REVIEW: Hawkeye #5


Or – “Okay…  This Looks Bad.”

Matt Fraction’s impeccable writing on Immortal Iron Fist a few years ago has given him almost unlimited carte blanche to get me reading his projects.  He followed that by doing the impossible and making Iron Man palatable after the Civil War debacle, and has been making the adventures of Clint Barton (often mocked as the most ridiculous of the Avengers, thanks to his super-power of “archery”) into must-read material.  How will he pull Hawkeye & Hawkeye’s fat out of the fire after last month’s cliffhanger?  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!

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

Previously, in Hawkeye:  The Avengers have been rocked by the revelation that a tape of Hawkeye killing an international terrorist (the Marvel Universe equivalent, it seems, of Osama Bin Laden) is up for bid on the super-villain black market.  Clint Barton has followed the trail to Madripoor (Oriental city, but the city don’t know what the city does best) and gotten in waaay over his head.  His purloined Avengers credit card has been used by Madame Masque to win the auction for the tape, only to discover that the REAL Madame Masque is unconscious, and her place has been taken by Kate Bishop, the second Hawkeye.  Clint, for his part, is about to be murdered by a dozen ninja assassins.  All in a day’s work for Hawkeye & Hawkeye!


Y’know what’s great?  When things aren’t exactly what they seem to be, and your best guess ends up being wrong not because you’re stupid, but because the story is more complicated than it seemed at first.  This issue starts with the familiar mantra: “Okay, this looks bad.”  In this case, it happens because Clint Barton has leapt out the window of his Madripoor hotel room, still bound at the wrists, and is likely to fall to his doom.  At the same time, Kate Bishop has made the mistake of watching the mysterious tape that all the super-villains are looking for, only to find her mentor/love-interest shooting a known criminal in the face.  The tape proves that the Avengers and the government have been lying to everyone, and also seems to prove that Clint has lied to Kate.  The level of awesome in this first half of the story is quite high, but it gets even more amazing when the real Madame Masque awakens, and proves herself to be a credible threat even years after her relevance seemed to have ended.  (That, by the way, underlines another good reason to hate the Hood’s “mass of vaguely identifiable villains” plotline back in New Avengers.  It made guys like Madame Masque and the Wizard nothing but mooks, when they could be written like she is here and still work as hardcore threats.)


This issue also brings back something that I loved in ‘Incredible Hercules’ a few years ago, the awesome sound effect onomatopoeia.  An exploding window says “K-GLASSS!” while a kicked in door goes “Footoomp!”  Most entertaining of all is the continuation of Clint’s “Hero Savant” tendencies, as he manages to pull off an incredible save, but loses his shoe and cuts the hell out of himself on some broken glass.  The second half of this book ratchets up the tension, gives Madame Masque a serious bad-@$$ moment, and ends with a perfect dramatic twist.  Clint and Kate get some great moments together (especially discussing the craziness of Masque and the awkward fact that Kate had to pull his Avengers credit card out of a very private place last ish.)  Art-wise, Javier Pulido doesn’t quite give the same level of chiaroscuro brilliance that David Aja is capable of, but he delivers very good work that stays well within the expected aesthetic of Aja’s style.  The battle sequences are especially fun, and bits of the issue remind me of Tim Sale’s work on ‘The Long Halloween’ and ‘Spider-Man: Blue.’


Some people hate it when I don’t reveal every single detail of the story in a review, and I can certainly understand that, but the payoff here is so good that to try and explain/recap it would both undermine the coolness of the plotting, and ruin the book for you when you do go pick it up.  Suffice to say that it’s a rare moment that subverts and plays straight the spy-movie conceit, and it puts Hawkeye #5 in the same class as the first four, cementing the book as one of Marvel’s best, earning it 4.5 out of 5 stars overall.  I was a little concerned when last issue bucked the ‘done-in-one’ trend that had been playing out in Hawkeye, but I’m happy to say that Fraction, Pulido and company put that fear out to pasture with a quickness…

Rating: ★★★★½


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About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!And a nice red uniform.

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