Review – Hawkeye (2012)
Writer: Matt Fraction
Primary Artist: David Aja
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: August 01, 2012
Skilled archer, assassin, ninja, Avenger, all things that Clint Barton A.K.A. Hawkeye USED to be. After experiencing everything from the likes of leading his own Avengers branch in West Coast Avengers to death by Bendis in Avengers: Dissasembled, Barton has been through the ringer. But just because there’s a fresh new Hawkeye on the scene in Kate Bishop, that doesn’t mean good old Clint’s gonna get replaced…right!? Well… contrary to Barton’s track record with women, Clint Barton and Kate Bishop do make an excellent team as their archery skills are unmatched by anyone except for each other.
Even though their lives aren’t exactly filled with all the glamor and pizzazz as your average Iron Man or Captain America, this duo of purple archers make a strangely perfect team. Yep! As for these heroes, their base of operations is none other than a busy city apartment building. Because nothing says teamwork like mysterious carpet stains and rooftop barbecues! In fact, due to a strange turn of events, Clint quickly finds himself in ownership of the building in order to keep rent from forcing the residents out into the streets. But things aren’t all sunshine and roses as Barton’s new trek into the world of being a landlord brings with it the attention of a particularly stubborn russian “tracksuit mafia.” And you know it’s gonna get crazy when a clown assassin knocks on that front door!
This 22 issue story stars two purple-wearing personalities and their unique dynamic, but is in many ways about the community that revolves around the apartment they live in. Each resident of the apartment complex is a part of the building’s day to day life and provides meaningful relationships with Clint. A man seemingly stuck in-between the life of a superhero and the lives of the people, not being able to fully integrate into either group. Clint does however find himself a new friend in Lucky, the pizza-loving’ dog that he saves from the ever-persistent “bros” that make up the tracksuit mafia.
Kate on the other hand is a hotshot newbie with everything to prove and nothing to do..except sit and bicker with Clint of course! So as she continues to show off her sharpshooting skills, she eventually decides to head out on her own and do some private eye detective work. Kate finds herself driving all the way across America to California with the heart and soul of the team, Lucky, at her side.
Kate’s journey to California and her adventures, there are ones that both differentiates the character that she took her superhero name from as well as showing the importance and uniqueness of their relationship. Kate’s relationship with Hawkeye is in no way romantic and doesn’t follow the roles of a master and a pupil. But rather a dynamic that works off of each others best and worst aspects and they always know that at the end of the day they have each other as a shoulder to lean on.
David Aja primarily fills the role of artist throughout the series. But throughout the story, especially in Kate-centric issues, a variety of different authors take up the task. Aja does a great job at making his work unique and his art style is clearly a large part of what makes this book stand out. Aja is particularly excellent at visual storytelling and constantly finds unique ways to tell a story through his illustrations. In many ways, Aja’s work is the biggest treat of the entire book. His creative ideas translate perfectly to the characters. These noteworthy accomplishments include an issue seen entirely from the perspective of Lucky, using simplistic but instantly recognizable symbols that shifts the perspective of the story into the eyes of the fan-favorite dog. In the second half of the story, Fraction introduces a new element in the story for Barton’s character, leaving him temporarily deafened right after the introduction of his even more washed-up than him brother. This leads us to see how a current event relates to something in the Barton family past, and shows how much Clint has grown in that time. Aja uses this opportunity to show a completely unique type of storytelling, leaving out almost all dialogue in the entire issue except for the use of sign language throughout. Leaving the reader to try to understand the things that are being said purely through the gestures and portrayals within the art.
All the other artists included also do a great job at contributing their own skills to the book. While I personally may be more keen to some art styles than others, each one shows a side of the characters in a unique way that usually depicts a brand new experience in a brand new landscape for Hawkeye and co. The changes to the artwork is mostly used when Kate Bishop is on her own adventures and really differentiates her story as a unique contribution to the overarching narrative.
As a huge fan of the Hawkeye character, this series has been a real treat. Clint Barton specifically is a character that isn’t as prominent in the mainstream as many of his fellow Avengers. So when a series comes along starring the Avenging Archer, it’s gotta really stand out to reach the demographic it can reach when at it’s fullest potential. And this series has seemed to do just that. Hawkeye by Matt Fraction is a series that is hard for an avid Marvel comics reader to avoid considering how well received it truly has been. Ever since it’s release it has gained a large following and is known for being a modern classic among the Marvel fanbase. I believe that this praise is completely earned. And if anything is deserving enough to be considered a “character-defining run”, its Matt Fraction’s run on Hawkeye.
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