Spoiler free review of Hawkeye #16 -
Music is cool. I used to write about music. Then I found myself unable to write about music. Now I write about comics. In a way, Hawkeye #16 has rekindled my love of writing about music. It also probably helps that I read the excellent Phonogram recently but Hawkeye #16 was a major factor, probably because the series isn’t dead-set focused on music the way Phonogram is, therefore making the issue feel like a special item in a series where each issue is often a special item in and of itself (see the Hurricane Sandy-issue or the Pizza Dog-issue for what I mean by this). By special I mean something that’s unique and different and contributes to a forward-moving momentum in the field of comics. Something that innovates.
Hawkeye #16 is about Kate Bishop aka Lady Hawkeye helping an older man find out who leaked an unreleased record of his from back in the 60s. At a basic level, the premise is kind of a thin, one-off story but that thin, one-off story leads to a compelling story filled with humor, sadness, and willpower and musing on the idea that music can be one of the most touching things to the soul if you give it a chance. Some songs just pound away on the heartstrings. That’s the way things are, and always will be. At a conceptual level, Hawkeye #16 hits really hard. Just two sentences ago, I talked about what music can do for the soul. It can inspire one to write about it whilst also doubling it as a review piece. It can make one experience feelings they haven’t felt in a long time. Music is emotionally manipulative.
Annie Wu’s artwork on this issue embodies the idea of what music can do and captures its essence perfectly. There’s a panel near the end where Kate is looking emotionally satisfied both by the job she did and the music the older man is playing. This one panel sums up the entire idea I’m going for, laid down on paper. Elsewhere the traditional things found in comics i.e. movement and action are done with cool framing and a refined verve not really seen elsewhere. The scenery also feels distinctly Californian (based on images I’ve seen. I’ve no desire to actually go to California ever). I’d be okay with Wu taking over as regular artist if Aja is suddenly unable to draw the book.
Hawkeye #16 makes me want to write about music again but I still can’t find the words. I still can’t find something new to say like I can with comics now. I’ve exhausted my repertoire of things to write about for music but at least this issue had the power to strike inspiration in something I no longer have the heart or mindset for.
My Score: 5/5