REVIEW: Hawkeye #2

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Or – “In Which An Unasked Question Is Answered…”

A few years ago, during a time when Clint Barton was dead, a young girl took over the role of Hawkeye.  Though Clint has been back for a couple years now, the question of what happened to the OTHER Hawkeye has been wiggling away in the back of my mind, especially given his high profile of late.  Apparently, Matt Fraction and I think alike, and your Major Spoilers review awaits!

HAWKEYE #2
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: David Aja
Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Steve Wacker
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, in Hawkeye:  Clint Barton, the world’s greatest archer, has set up shop in New York City, finding a home for himself in an inviting yet seedy neighborhood, a place where he can take a breather from his high-profile gig as an Avenger (and leader of the Secret Avengers.)  Last time around, Hawkeye had the best debut issue in recent memory, got himself a dog and found his groove again, and now it’s time to see if the Battling Bowman is about to hit a Sophomore Slump.

THE VAGABOND CODE.

Hawkeye number two opens similarly to #1, with Hawkeye leaping out a window as bullets strike all around him, remarking, “Okay…  This looks bad.”  Heh.  Thankfully, there’s no broken bones or hospital stays here, and this issue incredibly manages to improve on last almost immediately.  We find that Kate “Hawkeye II” Bishop of the Young Avengers is still active, and she and Clint quickly bond over archery and various criminal enterprises.  David Aja’s work is simply breathtaking this time out, with a full page that consists of Clint making a nearly impossible shot and Kate’s face, panel over panel, changing expression as she marvels at his skill.  The predominant color in the palette is pale purple, used as an accent on high-contrast black and white art, making the entire issue gorgeous to read, as well as letting him accent certain panels or items for dramatic effect.  It’s some very cool work, and it sets the tone for the issue’s events.

WILSON FISK: TOWN BICYCLE.

The villains of the piece this month are the Circus of Crime, including The Ringmaster and a new character who is (like Clint Barton) a student of the late Swordsman.  Hawkeye and Hawkeye infiltrate their performance (she is much better at espionage than he is, which is wonderful) and they end up in combat, with both heroes getting their individual awesome “Wolverine moment” during the story.  Most importantly, at issue’s end, Wilson Fisk (along with Hammerhead, Tombstone, Madame Masque, The Owl, and a woman I don’t recognize who looks like Sterling Archer’s mother) believes that Hawkeye is now his enemy, which should lead somewhere interesting.  There’s also an as-yet-unexplained plan that Clint is putting into place, a plan which Kate has agreed to be a part of, even though there is a weird and subtle quasi-romantic tension between the two of them.

THE BOTTOM LINE:  TWO WORDS – PHUH.  NOMINAL.

Hawkeye #2 does what I thought was impossible, improving on #1 and deepening my fascination with the character and his new life, earning a full-on 5 out of 5 stars overall.  There may be hope for mainstream Big Two superhero comics after all, if this series is any indication…

Rating: ★★★★★