(p) Javier Pulido
After three extraordinary issues, Matt Fraction missteps a bit with Hawkeye #4. The purposeful flow and nuanced dialogue that’s defined the series thus far is sadly in short supply, instead replaced with a lot of internal monologue from Clint Barton. This perspective is hard to pull off in general, but Fraction manages to temper Clint’s thoughts with deliberate and fast-paced storytelling that gets our cast of characters into quite a predicament.
The eponymous item from “The Tape” has gone missing from S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, and it’s contents will spell disaster for Hawkeye, S.H.I.E.L.D. and by proxy the U.S. government, as well as the President. It’s an amazing set-up that sees Clint tasked to the island of Madripoor to bid for the tape in an auction against a slew of villains intent on procuring and exploiting it for their own gains. Unfortunately, most of Clint’s journey to a proverbial Babel proves interesting only from arms-length. Internal monologue is supposed to make readers feel more connected to the character thinking, but in this issue, it almost has the opposite effect — it removes the reader from what’s going on. Mostly, it’s due to Fraction’s narrative flow that takes Clint from one place to another in the span of a panel or two, so his thoughts feel disjointed and lacking in purpose. Like I mentioned earlier, I enjoyed the overall plot and structural elements of the issue, but Clint’s thoughts sometimes overshadowed the narrative, and that’s when this issue was at it’s weakest.
The final pages of Hawkeye #4 include some epic foreshadowing to next month’s conclusion of “The Tape”, including the contents of the tape, those bidding for it in Madripoor, and a scheme to secure the information no matter what. It’s thrilling. It’s action-packed. It’s Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye, and you should be reading it. Even if this issue was a bit weaker than the others.