HAWKEYE #1 by Matt Fraction and David Aja
It looks like Jeremy Renner’s portrayal of Hawkeye has been on target, so to speak. Enough so that the valiant archer has garnered some serious street cred from Marvel Comics, because they appear to be pulling out all the stops to get Hawkeye increased public awareness.
The new series promises to spend more time on Hawkeye as Clint Barton, the man, not the superhero, and I have to wonder how long that can go on because even in this first issue I kept waiting for Hawkeye to pull out the bow and nock a few arrows.
True, as Hawkeye the Avenger, Clint has journeyed through space and to other worlds and taken on all kinds of alien dreadnaughts, so taking on a couple of Russian hardcases with guns shouldn’t be too much of a hassle. But, as Hawkeye reminds readers, when he’s not around the Avengers or other superheroes, he’s pretty much just a guy.
He gets hurt, and he’s human enough to resent all the pain that he goes through.
But he doesn’t let that keep him from being the man he wants to be. Writer Matt Fraction (who has written some of my favorite Iron Fist stories and has had an excellent run on Iron Man that has been rocking the comics world) certainly seems to be in touch with the man inside that flamboyant purple costume. Of course, writing elegant characters is one of the things that Fraction does best.
The art is choppy, and I wasn’t won over by the artist the first time I saw the issue. David Aja is a fine artist, though, but I just didn’t think his style would work on Hawkeye, which I saw as primarily a superhero title. Man, I was wrong. There’s NOBODY else that could deliver the gritty illustrations that bring the city to life around Hawkeye the way that Aja does.
Not only does Aja deliver key action sequences, but he pulls the surrounding characters into the story really well too. The dog, Arrow or whatever his name eventually becomes, became three-dimensional in the story. When he got stranded in the street during one of the fight scenes, I was cringing. The panel changes and sequencing are cinematic. I could feel the rain in those scenes, and that made all the difference in the storytelling.
Fraction’s story, the way he weaves the past and the present together in this stand-alone tale, is fascinating from the first page, and just gets bigger and bigger as it goes, till it’s a tumbling snowball that slams into the final page when he finally turns loose of the emotional overdrive he’s had the reader on.
I don’t know what Fraction intends for a follow-up, but I’m there. If you think Hawkeye is just an incredibly good shot in a circus costume with good one-liners, you’ve got another think coming. This Hawkeye is an amazing man and I want to see more of him.