It is well documented that I am a big coward. One of the many things that scares me is the prospect of driving in unfamiliar territory. I have a tendency to get lost. I don’t like to get lost. It makes me nervous.
It is also well documented that I love comic books. Every year when we prepare to go to LawyerCon, my first order of business is not to find out where the good restaurants are or what the major attractions are, but where is the nearest comic book shop to our hotel. If I’m lucky — and it happens more often than you’d think — there is one within walking distance of our hotel.
This year the nearest comic book shop to our hotel was Captain Comics, roughly six miles away. Too far to walk, especially in the excessive heat and with The Son in tow. But distance would not be an issue this year because we were driving to Charleston, which meant I would have a car.
Except, you know, for that part about how I hate to drive in unfamiliar territory.
I check with Google Maps, I look the route over several times, it doesn’t look too hard, maybe I can do this. The plan was to go on Wednesday, which everyone knows is New Comic Book Day. And not just any new comic book day — this Wednesday was the day that Hawkeye 1 would be in stores. Could there be a better souvenir from my week in Charleston than that?
I was set to go but my resolve was weakened when I talked to the only other LawyerCon attendee that I know who frequents comic shops. He had tried to find Captain Comics the day before and failed. Not a good sign. Still, I had to do it for Hawkeye.
I looked over the map repeatedly, trying to burn it into my brain. I wrote down the directions. I had three different versions of the directions based on the site I was using. Not a good sign. Maybe I wouldn’t mind getting my ass lost in South Carolina if it was just me, but I’ve got my son with me and I don’t want anything to happen to him. Still, I had to do it for Hawkeye. Oh Marvel, why couldn’t you put this book out a week later?
The valet brings the rental car around, I get out of downtown Charleston without a problem. The problem begins when I try to figure out which route to take out of downtown. I go one way and end up on a road that wasn’t on the directions, decide that was wrong and turn around. I go another way and keep going farther out into nothingness, decide that was wrong and turn around. I’m ready to say “screw this” and go back to the hotel, but I make one last try.
I get back on the road I got off on earlier and keep going. It eventually turns into the road that’s on my directions. A good sign for a change. The road changes names a third time, but that, too, is on my directions. Somehow I end up on the road where Captain Comics is supposed to be on. Success! The directions say the shop is on the left, so I keep my eyes peeled to the left. Nothing.
Before you know it I’m out of the shopping district and into a residential area. I’m pretty sure there are no comic book shops in a residential area so I turn around. I drive the entire shopping area and see no Captain Comics. I turn around again. I pull into a strip mall thinking maybe it’s hidden inside. It’s not. I’ve now been on the road for an hour (Google Maps says the trip should take 15 minutes) and my nerves are shot. Not only have I not found Captain Comics, I’m not sure I can remember how to get back to the hotel.
I’m ready to turn back and head for the hotel when, there, — on the wrong side of the road — was Captain Comics. Why does Google Maps live to frustrate me? We head inside but by this time I’m so frazzled that I can’t really enjoy the experience of checking out a new comic book shop. It seemed to be a decent store, well stocked and all, but there were a couple of nerds talking loudly about “Civil War” and I really didn’t want to listen to that. I grabbed a copy of “Hawkeye” and the latest issue of “Avengers Academy” and made my way out.
We stopped at the McDonald’s next door for take out burgers and reversed our course back to the hotel without incident. It really did only take 15 minutes to get back. It’s easy when you know what you’re doing. After eating lunch, we headed down to the pool because I figured The Son deserved some swim time after all that.
So, was it worth it? Surprisingly, yes. I say surprisingly because — despite my great love for Hawkeye — he hasn’t had a great track record as a solo comic character. There have been about as many bad Hawkeye comics as there have been good ones. That’s probably true of all comic book characters, but there aren’t as many Hawkeye books out there so the bad ones are more pronounced.
This latest effort, by writer Matt Fraction, is more about Clint Barton the man than Hawkeye the super hero. At least for this first issue. Hawkeye only appears in costume with weapon on the first two pages. The rest of the story is a slice-of-life piece about Clint, his neighbors, an evil landlord and a dog. Yes, Hawkeye is a dog person. That should come as no surprise.
It’s very street level and low key and charming. The art by David Aja is sharp, simple and cartoonish — far removed from the overly detailed, faux realistic art that is common these days. While the art is a highlight, it’s so different from the norm these days that it may doom it with the general comic buyer. The fact that the book is more about Clint than Hawkeye will turn some people off as well. The book has gotten very good reviews, but good reviews rarely translate into good sales.
The story is also a done-in-one, which is a much better way to launch a new title than with a six-month epic. If you wanted, you could read “Hawkeye 1” and never buy another issue.
But you really shouldn’t. I think you’ll enjoy it enough to come back.