Read This Comic For Charity: Hawkeye #7

“Paul, you’re always talking about Hawkeye! What’s so great about it?”

Well, anonymous reader that found this site while searching for porn, I believe I’ve written about it extensively. I’ve mostly said things like: “It’s awesome.” “Hawkeye is awesome. Both the character AND the book.” “I have a writer crush on Matt Fraction.” “David Aja is ridiculously talented in his inventive panel layout and storytelling.” “Matt Hollingsworth purples all over the place in a spectacular manner.” And then repeated them with each issue that has come out.

Screen Shot 2012-10-18 at 8.43.57 PMThis panel is from issue #3. The car chase issue. It’s full of action and sexy times.

Screen Shot 2012-10-18 at 8.42.21 PMAnyway, I got you in here with promises of charity (or porn, if you googled “porn” and this came up as a result of me typing “porn” earlier.). Hawkeye #7, which comes out on Wednesday, January 30th, is about Clint Barton and Kate Bishop (both heroes with the codename ‘Hawkeye’) and how they deal with a fictional version of Hurricane Sandy (I do not give any fucks if it’s actually superstorm Sandy or whatever. It does not matter. Shut up, Al Roker). Writer Matt Fraction is donating his royalties to charity, so in buying this comic, you’re not only validating my opinion by listening to my recommendation, but you’re also doing a good thing for people.

You can also get issues #1-6 of Hawkeye at a slight discount, thanks to a sale on Comixology. For those who are lazy or don’t know how to use the internet, here is a link for you: http://www.comixology.com/Hawkeye/comics-series/8445

So to recap, Issues #1-6: Awesome, great comic. Issue #7, haven’t read it yet, but it will likely be pretty damn good, and some of the money goes to charity so you can feel good and stuff.

 

 

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All The Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues: The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire

Identity. That seems to be my theme of the week (Sing it now, THEME OF THE WEEEEEEK!), as I have recently read and enjoyed a multitude of comic books dealing with that theme. Phonogram was one such comic, in which characters defined themselves through art and popular culture, specifically music. The comic I’m writing about today, Underwater Welder, features a character defined both by his father, and his own transformation into a father.

Jack Joseph is the titular Underwater Welder.

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He’s got a baby on the way. He welds things underwater. Screen Shot 2013-01-15 at 9.36.14 PM

He lives and works in the sleepy town he grew up in. Screen Shot 2013-01-15 at 9.36.02 PM

 

His life seems to be walking through life half awake, moving almost at a snail-like pace, like he’s trying to extend every second that still exists in the period before he becomes a Father. I capitalize “Father” not because Jack is about to become a man of the cloth, but because that word haunts him. His own father made his living underwater too. And drowned. On Halloween. When he was supposed to be trick or treating with Jack. And in the present day, it looks like Jack is going to become a father right around the time that he lost his own. It messes with his head. Big time. Lemire explores this in what can only be described as a Twilight Zone-y style, with Jack becoming lost in his own past as well as a ghost-town version of his home town.

So you’ve been plot summaried, while I’ve sprinkled in some panels of Lemire’s beautiful artwork. Based on my own artistic knowledge, I can only assume that he’s working in brush and ink, and he’s doing so wonderfully. It’s such a loose, yet committed style. I don’t know if he drafted anything in pencil, I’m sure he must have, but it looks like he just went for it, and nailed it.

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Pacing. Look at that pacing. It’s fantastic. It slows you down as a reader, forcing you to read at the art’s pace. With the slow drip of blood hitting water or a blade creeping along a face. Whenever it seems that business might pick up a bit, like a big revelation is coming, we’re forced to cool our jets via some close up inserts that slow that action down.

Screen Shot 2013-01-15 at 9.35.39 PMIt was my instinct to move faster. That’s how I read. But Lemire’s art kept me in check. It.

Slowed.

Me.

Down.

To.

a crawl.

Screen Shot 2013-01-15 at 9.39.52 PMWhilst all of Twitter was…well…atwitter about the Golden Globes and best films of the year, Comic Book Reporter and man about town Tom Spurgeon tweeted something to the effect that he had read a bunch of comics that were way better than any of the films nominated for best something or another. Yay vague references to things I saw on the internet! I hope I’m half-heartedly quoted one day as I am quoting Mr. Spurgeon right now! Anyway, this is a thing that is true of Underwater Welder. It is one of the best creations of narrative art produced in the year of 2012. Not just a great comic, or a great story, but beautifully executed storytelling.

This is something that I’m going to hand to people or buy and say “This is why you should read comic books.” It’s special. It’s smart. It’s true. And it’s done in a way that is different than a film or a prose novel. It’s the pacing.  I keep going back to that, but it’s true. Lemire had total control over me while I was reading this. I was drawn to move forward, but not without taking in every beautiful detail rendered in each individual panel, or spread out across the massive splash pages and two page spreads.

Thanks to Ben and Rebecca for recommending this to me. It’s a fantastic comic, and y’all (being everyone but Ben and Rebecca, and I suppose, Mr. Lemire) should read it.

 

 

Stop Listening to the Same Music You Listened To At 23: Phonogram by Kieron Gillen and Jaimie McKelvie

On the “About” page of this site, you’ll find a note where it says I will not, and SHOULD NOT recommend any music to you. This should have probably been hammered home by my repeated “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah” references, but as a reminder, I went to a Best Buy in 2003 and purchased this album on the day is was released:

MachoManRandySavageWait, please don’t go. Don’t take that to mean I have NO credibility.

