This isn’t about how great Matt Fraction is, but rather about the risks he takes. What I love about Matt Fraction is how much and how hard he tries. There are a number of writers working on multiple big-name titles, with varying degrees of consistency and punctuality, but none as willing to try different things as Matt Fraction, and that deserves celebrating. Over in our Top 10 Single Issues article I praised the pool party issue of FF (#9, for those keeping track), which largely took the form of a home movie being filmed by one of the Future Foundation, complete with videobombing, awkward angles, and direct-to-camera address. It’s certainly a novel way to reinvigorate the tired “downtime issue” model, and let Quinones flex some different muscles. Makes you wonder why this kind of formal play doesn’t happen more often, doesn’t it?
Then there’s the aforementioned Pizza Dog issue. Did anyone notice how they wrapped up the Kate/Clint arc (for the time being) with poignancy, with heart, but without any emo/snarky/woefully inadequate dialogue? Of all the technical accomplishments in this issue, that was the one that stood out for me. Fraction knew not to try to write the unwriteable scene. How could you wrap up the Kate/Clint relationship without defining it, and thereby ruining it? Some criticize Hawkeye for being something of a glide, a shallow book made substantial by Aja’s pyrotechnics, but I see it the other way. Fraction’s achievement on this book is his true partnership with Aja, more precisely, his (if not quite silent) muted partnership. I love Casanova, but look at how much he wrote over the Wonder Twins’ art and you’ll appreciate how hard he must be editing himself to let Aja carry the weight. If only Scott Snyder would try the same thing.
This whole musical number from Sex Criminals #3 is pure Fraction, but a book whose appeal lies in its frankness about as personal a topic as sex demands such flourishes, it needs the creators to show they’re invested, not just tossing anecdotes around. Sex Criminals is the book where Fraction can express himself, and in doing so play freely without anyone checking the toys for scratches; (non)musical interludes such as this only add to the ur-narrative of a creator going beyond the mainstream’s panel grid.
Sure, he hasn’t stuck a landing yet on any of his 2013 titles, and several are hideously delayed. So what? Every issue that bears Fraction’s name feels to me like he’s trying something, like he’s aiming higher than a deadline and a cliffhanger. And that’s all I ask, that he continue to try.
– Taylor Lilley / CB