REVIEW: Hawkeye #1

by

Or – “I Still Miss His Cool Pointy Mask…”

Clint Barton has had a number of regular and mini-series in his long run at Marvel (remember, he first appeared in 1950 during the first season of M*A*S*H* 1964 as an antagonist for Iron Man) but most of them have been less than successful.  Probably my favorite was a mostly-forgotten Fabian Nicieza book from ’03 or so, but after his showing in the Avengers movie, the battling bowman is back on his own.  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!

HAWKEYE #1
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: David Aja
Cover Artist(s): David Aja & Matt Hollingworth/Adi Granov/Pasqual Ferry & Matt Hollingsworth
Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Stephen Wacker
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, in Hawkeye:  The life of a showoff is never easy.  Clint Barton has been through the wringer in his time, going from dirt-poor orphan to circus star to villain to Avenger before he knew it.  Now, after a couple of death and resurrections, he’s back alongside the most powerful creatures alive, acting as the voice of reason/deadpan snarker, and using his sharp, pointy sticks to hang in with Norse gods, super-soldiers and men of iron.  You gotta respect that, especially since (unlike Batman) he doesn’t have “super-checkbook” among his repertoire of abilities…

THE SEEDY BITS OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE

One of the most fun parts of the aforementioned 2003 Hawkeye series was seeing Clint in his native element, i.e. skeevy bars, dark alleys, the occasional hot tub.  There’s something about Hawkeye that never quite completely escapes his days with the traveling circus, and Matt Fraction nails that part of the character cold.  We open with the hero falling off a building, thinking, “Okay, this looks bad.”  Heh.  There’s a lot going on in this issue, from that point on, but the best part of it is how seamlessly the art and story work together, especially in the early pages.  Hawkeye ends up hospitalized for SIX WEEKS (no healing factors here, folks) and then returns home to his apartment in a particularly dingy part of Bedford-Stuyvesant.  The supporting cast is introduced quickly and efficiently, as is this issue’s conflict, as Clint’s less-than-savory landlord triples the rent on everyone in the building to try and force them out.  There’s no reason for Hawkeye to champion these people, other than the fact that no one else will, and that moment crystallizes for me how perfectly in sync my expectations of this character and Fraction’s are.

ALL IN A DAY’S WORK FOR A MIGHTY AVENGER…

Hawkeye never puts on his super-suit or picks up his bow after leaving the hospital, but I still enjoy every page of the issue, as he gets in slightly over his head with the landlord, starts a fight at a hidden underground casino (or, a filthy backroom where creeps play cards, whichver) and even ends up adopting a dog, albeit after the bad guys chuck the poor beast into traffic.  Most importantly for me, there’s no emergency call for Iron Man, no real expectation that this is an Avengers mission, just one man using his wits and a huge bag of money for a diversion.  The best part is how much Clint downplays his big bag of cash.  As an Avenger, he makes the usual stipend money, but points out that he doesn’t really do much that costs money, and he either eats at Avengers Tower or with his neighbors on the roof of the apartment.  This is a perfect first issue, introducing the character, giving us a clear take on what Fraction and Aja want to do with him, and making even an adventure this minor an exhilarating ride through Clint Barton’s life.

THE BOTTOM LINE: HOLY CRAP, THIS IS A FUN ISSUE.

This book is good.  That’s really all you need to know.  Hawkeye #1 nails the execution, and hits the metaphorical bullseye (I’m sure I’m the only reviewer to think of THAT clever bon mot) for 5 out of 5 stars overall.  It’s a good looking comic, a great read, and there’s not a giant cosmic war nor an epic standoff to be found, just a well-written character doing the right thing for the right reasons, and fighting the good fight.  You won’t regret reading this…

Rating: ★★★★★