Comics POV

A superhero and his dog

Every once in a while, someone in the comics world will try something weird, a kind of experiment in format or style. John Byrne did an issue of Fantastic Four that was read sideways. DC had a run of a special Batman title that was in black and white to give it a more noir feel. Marvel had a month wherein their entire line was purely visual, no words.

A few months back—I'm a bit behind, I just read it yesterday—DC published an issue of Nightwing illustrated entirely from the title character's perspective. It took me a couple of pages to understand the gimmick, but once I did I thought it was cool. It was writer Tom Taylor and artist Bruno Redondo's take on the classic M*A*S*H episode "Point of View," which was shot as if through the eyes of a wounded soldier at the 4077th.

The heads-up display is fine, but Nightwing needs to adjust his side mirror, it's not doing him any good.

But more than the M*A*S*H episode, it brought to mind two issues of Hawkeye from about ten years ago. Writer Matt Fraction and artist David Aja delivered a run of that title that is among the best mainstream comics has ever produced, and issue #11 and #19 are standouts because of the perspective the story is told from. It was nice to be reminded of them and I'll have to find some time to dig those issues out and reread them.

Hawkeye #11 is entirely from the perspective of Hawkeye's dog, Lucky. Dialogue balloons mostly contain chicken-scratch with the occasional word Lucky recognizes—" \\||| \ \\  \|||| || sit \||| -\--||| bad ||\\\//\/\\||| lucky \\\|--///\|| down"—while the reader is shown how Lucky perceives the world through pictograms that translate the smells and sounds he's sensing, as well as how Lucky identifies various people by their associations with odors, events, and objects. The story follows Lucky as he discovers a resident of his building dead on the roof, then finds all the clues needed to find out who killed the guy. It's so, so good.


#19 focuses on the fact that Hawkeye had lost most of his hearing thanks to being caught up in an explosion in a previous issue and is told from his auditory perspective, which is to say, the word balloons are empty and he communicates via untranslated ASL. Just brilliantly done

The Nightwing issue is a nice little gimmick. I appreciated it. It's well drawn and the story itself is fine, if not particularly memorable in and of itself. But what it really did was make me appreciate Fraction and Aja's Hawkeye all over again.



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