Posted September 6, 2012 by Mikael Angelo Francisco in Comics

COMIC BOOK REVIEW: Hawkeye #1 and #2

Reviewing Hawkeye #1-2 by Matt FractionDavid Aja and Matt Hollingsworth.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Hawkeye, despite what I perceived to be his relative uselessness to the Avengers. In a team that counts Asgardian gods, super-soldiers and literal knights-in-shining-armor as members of its fabled roster, it’s easy to see why a guy whose only superpowers are “shoots-arrows-really-well” and “likes-to-bang-every-female-member” would feel outclassed. Sure, he HAS saved the team time and again, but (as illustrated rather well in the recent Avenging Spider-Man #4) the pressure to step up and not look out of place will always linger in Clint Barton’s mind.

Matt Fraction solves this problem for Clint by letting him shine in his own eponymous ongoing. Focusing on Clint’s adventures as Hawkeye independent of the Avengers, Fraction takes him away from global-sized threats and shows just how effective he is as both a street-level hero and as an independent operative. In the first issue, we see Clint at his best – a rough-and-tumble swashbuckler with a soft spot for the little people (and defenseless animals). We also get glimpses at his thought process, and an entertaining intimidation sequence that underscores just how different he is from his mentor and idol, Captain America. In issue number 2, Clint and Kate Bishop (the Young Avengers’ own Hawkeye) work together to take down the Ringmaster and his circus, leading to Clint making some important decisions about his new personal mission.

I was genuinely surprised to see that Fraction can write fast-paced, self-contained stories really well; after the dragging snoozefest that was Fear Itself and the inconsistent Invincible Iron Man, Hawkeye is a refreshing and much-needed break. His dialogue is sharp, and I love the way he basically scripts his issues in order for the reader to see things in the same way Hawkeye would. For example, in a sequence where Hawkeye is walking past a dispute between a landlord and some tenants, we’re treated to speech balloons that say “(Some Spanish-sounding stuff!)” and “(Russian maybe?)”, indicating that this is how Clint processes the things he’s hearing. These subtle touches are cute, and show a level of understanding for the character that I have yet to see in other writers’ work. Fraction’s Hawkeye is cocky, yet aware of his own limitations.

Of course, the writing only seals half of the deal here, and thankfully, the artist does not disappoint. David Aja’s art here is AMAZING. From the first page of issue number 1, we see just how crazy Hawkeye’s life is, and it only gets worse (or better?) from there. His characters look like rough sketches, and it works perfectly with Fraction’s script. Aja’s work is appropriate for the tone and setting of the series – this is Hawkeye walking down mean streets and getting his hands dirty. The paneling here is brilliant, especially in sequences like the one where Kate is talking to Clint during target practice. Aja’s illustrations are definitely enhanced by Matt Hollingsworth’s coloring, and together, they make an art team that I hope will last for at least twenty-four issues.

VERDICT5/5 (for both issues)

Hawkeye is definitely a series worth following. It had a strong start, and if the second issue is any indication, it looks like the level of quality that Fraction, Aja and Hollingsworth deliver will be consistent every month. Believe me, if you’re not reading this now, you’re missing out on a lot.

Congratulations, Clint, you’ve redeemed yourself in my eyes after admitting that you tapped Moondragon.

Mikael Angelo Francisco