5 Reasons to Read Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye
Okay, this looks bad.
This is not a reference to the contents of this post. I’ll leave the judgment up to you. No, this is a reference to one of my all time favorite comic book runs: Hawkeye by Matt Fraction.
For those who aren’t familiar with the character, Clint Barton AKA Hawkeye is one of the Avengers. He has no superpowers or special mutant genes; he’s just an ex-carnie-thief-turned-good-guy with a bow, quiver full of arrows, and an uncanny aim. If you’ve seen any of the Marvel movies, he’s the one played by Jeremy Renner — you know, the one who suddenly had a farm and a secret farm family in Avengers: Age of Ultron. He’s easily the Avenger lost in the shuffle among a cast that includes the likes of Captain America and Iron Man in the MCU. In Matt Fraction’s comic run however, he shines.
Maybe you’re thinking that comic books aren’t your thing. And maybe you’re right because not every type of creative medium appeals universally to everyone. But I strongly suggest giving this book a chance. It’s one of my all time favorites; so much so that I embraced my utter and total nerdiness and attended New York Comic Con 2015 as this version Hawkeye (signed photos available upon request for a small purchase of $19.95). So take it from me. It’s good. Better than good. It’s a blast. And here’s why.
It has humor…
Clint Barton is an absolute mess who loves dogs, napping, and sandwiches. In the words of the author himself, Barton is a “a crap-sack tire fire of a human being.” When he’s not out on missions with the Avengers or SHIELD, he’s living in his run down apartment building in Bed-Stuy; clashing with tracksuit clad Russian mobsters; dealing with his ex wife, work wife, partner, and girlfriend; falling off buildings; and trying to prevent international crises with a handful or trick arrows (including a boomerang arrow — it comes back to you in the end).
This story follows a guy people can relate to more than a superhero or billionaire (I mean, who hasn’t wanted to drink straight out of a coffee pot at one time or another?). Clint isn’t really anyone. He’s an orphan with a history of an abusive childhood. His heroics go unnoticed and unthanked. The people he helps constantly think he’s Iron Fist. But that doesn’t stop him from going out there and helping anyway, even though the chances are he’ll land himself a few (or many) broken bones in the process. In fact, that’s the point of the whole series, according to Fraction. “To me, he [Hawkeye] is the human heart and soul of the Avengers. So it was fun to do a book like that. About somebody who compulsively can’t stop helping people, even when he’s a human crap-sack tire fire of a human being.” Some context to the quote!
Hawkeye (the other one)
This series took the previously ancillary Young Avengers character Kate Bishop, and paired her with her namesake. She’s a young, rich, and skilled archer who was dubbed Hawkeye 2.0 by Captain America Chris Evans Steve Rogers himself during a time when Clint was fake-dead but secretly running around vigilante style (comic storylines are just like soap operas, bear with me). Clint is her sort-of mentor, sort-of grumpy uncle-figure and she’s his conscience and pain in the ass. This comic run takes Kate out of the passenger seat and truly lets her lead the way on her own with a subplot that takes place across the country from Clint, ending any questions of the fabulous Kate Bishop being anyone’s sidekick.
And the award for best supporting character in Hawkeye goes to: Lucky, the Pizza Dog! If you love doggos (like you should), then Lucky is for you. He’s a good boy with one eye and a taste for pizza. Instead of being just a cute addition to appeal to readers’ love for cute puppers, Lucky plays one of the most memorable parts of the entire series when an entire issue is told from his point of view. Not only is this entertaining, but the storytelling device is so utterly unique that it’s hard to forget. Which brings us to…
Besides the famed Pizza Dog issue, this series takes some bold creative risks with regards to storytelling that I’ve yet to see replicated elsewhere. For instance, one issue is told from the perspective of Clint sans hearing aids. That’s right, our brave protagonist is deaf. The issue is told almost completely through sign language, lip reading, and visual cues. Along that thread, the art is delightful and just plain fun; it’s just as entertaining as the writing it illustrates. I’m very partial to the color scheme of the whole series, since it’s based on shades of my favorite color, purple.
Overall, this is a fun and entertaining read. You don’t have to be familiar with any Marvel plot lines or characters or even Clint or Kate themselves. It’s a story that’s accessible to both new and seasoned readers alike. Check out Volume 1 here OR go for the whole shebang and grab the entire series here. 10/10 Jennas recommend.