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Chain Reactions | Hawkeye #1

Hawkeye #1

The timing couldn’t be better for Marvel’s new Hawkeye book, which came out this past weekend. For one thing, there’s that big blockbuster Avengers movie that came out earlier this year, where the character got some big-screen time thanks to actor Jeremy Renner. For another, Marvel was able to line up Matt Fraction, David Aja and Matt Hollingsworth, who worked together on a phenomenal Iron Fist run a few years back, to show us what Clint Barton does when he isn’t Avengin’, Secret Avengin’ or teaching at the Avengin’ Academy.

I was sold by the creative team alone, but if you’re still on the fence about the first issue, here are a few reviews from the web to help you along.

Alex Evans, Weekly Comic Book Review: “Hawkeye #1 is one of those rare first issues where you know that you’re seeing the start of something very special. Much like Daredevil #1, there’s a perfect unity between writer and artist and, more than that, a fresh, unique take on an old, well-worn character. I will go even so far as saying that much like Fraction’s Iron Man, Hawkeye #1 feels like the start of what will be the definitive take on the character for years to come.” (Grade: A)

Chris Sims, ComicsAlliance: The concept of ‘Hawkeye on his days off’ that’s laid out in the title page fits this book like a glove, and it’s a pretty interesting choice. After those first few pages where he gets knocked out of a building, Clint doesn’t wear his costume and nobody refers to him as ‘Hawkeye.’ Instead, he’s just Clint Barton in a suit — an actual suit with a shirt and tie, not the purple leather that makes him look like Prince’s racquetball partner — dealing with things on a relatively low-key level. Rather than, say, the Loki level that he has to deal with at his day job.

Jacob Dodd, Comics Con Queso: “With Hawkeye, Fraction seems to get back to the nitty gritty. We get maybe a page and a half of Barton in costume and the rest of the issue follows his exploits while he’s not on duty. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t a hero story. It isn’t about him going to pick up milk or wash his car. Instead we get a closer look at how Barton views himself; in the context of his role as an Avenger, in the shadow of Captain America, and as a simple man without powers standing next to men who can shatter planets. Fraction utilizes the first issue to tell a stand-alone story that explains why Barton does the things he does and where his moral code comes from. And Fraction tells us more about Barton through the way he treats a simple dog than most writers do with an entire series worth of heroic exploits. I know some might say its a cheap trick to play the wounded animal card, but Fraction nails it and nobody can really deny how effective the issue is.”

Mathias Lewis, Speak Geeky to Me: “The creative side of Hawkeye #1 seems to be a coin of two sides, with the creators doing both good and bad work in this issue. Fraction’s plot is somewhat dull and his dialogue at moments pains me to read. He tried to keep a sense of humor throughout the issue, with some jokes coming off simply hilarious, while other bits are slightly cheap and less enjoyable. In an attempt to emphasize accents, much of Fraction’s dialogue for the New York based characters is written out phonetically as he’d want you to hear it, similar to how Chris Claremont used to do Uncanny X-Men. While that worked fine with characters like Rogue and Gambit in the 80’s, it just comes off as odd in this comic. However, in the same script Fraction has some amazing scene transitions between two separate time lines of the same day for Hawkeye. This use of comic panel mirroring for transition is the type of thing that would make fans of Watchmen #5 go crazy, as it is subtle yet brilliant. That said, some of this credit must go to David Aja as well.” (5/10)

Don MacPherson, Eye on Comics: “What does work, of course, is Aja’s interior artwork. His efforts here remind me a great deal of the style of Michael Lark, especially the illustrations be brought to the deservedly acclaimed Gotham Central from DC Comics a few years ago. Aja crafts a gritty, semi-realistic backdrop on which Hawkeye’s regular-guy story can unfold, and he manages to do so with a collection of relatively simple, understated lines. He makes every bit of ink count. Despite the ugly things that happen to and around the main character, the artist manages to instill a certain kind of softness in his face. Clearly aware of the suddenly wider, mainstream awareness of the title character, the opening splash page seems like it’s purposefully reminiscent of actor Jeremy Renner’s big moment from the climactic battle scene in the Avengers movie. Honestly, I didn’t care for the synergy all that much (though I wasn’t particularly put off either); everything else about this comic book is about allowing this character stand on its own, separate from the expectations created by the big-screen treatment.” (8/10)

Kelly Thompson, Comic Book Resources: “Matt Hollingsworth colors are also a perfect tonal match for this book and an exceptional complement to Aja’s art. His color palette shifts effortlessly and expressively from bathed in yellow day scenes to blue toned evenings, the sickly green of an underground casino and the darker, deeper blues of a rainy night. It’s gorgeous subtle coloring work that easily adds as much emotion to the book as the writing or art.” (4.5/5)

Darryl Ayo Brathwaite, Comix Cube: “At long last, I get to talk about something dear to my heart: endings. Matt Fraction has given us a debut story, a pilot episode essentially, which does everything that a pilot needs to do. It establishes the scope of the world in which this series is set. The Marvel universe streets. Low-level stakes, high emotional connection to those stakes. This debut issue gives us a problem and then solves it outright. That provides the reader with a blueprint for how future stories might play out. I like that Fraction is confident enough as a storyteller to not need to rely on cliffhangers in a series like this.”

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6 Comments

Has Chris Sims ever given Matt Fraction a negative review?

No, it’s a case of a critic being friends with the author of the work they are supposed to review

It’s been awhile since I’ve read a Matt Fraction book. He’s off to a great start with Hawkeye. Not since his early Invincible Iron Man run, Casanova, Immortal Iron Fist have I been excited for a Fraction series.

^^2012 has actually been a pretty improved year for Fraction

Hawkeye is great, Defenders has gotten a lot better after the first arc (which was pretty weak), and Invincible Iron Man has just about returned to top form once all the Fear Itself stuff was done with.

Hell, even the most recent arc of Mighty Thor held together pretty well.

Does anyone else find it funny that the most acclaimed new book Marvel has released in ages, the one universally praised book they’ve put out since the debut of Waid’s Daredevil, looks like and is scripted exactly like an indie book that is utterly disconnected from the rest of Marvel’s line? The aesthetic and tone of this comic and the general approach the creators seem to be taking make it more like an Image comic that just happens to have a Marvel character in it than a Marvel comic. And everyone loves it!

What does it tell you about present day Marvel that the best thing their creators can do is break away from the house style and do a book more akin to Rucka and Southworth’s Stumptown? What does it tell you about present day Marvel that the healthiest thing for one of their books is to completely ignore the standard-bearer superhero aesthetic, even going so far as to divorce itself from the much-ballyhooed Whedon movie, and instead give us a story about PEOPLE, less “super” and more “hero”? The Diamond/DC/Marvel consortium is so insistent that all anybody wants is four-colored bullshit but as soon as it’s time to separate the wheat from the chaff, the exact opposite seems to be true.

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