August 2, 2012 at 2:42 pm By:

My love for the character of Hawkeye is well documented in the annals of the Heroes blog, so I won’t bore you with repetition.  I will, however, mention that I’m not usually the kind of reader who will buy up every comic bearing the character’s name.  Hawkeye’s solo comics have been all over the map in terms of quality.  Hearing the news about the latest ongoing series brought some youthful reminiscence about how I’ve enjoyed the character, but also some understandably cautious optimism.  This is, after all, a Hawkeye book.


Needless to say, the new creative team of Matt Fraction and David Aja had their work cut out for them.  Sure, they did a fine job over on Immortal Iron Fist, where they (along with co-writer Ed Brubaker) brought new relevance to a kung fu holdover from the seventies.  How would they approach a character as habitually undervalued as Hawkeye?  Among all the super soldiers, gods and billionaire geniuses on the Avengers, he’s the normal guy who happens to be really good at something anybody could be really good at if they had more time and less A.D.D.

There’s an everyman aspect to Hawkeye, but also a dichotomy. On one hand he’s a brash devil-may-care jump-before-thinking character. On the other hand he’s…well…a guy who fights robots and cosmic beings with a bow and some arrows. I’m sure he’s aware that his specific skill set probably gets lost in the flurry of repulsor rays and lightning bolts.

Fraction and Aja’s Hawkeye operates with this self-awareness, and has an innate sense of justice even when he’s not wearing a costume. The comic unfolds in a sensible, self-contained manner.  Even though we’re in the midst of Avengers vs. X-men, you won’t hear about it here.  This is about Clint Barton living his life outside of the costumed battles.  He still shows his skills when he needs to, but here the creators tell a very character driven story, which is refreshing not only because it’s a first issue, but because it’s being told when a big crossover is taking place.

Now I know there aren’t a lot of Hawkeye fans out there, so I’ll try another quick approach.  You might’ve heard that this book hearkens back to some of the crime films and t.v. shows from the seventies.  That’s probably a true assessment, especially given the letter column’s recommended listening of composer Lalo Schifrin.  Even more than this interesting observation, it’s worth mentioning that this is simply a solid comic all around.

Fraction uses a deft touch with the script, and knows when to get inside Barton’s head and when to let Aja’s art speak for itself.  He’s written several big titles like Invincible Iron Man, Mighty Thor and Fear Itself, but his work on Hawkeye is unique among those titles.  Fraction’s writing on Hawkeye suggests that he’s not only enjoying the work, but is finding new ways to stretch himself as a writer.

As for artist David Aja, it’s safe to say if you’re a fan of artists like David Mazzucchelli or Chris Samnee, you’ll certainly dig the work here.  Aja got a lot of deserved praise for his Immortal Iron Fist work, but if Hawkeye #1 is any indication, it’s safe to say that he’s refined his art even more for this new book.  Aja’s cover designs are pretty spectacular too, but I’ll let them speak for themselves.  It’s safe to say, this doesn’t look like any Hawkeye book you’ve seen before.

It comes down to this.  Even if you’re not a fan of this character, it’s worth giving this book a shot.  I might be a lifelong Hawkeye fan, but I’m a much bigger fan of well crafted comics.  Good comics should be enjoyed, celebrated and encouraged.  Hawkeye is a good comic book, and it’s only $2.99.  Give it a try.  You might be surprised.


Filed Under: DISCUSS, Reviews

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