When the new Hawkeye series was released by Marvel, I wasn’t sure if I’d like it. As I mentioned when I reviewed issue #1, I was pleasantly surprised. Different writers have had vastly different takes on the Avengers’ archer (I really was not a fan of how he was portrayed in Chuck Austen’s run on Avengers a long time ago) but Matt Fraction is definitely surprising me here. The story within (which is an encapsulated story) was well written and showed some personality to the two main characters of classic-Hawkeye Clint Barton and recent-Hawkeye Kate Bishop, but also showed the humanity of them both and their budding relationship as partners. (Take that as you will.)
David Aja’s artwork is, once again, stunning. Let’s start with the simple yet telling cover art. Two archers, aiming their arrows to the sky, both in outline form. Shading within that of Clint and Kate. And coloring using different shades or purple to differentiate the different Hawkeyes. And this is just the cover. Inside, we are not disappointed by the artwork. Many of the panels are classic in nature, which really works with these characters. Hawkeye is a classic character whose roots have stayed constant for many years, and this classic style of paneling works amazingly well. The artwork is detailed when it needs to be, simple when it needs to be, and a hybrid as necessary. Add in Matt Hollingsworth’s coloring (which also goes for simple, and purple to showcase the characters) this is a gorgeous book to look at.
We do see some classic Clint in this issue: he goes out for coffee and picks up a woman. Woman is in trouble. Clint helps. Clint steps in more doo-doo than he really should have and now has to save the day – not because he is obligated to, but because that is simply who he is. But is this book about rescuing a damsel in distress? No. Is this book about a relationship between Hawkeye and another woman who could become a femme fatale? No.
This issue is a fun issue, like all 3 have been so far. This issue has so many panels, discussions, and jokes around Hawkeye’s long-time sidekicks… his trick arrows. I think Fraction really did his homework on the arrows the character has used for many years, as they all seem to show up. And Kate seems to ridicule him for it – “Why the hell do you need an arrow that comes back to you after you shoot it, Clint?” “Because… Boomerangs.” But which other old friends show up? Net arrow. Bola arrow. Acid arrow. Tracer arrow. Putty. Sonic. You get the picture.
But even with all the arrow reminiscing, as mentioned earlier, Clint still falls for the girl. Into her bed. And when she is attacked, do you think the bad guys have the decency to wait until Clint puts his pants on before coming to get her? No. But Hawk still has to make a play to get to cover so he can rescue the lovely young lady.
To protect the eyes of young readers since the Comics Code Authority is no longer around, and since we haven’t seen him in costume yet this issue, let’s make sure we can protect Clint’s *ahem* personal space by reminding readers of who it is these thugs are going up against. And with this scene, which is both humorous and a foreshadow of which persona of Clint will appear in the rest of the book, we know that no matter what Clint will save the girl.
That being said, there is one thing I didn’t like in the story and that’s Hawk’s continuity with the rest of the Marvel U. In Avengers, Clint is dating Jessica “Spider-Woman” Drew. Even though Clint is a bit of a jack-@$$ at times, he’s always been a one-woman man when he is with a woman. Forgetting this relationship (unless Bendis removes it altogether in the End Games stories of Avengers going on right now) is something that I’m not happy about. We need Hawkeye to still be the same Hawkeye across all books, otherwise it’s like Spider-Man in his 87 different simultaneous titles as well as his role as members of both the Fantastic Four and Avengers. I understand you need to make Hawk his own guy in this title, but don’t forget where he is in other books as well.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Hawkeye is one of Marvel’s top books for the forseeable future. Even though it’s not launching as a Marvel NOW! title it is definitely a future of Marvel title that they need to promote. I saw a lot for issue #1, but since then it’s all promo for Marvel NOW! Marvel, don’t leave great books like this hanging while you focus on the future. This is a new title, this is also the future. And I see a strong future due to amazing characters (one who is an Avenger and one who I hope will reappear in the new Young Avengers), a writer who will be doing amazing things in Marvel NOW (remember, Fraction is also taking over Fantastic Four and FF), and a visual trifecta of Aja, Hollingsworth and Chris Eliopoulos bringing the visuals to bed.