mom, Christina D’Allesandro, reached out to Marvel last May because her son refused to wear his hearing aid. He said superheroes don’t wear them, and his mom was hoping Marvel could point out one who did.

“Tom Brevoort brought up Hawkeye’s loss of hearing back in the ‘80s, which spurred me to send a shot of the West Coast Avengers #1 cover to Christina, suggesting that she tell Anthony that not only do superheroes definitely wear hearing aids, but that he could be an honorary Avenger if he wore his,” Marvel Editor Bill Rosemann told me last year.

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Food or Comics? | Nutella or Nemo

Welcome to the very last Food or Comics. Next week our new-release picks will take a different format, but this week we’re still talking about what comics we’d buy at our local shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Batman Incorporated #8

Batman Incorporated #8

Graeme McMillan

Let’s be honest, if I had $15, I’d make sure that Batman Incorporated #8 (DC Comics, $2.99) was first on my list. Not because of any controversy — I’ve been enjoying the series all along — but because I’d be worried it’d sell out if I waited. I’d also grab two Dynamite books: Jennifer Blood #23 and Masks #4 (both $3.99); Al Ewing has done just insane, amazing things on the former, and the Chris Roberson/Dennis Calero team on the latter is just killing it.

If I had $30, I’d find myself time traveling to all the weeks prior in which I didn’t use all $30 to borrow a dollar from past-me, just so that I could get Showcase Presents Justice League of America, Vol. 6 (DC Comics, $19.99), which takes the series firmly into the 1970s and brings the team face to face with villains including the Shaggy Man, Amazo and countless other favorites of my childhood.

Should I have some splurging left in me after that nostalgia-fest, I’d likely go for the Judge Anderson: PSI Files, Vol. 3 collection (Rebellion, $32.99), which picks the series up just after I’d dropped off the 2000AD radar for awhile, and hopefully gives me the chance to get back into the character, now that I am firmly into Thrill Power again.

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Nick Spencer is holding too many secrets in ‘Secret Avengers’

Holding too many cards spoils the game.

Holding too many cards spoils the game.

I didn’t talk about the first issue of the new, more NOW! Secret Avengers last week for a few reasons: First off, I try to keep things positive as I can here at The Fifth Color; I can’t say I always succeed, but being fair is good goal to shoot for. Secondly, I would have wanted to talk about the ending of Rick Remender’s run on the title way more than Nick Spencer’s new gig. Seriously, how amazing was that last issue? Remender really pulled out all the stops on his fascinating robot revolution and really made me sit up and take notice toward the end despite what was more of a expositional start. I hope he has time to come back to his philosophical super-science take on man vs. machine, but I’m guessing it’ll be awhile before Deathlok is back under his employ. Then again, the Uncanny Avengers are specifically the “non-discriminatory: Avengers group, so maybe Deathlok will be sneaking into a few more pages- and see? I told you.

Lastly, it was the day after Valentine’s Day and I am a huge sap.

Thankfully, the esteemed Michael May was dashingly handsome enough to compare the new NOW! Nick Spencer spy story with the similarly cast new storyline in Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Avengers Assemble. Comparing their sp-ytastic stories against one another, it was easy to see where one had suceeded at being a movie-like throwback to secret agent action and where one sadly failed.

Below, I’m going to talk about how Secret Avengers drew the short straw in comic storytelling and how that cool new ‘indy look’ for Marvel comics can fall flat on it’s face. Join me, won’t you?

WARNING: We’re talking about Secret Avengers #1 and Winter Soldier #14, so grab your copies and read along!

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Spy vs. Spy: What’s right (and wrong) with Avengers spy comics

avengersspies

Last year was a good one for spy fans. We got new Bond and Bourne movies, Homeland continued to be a much-discussed television series, and films like Argo and Zero Dark Thirty proved that espionage films can also be art. Even The Avengers got in on the spy action by playing up S.H.IE.L.D. and the spy backgrounds of Black Widow and Hawkeye. Spies aren’t going away either, not with the recent debut of The Americans and a bunch of spy movies in the works, including a couple of John le Carré adaptations and a big-screen take on the video game Spy Hunter.

Borrowing from its 2012 cinematic blockbuster, Marvel is letting the spies infiltrate its comics, too. That was especially noticeable last week with the simultaneous release of Secret Avengers #1 and Avengers Assemble #12, each featuring Black Widow and Hawkeye in an espionage adventure with superpowers. But as alike as they were, each came at the idea from a wildly different angle and achieved results that were just as dissimilar. One was awesome. The other, not so much.

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What Are You Reading? with Tim Lattie

from Phonogram: The Singles Club

Welcome to What Are You Reading?, where the Robot 6 crew shares their picks for who we think should play a young Han Solo. Of course, we unanimously chose Nathan Fillion, so instead we’ll talk about what comics we’ve been reading. Joining us today is special guest Tim Lattie, the creator of Night Stars. Tim is currently running a Kickstarter to raise funds to publish it, so head over there and check it out.

To see what Tim and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.

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