We’re 8 issues into Matt Fraction’s chronicles of Clint Barton’s non-Avenging exploits, and some major points remain consistent: Firstly, it’s really, really, funny. Secondly it’s pacey and lean, like a whippet that hasn’t eaten for a month chasing a rabbit. Finally, it is absolutely brilliant.
Fraction has spent the last 7 issues building a supporting cast for Hawkeye in his little microcosm of an apartment building. Now Fraction is beginning to build on that with the return of Cherry (or is that even her name?), who we last saw leaving on a plane after hi-jinks and a high-speed car chase with Clint and Kate. Turns out there’s more to both her and the tracksuit wearing mobsters that she’s connected with than first meets the eye. And so the plot thickens.
There’s just so much to love here. David Aja is continually fabulous, a master storyteller whose layouts work like film laid out across a comic page. Cinematic, but in the sense of an indie flick as opposed to a summer blockbuster. Aja is both expressive and a touch expressionistic, his lines sparse, faces blurred, and silhouettes bold. Annie Wu joins the team to provide a series of beautiful full-page art pieces that break up the issue into mini-episodes and provide a more defined contrast to Aja. There’s so much information and character packed into each one, and it’s a very clever way to fill out the mysterious redhead’s backstory. Yet one more wonderful visual tool that this book has added to it’s collection as it continues to play with the format. Matt Hollingsworth again brings the colors that give the book it’s distinct hue. The art on this book is just stellar. I don’t have enough praise for it.
Fraction is also on top form here. His trademark style, full of vigour, quips and idiosyncrasy is in full flow, and he seems to revel in putting Clint in difficult and embarrassing situations. This is so far from being a typical superhero book, and it’s really starting to cement Hawkeye as a street level hero, which is where I feel he always should have been, instead of screwing around with the Avengers all the time (although, let’s face it, that’s great fun too). Clint is such a loveable idiot and Fraction has made him a pleasure to read, even as we find ourselves shaking our head at his willingness to do ridiculous, dangerous things to help a pretty girl.
This issue is a great, pacy blend of action and humour, showcasing Matt Fraction’s strengths as a writer. There are yet more classic Clint-isms (that’s what I’m calling them now. They’re a thing. I’m making them a thing) and mix-ups and misunderstandings and Russian mobsters in tracksuits… There’s so much going to like here, seasoned with, but not overwhelmed by, the larger trappings of the Marvel Universe. The drama is much more human, and that’s something that everyone can get behind. It’s a great gateway drug for the Marvel Universe, and everyone should be reading it.
So, are you reading Hawkeye yet? Nope? What are you waiting for? Fraction and Aja are doing some of the best work of their careers here. Get on the HAWKGUY train and ride it all the way to awesome.