In retrospect, a short title would have been nice. Also happy New Year!
Welcome back to me coasting for cash-money. As I said last time, this is the “Matt Fraction Power Hour” portion of the list. Fraction created some amazing comics this past year, which anyone who’s been reading this blog on the regular is well aware of . So here’s 2 of my favorites, which I imagine come to the surprise of no one.
Matt Fraction/Chip Zdarsky (Image Comics)
Yes, that is the 4th printing cover for Sex Criminals #1, thanks for asking, it’s available 1/8/2013.
Sex Criminals is the best book I never knew I wanted. A surprisingly touching sex-comedy, Fraction and cartoonist/Applebee’s enthusiast Chip Zdarsky have created something special in the span of 3 issues.
I can’t recall the last time we’d had a tasteful (well at some points) look at sex from the female perspective in comics, if at all. Which is exactly what the first issue does with it’s lead Suzie. It starts off on a tragic foot, followed by some dark comedy shortly after. It’s easily the strongest debut issue of the year, and gives Fraction the chances to stretch some creative muscles he can’t over at Marvel for obvious content-related reasons. Issue #2 deals with the male lead learning to deal with his own sexuality, which isn’t so touching as it is hilarious.
And then there’s Chip Zdarsky. Given the content on his twitter feed and tumblr, it’s hard to see where Fraction’s madness begins and Zdarsky’s begins, but Matt could not have a better artist attached to this title. Chip’s art is beautiful to look at, and crammed with a ton of hilarious visual jokes. At times there seems to be some sort of competition going in with him and Fraction as to who can do the grossest thing with this book, and the winners are the fan in the end. Unless you’re offended by porn shop humor. Which if so, stay away.
And speaking of fans, the Sex Criminals letter pages of all things are an absolute delightful to read. Matt and Chip are surprisingly candid about discussing their sex lives, as are their readers. A tad perverted yes, but hey this book is called Sex Criminals, what did you expect? Same goes for the intro recap pages, which are just walls of text.
Despite it’s mature content and only having 3 issues out, Sex Criminals was already named Time Magazine’s comic of the year, and topped several other well known publication best of list. And well deserving mind you, because if there’s one book that’s going to top Hawkeye or Saga as the IT book of 2014, it’s going to be Sex Criminals. Which now gives me a lazy segway into book #2….
Matt Fraction/David Aja/Annie Wu and others (Marvel)
Don’t call it a comeback. Hawkguy’s been here for a year, rocking his peers….and that’s all I got.
I could easily sum up the decision with the words “The Pizza Dog issue” and chances are most comic book readers would understand that reasoning. While Sex Criminals may have the best debut issue of the year, Hawkeye #11 is easily the best single issue of the year for a number of reasons, both on technical and emotional levels. Insert the David Aja/Chris Ware comparison here.
And obviously this series is not a one trick pony. Scheduling issues aside (the title was delayed a number of times this year sadly), this book has been flawless, even with Aja needing some help on the penciling side of things. But when you have Annie Wu drawing the Kate Bishop side of things, and guys like Francesco Francavilla stepping in to draw and issue or 2, things are more than okay.
And let’s not forget what the creative team behind the Hurricane Sandy issue managed to accomplish in a matter of weeks.
Name dropping talent aside, it’s important to focus what Fraction and friends have accomplished with this character in barley over a year. Using the hype from last year’s Avengers movie, they’ve turn Clint into a complex character, one who’s heavily flawed despite his best intentions. The stakes are low and personal in Hawkeye, and it’s barely tied into the proper Marvel Universe, outside of the occasional Avengers cast member cameo. We also have Kate Bishop, West Coast Avenger, dealing with her own baggage, and the potential for some amazing stories, and the addition of Clint’s brother Barney to the cast. Editor Stephen Wacker is allowing the team to tell small personal stories in a world of Marvels, and the end results of fantastic.
So there you have it, 600 words of Matt Fraction flatterly. Which means next time we’ll see #1 right? Right? I think that’s how counting works.