Many people can communicate through shared love of music. In Phonogram by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, there are people called Phonomancers that can utilize music for magic. The way I have pitched it to some friends in person so far has been “It’s like if talking like Patrick Bateman gave you musical power.” It’s a pretty glib way to summarize the series, though it is a somewhat accurate description of how the first volume’s protagonist, David Kohl, starts out.

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David’s identity and magical power is rooted in the genre of Britpop and in the goddess Britannia. There are those who would resurrect and pervert the genre for their own gain, and David is faced with the dilemma of who he is being rewritten by these people, or redefining himself on his own terms.

It’s a scary proposition. I can’t say that I know a lot about the music referenced in Phonogram, but the themes and emotion ring true. I’ve been kind of working to redefine myself through comic books in the past year. A big part of that was getting rid of most of my collection. I thought that would be a bigger deal to me, but it wasn’t. It didn’t bring me down that much, and honestly, it wasn’t me anymore.

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That’s where David winds up. He figures out who he is right now and doesn’t continue to draw power from who he was. That’s the first volume, Rue Britannia. I liked it a bunch. But then I read volume 2, The Singles Club…and I fucking loved it. David pops up again, but it’s mainly 7 intersecting stories about 7 different Phonomancers and how they make magic through music. They’re all at different stages of their lives, but each realizes something important about themselves within the course of an issue. In jumping around to the different characters, and with the injection of color, Gillen and McKelvie’s comic book feels even more alive. Rue Britannia tells you about music, but The Singles Club IS music. If I can, I’ll try and work a little of this magic by trying to reiterate what this comic made me feel, and what comic books make me feel while we tour through some of these beautiful panels.

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When I write about a comic, when I tell you about a comic…I’m trying to tell you about me. I’m not trying to prove that I’m smart. I’m not trying to impress you. I’m doing it for me and I’m trying to say a few things.

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I love comic books. I think they’re as important as books and films and music and comedy. They’re a way to tell a story, to share, to communicate.

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I try not to just blanketly recommend things. Yeah, I write this blog, but I try to frame things with “If you like this, then read BLAH!” I’m trying to say I know you (if I know you personally and have recommended something) or if you’re an anonymous reader of this site, well, then I’m trying to relate to someone like myself that would enjoy the work about which I’m writing.

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Phonogram worked this kind of magic on me. It spoke to me even though I didn’t fully grasp the references. I connected with Gillen and McKelvie’s work emotionally. It made me feel like this. I felt this page leaping off of my tablet screen, saying “Yes. This is true.”

Screen Shot 2013-01-14 at 10.18.40 PMTwo people connect through art. Through music. Through dance. You don’t have to understand. There’s nothing to get. There’s just some things that we connect with each other on. We define ourselves and each other through these connections, and it’s magic.

 

1/11/13: Buy This Right Now, Uncanny X-Force by Rick Remender, Jerome Opena and others

Sorry for the “and others” other talented artists that have brought Uncanny X-Force to life, but time is of the essence (Quick time-essence break, the colors on this book? RIDICULOUSLY GOOD, courtesy of Dean White. This comic is like a dark and scary and awesome dream because of that guy)!

Ok, folks. The first 31 issues of Uncanny X-Force are on sale for 99 cents each at Comixology. Don’t tip your toes in, drop the $31 and get it all. It’s worth it. LINK HERE IN FULL UGLY URLNESS: http://www.comixology.com/Uncanny-X-Force-1/digital-comic/AUG100524

Screen Shot 2012-09-17 at 10.24.08 PMUncanny X-Force is about X-Force (I know, dumb name, but dumb names are the name of the game in superhero comics, so get past it mr or ms fancy cool pants), the secret black-ops team of X-Men. They kill threats to mutant kind  before those threats can make their latest attempt to kill mutants. This team of killers sometimes has problems with this (moral dilemmas!). There’s action and Sci-Fi (Not Hard  Sci-Fi, sorry Forrest), there’s dimension hopping and evil cyborg time travel duplicates. There are villains attempting to kill our heroes with their butts:

Screen Shot 2012-09-17 at 10.24.44 PMFor reals.

It’s also a great  companion book for anyone who enjoyed Grant Morrison’s New X-Men, as it expands on several characters and concepts from that run. Remender also revisits the Age of Apocalypse universe, making it even darker than those of us who grew up in the 90s remember it (and better, too. 90s X-Men comics DO NOT hold up).

I’d love to write about this book more, but you only have til 11pm to get past your indecisiveness to buy all these awesome comics!!! Seriously, it’s a steal. It also doesn’t depend upon years of continuity for enjoyment, nor does it lose any momentum by getting caught up in company crossovers. Everything you need to read is in these 31 issues (and in 6 more that are still at full price, but we can all wait for a price drop on those). Read this comic, and then we’ll come back here in a few days time to go a little bit more in detail about how awesome it is, and how amazing Dean White’s colors are.

(Disclaimer: I don’t see a dime for telling you to buy anything off Comixology. It’s how I read my comics, I think their 99 cent sales are fantastic, and as a result I’ve probably given them most of my dimes).