Friday, August 14, 2009

My Weekly Dose: Hawkeye Always Hits The Mark And Zombie Seals Will Eat Your Face!

I returned to work this week, and with that, returned to my 30% discount at Cosmic Comics--so the pull was pretty large. Marvel's Ultimate line relaunched and the black death continued to march across the DC Universe in Blackest Night. Also in the mix, we got a new Fables trade, another not-sucking issue of the weekly Amazing Spider-Man, and the best kind of Hercules comic--the kind where he perpetuates his amusing rivalry with Thor. We also got another gut-wrenching, blood-curdling installment of what is probably my favorite ongoing series, The Walking Dead, from Image.

And I don't mean gut-wrenching because it was sad...

I cannot wait to see what Frank Darabont does with this comic on AMC! Oh, you didn't hear?

Meanwhile, in other zombie comic news...

The newest Black Lantern--Aquaman--leads a gruesome assault against his Atlantean brethren in Blackest Night #2. I don't know what I like more--the sound effect calling back to the old cornball Super Friends cartoon or the undead sea lion biting that one dude's face off. Zombie Aquaman FTW!

But it wasn't all about reanimated corpses for me this week...

After Jeph Loeb took his dump all over the Ultimates and then steamrolled the rest of the Ultimate Universe in Ultimatum, I figured I was done with the alternate Marvel setting. But I had to at least take a peak at what they had planned with the Ultimates and Spider-Man relaunches that came out this week.

The relaunch was hit and miss for me. Now that I'm enjoying regular old Spidey in Amazing again, I'm not all that interested in keeping up with floppy-hair emo Peter Parker in Ultimate Spider-Man. The new #1 fell flat for me. The writing was more of the same, but that seems somewhat lacking when Peter Parker's world was allegedly turned upside down "6 months ago" when the Ultimatum Wave destroyed New York City and killed thousands. But the book opens with the kid working in a burger joint and acting like a regular old angsty teen with a superhero side-gig. Not what I expected, and not what I wanted. Also, the way Spider-Man is drawn in the book, he looks like a Super-Hero Squad version of himself. Why is his head so damn round?!

But on the other hand, while Spidey lost a reader, Ultimate Avengers #1 saw a return to form for what had been my (and everyone's, frankly) favorite super group in the Ultimate Universe. It also saw a return to the Ultimate line by one of it's architects and one of my favorite Marvel writers--Mark Millar.

From the first page, and through the mouth of Nick Fury, Millar takes a jab at the mess the Ultimates became without him, and then proceeds to turn all the dials back to awesome with great pacing, clear storytelling, and a tight sequence of helicopter-based kick-ass featuring Captain America and Hawkeye. The fact that they are just pounding on the Ultimate version of A.I.M. goons harkens to old school Marvel fun, but like with the best of Millar's work, and with thanks to some great artwork by Carlos Pacheco, the hits hit harder and the stakes feel higher. With the exception of the unpleasant Loeb-helmed third volume, this latest and the first two volumes (all written by Millar) of Ultimates comics look and feel like movies on paper. Brian Hitch is a good match for Millar, and served him well in the previous Ultimates books and Millar's recent run on Fantastic Four, but I prefer Pacheco's style. The book is no longer about trying to identify the photo references like it always is with Hitch. It's about comic book superheroes in action.

One of my long-time favorite characters--in theory--really shines here. I say in theory, because I don't remember him ever having a good storyline or shining moment in the books I read as a good. I just liked him because he looked cool to me and he was an archer (I'm a sagitarius). Hawkeye has been something of a punching bag, or worse, a punchline, for decades. From the purple costume with the pointy mask, to his lack of any actual super powers, to his piss poor attitude due to an inferiority complex brought about by his always being a notch below Captain America in every way--Haweye was kind of a bitch. But in the regular Marvel Universe, Brian Bendis killed the man behind the mask, Clint Barton, in a literary mercy killing specifically designed to trigger an impressive rebirth for the character. Clint Barton would later come back from the dead, as comic characters often do, emotionally changed from the experience and with a new superhero persona, Ronin. "Hawkeye" would be co-opted by not one, but two individuals: one of the members of the Young Avengers, as a tribute to Clint, and by the villain Bullseye, wearing the old purple and pointy as a member of Norman Osbourne's Dark Avengers. There's a ton of new and renewed interest in Clint Barton and Hawkeye because of all this, in Marvel-proper.

But Ultimate Hawkeye...he was bad ass from the start. And his current costume and attitude remind me more of one of my favorite Image Comics characters growing up, Grifter, with a touch of Bullseye's crazy. He's still Clint Barton, and there's still that arrogant bravado that has always been part of the expert marksman hero. But he's got a much darker edge to him now, a cool look, and--this week anyway--a cool moment.

The Rest: Uncanny X-Men #514 continued the lousy "Utopia" storyline, but Terry Dodson's art at least looked nice. I'm just not that into the mutants anymore. In fact, I was only reading this book because I wanted to see what Fraction could do with them. I've seen it, and I'm over it. Incredible Hercules #132 was fun, but the reason I don't get this book regularly is that it just doesn't seem relevant to anything. It is a throwaway at times, but easy to cut when I want to save a buck. I mentioned that I'm still digging Amazing Spider-Man for the third week in a row, and this time it features the return of another old school villain, the Chameleon. It was decent, not amazing, but I am still genuinely interested in what happens next to poor Peter Parker, both in love and law-enforcement. Blackest Night: Batman #1 will probably give us some vague hint about the real fate of Bruce Wayne back in R.I.P. and Final Crisis (psst--he's not really dead), but that will be after a few hours of Bat-Dick (Grayson) and Damian the Boy Wonder teaming up with Dead Man to fight a bunch of reanimated C-list bad guys. I'll save my cash Grant Morrison's superior take on the characters and read the spoilers next time. Finally, I haven't read Fables: The Dark Ages yet, but I have yet to be disappointed by that series and can recommend it blindly.

1 comment:

Peat said...

Glad to hear Millar's back on Ultimates, but I think I'll wait for the trade. Ultimate Hawkeye still looks like a douche.