Comic BooksReview

"Breaking Into" Series: Hawkeye

Maya Zach ’17/ Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Clint Barton as Hawkeye, know to movie fans as the character played by Jeremy Renner
Clint Barton as Hawkeye, know to movie fans as the character played by Jeremy Renner

There have been many failed attempts to create a comic book series revolving around Hawkeye. But if you are looking for a series about  Earth’s Mightiest Marksman, look no further than Matt Fraction and David Aja’s currently running series from Marvel Now! It sheds a whole new light on Clint Barton and does so with both artistic and literary grace.

Though the series is about Hawkeye, a superhero, it doesn’t feel too much like a superhero comic. Rather than fighting villains as an Avenger, Barton ends up fighting crime that hits a little closer to home. Fraction introduces his readers to Clint Barton when he is off the clock. It revolves around Clint trying to live every day life, which is surprisingly difficult for someone of his wealth and stature. He takes any threats against his friends and acquaintances personally, which leads to a lifelong vendetta against the “Tracksuit Draculas.” These are Russian tracksuit-wearing mobster bros that seek revenge on Barton after he stops their plot to evict everyone from his apartment building.

Since Barton is off duty, he isn’t surrounded by the other Avengers or Thunderbolts to steal focus from him. This allows Fraction to add layers of depth to Clint’s character that have not really been previously exposed. As always, he is bitter, grumpy, and a little self-absorbed. And Clint oozes sarcasm and wit that nearly rivals Tony Stark. However, Fraction also explores his softer side. The first time you see this gentler side is when he nearly gets himself killed to save a dog from being beaten by one of the Tracksuit Draculas. Though Clint is intent on exuding a macho persona, he cares immensely for this dog—who he adopts and names Lucky—and treats him better than he treats most people.

Clint Barton and Kate Bishop in Hawkeye
Clint Barton and Kate Bishop in Hawkeye

Maybe everyone except for his best friend and cohort Kate Bishop, the ex-Young Avenger who took on the Hawkeye persona after Clint died temporarily (It’s complicated, don’t worry about). These two have an incredibly unhealthy relationship, but it seems to work incredibly well for them. Kate checks in on him frequently, always has his back in a fight, and tends to nag him quite often. On the other side of the friendship, Clint hides from Kate, keeps secrets, and gets her into trouble. But she can’t resist the adventures they go on—whether he knows that she’s accompanying him or not—and they have a lot of fun together. She looks up to Clint as a role model when it comes to being a hero (A little less so when she sees how un-put together his life is), but she straddles the line of respecting him and having a legitimate crush on him. And, though there is a major age difference, at times it seems as though Clint might reciprocate these feelings. But don’t worry, the characters are written smartly enough to avoid the clichés that typically come along with this type of relationship.

An example of David Aja's fantastic art
An example of David Aja’s fantastic art

Matt Fraction’s dialogue is gritty and down-to-earth; he doesn’t make Barton a genius or a master of wit, instead he makes a him realistic and relatable character. This suits him well, as Hawkeye is a self-made hero. David Aja’s simplistic, yet realistic drawings, coupled with Matt Hollingsworth’s muted color palette creates an unembellished art style that perfectly matches the tone of the understated, uncomplicated language. Due to this dynamic team, the series is both a joy to read and look at.

Though the character of Hawkeye has struggled to sell comics in the past, this time around, the issues are flying off of the shelf. As they very well should be! The wise decision to focus on Clint Barton when he isn’t busy being a superhero allows him to shine as a character, a person, and a friend, allowing easy entry into the character without being bogged down by years of history.

Senior Editor Stephen Wacker said on this, “Clint Barton has been around for almost 50 years, but what Matt Fraction and David Aja have done with Hawkeye has breathed new life into the character and provided a clean entry point for the street level Avenger.”

It serves as a reminder that he isn’t the master assassin that he appears to be in The Avengers film; he is just an ex-carnie, ex-criminal turned superhero. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that! The real, original Hawkeye is easily more interesting than the film made him out to be, and that’s what the fans want to see.

Matt Fraction’s run on Hawkeye begins with Hawkeye (2012) #1 available at Marvel’s website.

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