The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week – February 11 – February 17, 2015

I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.

Then I read them.

Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.

I read 6 comics last week: Batman Eternal #45, Darth Vader #1, Amazing Spider-Man #14, Justice League United #9, All New X-Men #36 and Star Trek #41.

The best comic I read last week was ... WELL, I AM GOING TO CHEAT AND PICK A COMIC FROM LAST WEEK… because I couldn’t get Hawkeye #21 out of my head.

hawkeye

Hawkeye has been one of the best – if not the best – books on the market since its first issue. Unconventional and emotional, the book has been written by Matt Fraction as almost an anti-superhero comic. The premise of the series is “what does Hawkeye do when he’s not wearing the mask?” Good premise. I am hard pressed to think of a time the character appeared in costume during Fraction’s run.

The artists on the book, primarily David Aja and Annie Wu (recently stolen away from Marvel to illustrate DC Comics new Black Canary series), have been pitch perfect and fit what Fraction has been doing to a T. Their styles have complimented Fraction’s off beat take on Clint Barton and have been as much a part of the book’s success as the writing. Not any old artist could have pulled this off.

The book has shown readers Hawkeye’s existence (a carefully chosen word) living in a run down apartment, his ongoing conflicts with a track suit wearing gang, his reluctant protegé’s adventures (and Kate Bishop’s story has been almost as compelling as Clint Barton’s), his dealings with the women in his life, his reunion with his brother and an issue narrated entirely by a dog.

No kidding.

My only issue with the book – and why it has often slipped under my radar – is that it has been published so irregularly. Clearly Marvel knows it has had something unique with “Hawk-guy” and hasn’t pressured Fraction or his artists much. That said, the lack of regularity has somewhat blunted the book’s impact and forced it to lose narrative momentum.

Oh, and there is another issue. Fraction’s run is coming to an end. That’s a shame because there’s nothing else like this book out there.

I should have picked it last week, thanks, Junior Senator, and could have picked it every week it was published. It was certainly better than anything I read over the course of the last seven days.

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