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cover of Hawkeye Volume 4


Although I found the way Hawkeye was told, almost as a wild art experiment, pretty fascinating, I didn't really end up caring that much about Clint or his situation outside his relationship with Kate Bishop and to a lesser extent, his brother. I really loved L.A. Woman and Kate's adventures in California, the way it deepened her story, but I haven't really enjoyed any other volume of the series as much, except My Life as a Weapon, which also featured Kate heavily as part of a team with Clint. Unfortunately, I'm not getting the emotional connection to Clint Barton here, which is maybe the art, maybe the fact this isn't a word-heavy comic and I'm still pretty new to comics, or maybe that the second volume put me off with how women orbiting Clint as potential romantic interests were handled (the "wife" framing laid over the top of the "mothering" vibe left a sour taste) and so it spoiled me for empathizing with him in his wider life. What I took away from Hawkeye was a deep love for Kate Bishop and a deeper understanding of how comics can tell a story without words and still be affecting (the issue from Lucky's perspective was particularly amazing). Volume 4 was more of the same, although it was better than other volumes, as Clint's relationship with Barney and his retreat after being attacked surprisingly opened him up more to me.

(I guess I need Clint emotionally vulnerable, physically injured, and at the end of his rope to find him interesting? Good going, self!)

The notable part of this volume was the way they integrated Clint's deafness into the narrative. I had heard about it, because when it debuted everyone marveled at how well done it was, but I hadn't seen it. It was really, really good. I understood some, but most of it was a mystery to me even on re-reads until I looked it up.

The story wraps up with a open future for Clint (just like the previous volume left Kate's story open, too). I would say "save me from superhero comics with ambiguous endings!" but I'm afraid I'm too deep now to escape, especially from Kate Bishop, and her complicated relationship with Clint. But I'm not sure I'll be following Clint anywhere. Kate, though! I will definitely keep following her.

cover of The Fifth Season


My feelings about The Fifth Season are complicated, too. I'll maybe write something longer about it later after I've considered the whole story. The way Jemisin uses orogeny in this story and frames people with power is immense. My immediate response is that this is a gorgeous book about the brilliance and misery of humanity and the ease with we can subjugate people different than us and excuse that treatment to continue the system that benefits the people entrenching the subjugation. It's also amazing to read a story so heavily about a woman, motherhood, and a quest narrative so firmly connected to a mother's relationship with her children.

Slight spoilers, so skip the next paragraph if you're not into that.

My feelings get complicated when it comes to the same-sex relationships in this novel. On one hand, this is a world full of multiple queer characters and a trans character (and one suspects this is not an isolated case)! On the other hand, in the main society of this novel, same-sex characters are denied agency with their personal sexual relationships, forced and coerced into opposite-sex relationships they don't want, and suffer over and over whenever they find a modicum of happiness. It's the last point that tangles me up, because everyone in this world seems to suffer due to the nature of the earthquakes and uncertain future due to the seismic shenanigans. Would I prefer that queer characters be present and suffer or not suffer because they don't exist in the world? And so much of the abuse queer characters get isn't rooted in their queerness, but in their orogeny. I'm still puzzling out my thoughts over this and haven't quite come to a conclusion.

Other than that, I loved The Fifth Season and gobbled it up in two days. I never thought a book partially written in second person would appeal to me, but those ended up being my favorite sections, and as more and more was revealed, the more affecting the choice became. I've loved every novel Jemisin has written, and The Killing Moon was my favorite, but I really think this novel has taken the top spot. How that's possible in a novel this grim was a surprise, but maybe because there are places where there's happiness and hope amid the disasters makes you keep going, reaching for exactly the retribution and semblance of peace Essun is chasing across The Stillness. 100% recommended if you like dark epic fantasy (I don't think this is grimdark, specifically? But I have been wrong before because I Don't Understand Grimdark.).

Date: 2015-09-07 09:52 pm (UTC)
ashen_key: ([MFMM] hard earned)
From: [personal profile] ashen_key
I think the issue with queer characters suffering, even though everyone else is, too, is that queer people don't HAVE a wealth of literature where we're happy. Or able to be happy. Straight people do. So, to me it's just more of the same.

The Fifth Season

Date: 2015-09-07 10:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] theillustratedpage.wordpress.com
I wouldn't look at it solely as queer characters - I think it's important to note the intersection with race. The Fifth Season has a heavy focus on power dynamics and slavery. It's also written by an African American feminist, so it's interesting to view those themes in light of the author.

Also, I got the feeling that the "queer characters being denied agency" was just if they had orogeny and were thus enslaved. At the beginning of the novel the narrator mentions some random market lady who flirts with her. There were other little things like that that made me think queer people were generally accepted in main stream society.

I think it's very much a novel about agency and lack of, and a lot of Essun's character arc in the book is her struggling for agency.

Date: 2015-09-07 11:31 pm (UTC)
redheadedfemme: (Default)
From: [personal profile] redheadedfemme
(Sigh)

I'll have to stretch my credit card a little wider, I guess.

Date: 2015-09-08 01:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] readingtheend.pip.verisignlabs.com
KATE BISHOP. Isn't she marvelous? I just cherish her so much as a character, and I absolutely love it when she hangs out with Clint. (Er, I mean, when HE hangs out with HER.) Now that the full comic is finished, I'm excited to go back and reread the whole thing. The art's just gorgeous: I think even more than the writing, the art made me attach to Clint emotionally. David Aja does an amazing job capturing what a damn mess he is. I dunno.

But anyway: KATE BISHOP KATE BISHOP FOREVER.

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