Wednesday, August 1, 2012

DAMN Good Comics -- HAWKEYE #1

No, no way.  I'm not going to say this book was "on target" or "hit the bullseye" or some other lame archery-related pun.  You can't make me.

What I will say is that after several attempts over the years to produce a Hawkeye series actually worth your valuable time and money, Marvel finally got it right.  The first issue of this post-Avengers movie take on the character features Clint Barton in costume for only two pages, while the rest focuses on what happens all-too-rarely in Hawkeye comics, namely giving Clint a substantive personality.

In "Lucky," writer Matt Fraction reminds us what we loved so much about his run on Immortal Iron Fist and the first few years of Invincible Iron Man.  Once again, we have a classic Marvel hero somewhat down on his luck, with the entire universe seemingly stacked against him, but still forging ahead to Do The Right Thing.  Clint is seriously injured as Hawkeye early on, during some unexplained skirmish, and as soon as he leaves the hospital six weeks later, he's mixed up with Russian "tracksuit mafia" goons threatening to evict his neighbors from their building.

So essentially, Clint is the one looking out for the little guys who can't stand up for themselves, just not in the traditional Robin Hood way that his DC Comics counterpart Green Arrow tends to favor.  No, Clint's way is to try to make the Tracksuit Mafia problem go away with money and when that fails, only then does he step up and physically resolve the issue.  However, a dog that befriends Clint over a slice of pizza also ends up seriously injured in the process, making Clint extremely sympathetic as he becomes determined to save the dog's life.

Reuniting with Fraction is his Immortal Iron Fist artist David Aja, who alters his traditional style somewhat with thicker lines.  The resulting effect resembles David Mazzucchelli's work in Batman: Year One, with colorist Matt Hollingsworth reinforcing this style using a very similar color palette.  That's definitely not a bad thing, mind you, because it complements this gritty New York in August setting nicely.

Longtime Hawkeye fans should absolutely love that the character finally has a series that looks sustainable for the long term.  If this first issue is any indication, Fraction has done some considerable thinking about how he wants to handle Hawkeye and it's going to be highly entertaining to see where he and Aja take the series from here.

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