Back in September, I reviewed the second issue of Fraction and Aja’s run on Hawkeye. Despite never being particularly into The Avengers, and knowing nothing about the character Hawkeye (Clint Barton) but what is in the The Avengers Assemble, the minimalistic, mod-style artwork drew me in; when I read it, I was so glad that I had. This run has managed to capture the attention of those who would never normally pick up Hawkeye and brought many of us to love this version of our hero, Clint.

The background is this: Clint Barton has become the leader of the Secret Avengers, and Kate Bishop of the Young Avengers has taken his mantle. This series isn’t about the Avengers though, just about Clint and Kate in their spare time, being heroes on an everyday scale; from saving a dog’s life and the homes of his neighbours in the first issue, to a high-speed car chase complete with trick arrows. But what all the issues have in common is that they portray Clint as a funny, easy-going good guy who just can’t help but get himself into scrapes.

The first issue is a simple story of a newly rich Clint Barton trying to save the homes of his neighbours by buying their apartment block. Of course money isn’t an issue for him any more, and he brings a bag of money to meet the Russian who owns the building but ends up in an all-out brawl in the streets, during which he kicks a dog out into traffic. Clint Barton, loveable hero, takes the dog to the vet’s to be patched up, and ends up going wild when faced with the man who hurt “Arrow” (who he renames Lucky).

The second, the one I reviewed last September, is a great single story of Clint and Kate infiltrating a circus show during which the criminal circus steals from the wealthiest scumbags in Manhattan. Not necessarily important enough for the Avengers to deal with, but Clint recognises the handiwork of the ringmaster as a student of the Swordsman, the man who taught Clint how to be a human weapon (hence, My Life As A Weapon). Clint and Kate’s relationship is beautiful; of course, with Clint, there is always the hint of sexual tension, but for once he is being sensible, and it only adds to the barbs of their loving insults.

The third issue is full of sex, car chases and trick arrows, which are fantastic. From the bola arrow to the putty arrow to the explosive-tip arrow…they are all great and fun to see in this high-paced, raunchy stand-alone issue. The fact that Clint wears purple boxers, and the countdown of his nine bad ideas of the day, are great examples of the humour of the comic, but easily the best visual gag of the issue is when Clint is found in an indecent situation and leaps across the bed naked with just a retro Hawkeye mask face covering his privates. It’s absolutely perfect.

Javier Pullido took over on the artwork in issues four and five, which go directly together and deal with some of the issues of the Avengers, as Kate and Clint try to get their hands on a video tape of Hawkeye committing a political assassination. The artwork is more traditional than Aja’s but that thread of purple colouring runs consistently throughout as Clint continues trying to charm his way out of incredibly awkward situations. Madame Masque is a rather interesting villain and Clint and Kate are a tight team as always. Some of the panels really stand out, such as those drenched in red and with Chris Eliopoulos’s hand-lettering. It’s another fun story which reinforces the idea that Clint really is a good, honest man – the best kind of superhero.

Perhaps an odd addition to the collection, the last issue is a Young Avengers Presents illustrated by Alan Davis, and the artwork is wildly different with much more vivid colours and almost fantasy-esque costumes. It mostly deals with Kate’s love-life, and the first time she and Clint meet and their friendship is formed. He puts a lot of trust in her, and it’s interesting to see how the relationship has developed throughout Aja’s run.

Hawkeye is a comic book for people who enjoy funny, loveable superheroes who aren’t too serious. The humour is typical of the humour of Deadpool and Spider-Man, where not only the heroes are goofy but also the book itself – just one great example is that when someone speaks in a language Clint doesn’t understand, it is translated to a rough approximation of what he thinks it means, and insults are replaced with “(Derogatory patriarchal epithet)”. Every issue begins with the line “Okay, this looks bad”, and it usually really is; poor Clint. Aja’s mod artwork is both retro and refreshing, Fraction’s writing ensures Clint’s humour is unrelenting, and Matt Hollingsworth’s colouring is exquisitely subtle. Easily one of the funniest superhero comic books you’re likely to pick up this year.

Originally posted on the Travelling Man blog


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