Matt Fraction’s take on Clint Barton’s non-Avengers adventures is my favourite comic right now. Unlike most other comics I’m reading, I’ll drop whatever I’m doing to read the latest issue.
It has been consistently excellent since issue one, portraying Barton as an slightly awkward, trouble-magnet of a bachelor.
With a female Hawkeye sidekick and an adopted dog.
Think “Batman”, add layers of in-jokes, sarcasm and popular culture and some kick-ass art. And then you’ll be scratching the surface of what makes this book so good.
And if Robin served to make Batman feel great about himself (Holy hero-worship, Batman!), Kate Bishop is there to take Hawkeye down a notch and remind him of his (many) weaknesses. Their pairing in this book is pure genius. Rather than awkwardly avoid the fact that there are basically two people running around the Marvel universe calling themselves “Hawkeye”, writer Matt Fraction turns this into a source of humour.
Mostly at Barton’s expense.
I’ll be honest. Hawkeye hasn’t been one of my favourite characters in the past. I always thought he was pretty pointless, alongside super-powered heavy-hitters like Iron Man, Vision, Thor and the rest. He was a great shot with a bow and arrow.
A bow. And arrow.
And his garish purple costumes and terrible headgear were over the top, even for the 1980s Avengers. Just like Adam West’s over-the-top utility belt on Batman, old-school Hawkeye always seemed to have just the “trick” arrow to save the day.
Since being killed and then reborn in the New Avengers a few years back, he’s climbed the ladder of cool and now actually makes for a compelling character. It also helped that he featured in the Avengers movies and was portrayed as a serious hard-ass by Jeremy Renner.
Yes, he’s still the guy with the bow and arrow, but now we see him tackling street-level crime (and the kinds of problems that ordinary people encounter). And, a lot like his fellow street-level heroes Spider-Man and Daredevil, his luck just sucks.
Which makes for such excellent stories.