(p) David Aja
Matt Fraction might be at a career high point right now. He’s finishing up his amazing run on Invincible Iron Man, he’s taking over Fantastic Four and FF starting in November, and he’s still got time to craft one of the best comic stories I’ve ever read. Hawkeye isn’t about being Hawkeye at all. It’s meant to be an homage to everything Clint Barton is or can be when he doesn’t wear the proverbial mask. And it’s not restricted to Clint Barton, as Young Avengers Kate Bishop (a.k.a. Hawkeye II) has appeared in two of the three current issues, making her a main character more or less. Superheroes are just people with powers and masks – Matt Fraction takes this credo to heart in his writing and it shows through his manipulation of everyday human behavior to better convey his stories.
Hawkeye #3 is not about the Vagabond code, as Marvel so ceremoniously trumpeted for weeks leading up to it’s release. Just like most ridiculous events or situations that happen in our everyday lives, the Hawkeyes’ life gets turned upside down when a simple trip to the store for tape turns into a high-speed car chase between a 1970 Charger and a phalanx of Mini Coopers. Somehow, Fraction and David Aja are able to convey the pacing and context of an movie-style chase, retaining all the elements that make them exciting while eliminating the huge explosions and impossible stunts.
Fraction’s take on Clint and Kate put them in a more casual role. Maybe when one’s in the presence of Captain America, Thor, and the like, it’s harder to be loose and natural. Maybe that’s why the Avengers tend to sound like they’re always getting ready for a funeral or talking about expired 401-K plans. Not in Hawkeye, where Clint often screws up and Kate is there to clean it up. Of course, the relationship isn’t always one-sided, but Kate definitely has herself together a lot more than Clint, even though he’s far older than Kate.
This is a comic book. This is one of the more polished, meaningful examples of good comics I’ve read in a while. Matt Fraction has a complete understanding of his intentions and how he wants to write Hawkeye. This is a Marvel ongoing series that doesn’t feature alien invasions, mutant menaces, evil masterminds, or brainwashed superheroes – this is a series about life’s real problems being dealt with in way less based in reality. Acid-tipped arrows? We’re not supposed to believe it’s real, just that it could be, and that’s awesome.