Robot 6

Ambitious ‘Hawkeye #19′ broadens horizons with fulfilling story


[Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]

I think by now we can all agree that diversity in comics is a great thing. Not only does it welcome in people who might feel ostracized by convention and provide a positive reflection of themselves in the pages of a comic, but it teaches readers and challenges us to go beyond comfort zones and understand the world around us.

When Hawkeye suddenly shifts into sign language after losing his hearing in a particularly brutal fight, I wasn’t sure if that was how that worked. He could speak before, he knew how, why would he need sign language. This caused me to go and look into sign language and consider how people speak to one another using sounds and suddenly I’m a much broader person! I hadn’t considered how much we need to hear to be able to speak and how difficult it would be to communicate. I looked into sign language and learned a little about the culture around it.

Hawkeye #19 is not an easy book to read, especially if you’re not familiar with sign language, but it’s a great book to study. The artwork forces you into another mindset and if you go with it, there are a lot of powerful images staged around a language a lot of people don’t know. This issue was entirely worth the delay and continues the amazing work both Matt Fraction and David Aja have done with Hawkeye. As I always tell people at the store, you don’t have to be reading Hawkeye to pick up any issue and get a fulfilling story and #19 is no exception.




“He could speak before, he knew how, why would he need sign language.”

IIRC, during Clint’s 1980s miniseries, he suffered a severe hearing loss in one ear. I imagine he learned sign language as a result of that.

It was a cool idea and neat art but, come on, the story was awful. Just like the final issues of Young Avengers, reviewers are reviewing style over substance. Yes it’s fine for diversity and ambition (although, yeah, there’s something a LITTLE off with praising that comics are reaching out to deaf audiences, when it’s an entirely visual driven medium that’s NEVER been inaccessible to them) but the story itself is not very good. I applaud the outreach and commitment to the art and innovation but to pretend this is being praised for anything other than that, ie the actual script, is laughable. If this was a standard issue with minimal dialogue or regular dialogue, it wouldn’t even rate. Marvel did a month’s worth of silent issues; Batman just did two of them and no one blinked.

I quite enjoyed the story. It’s a classic “lowest point” chapter, and the relationship between Clint and Barney was portrayed wonderfully.

Drew Melbourne

August 4, 2014 at 7:04 am

@cjbaserap Is your argument that (a) it’s not as good as previous issues of Hawkeye or (b) that you don’t like Hawkeye very much? Because, as a regular Hawkeye reader, I don’t find (a) to be the case. Perhaps you just don’t like the series?

cjbaserap has an argument one could probably extrapolate to reflect this entire run of Hawkeye. In a number of issues, the visual aesthetic is cleverer than the narrative — oftentimes to the point where, even if you’re reading the book issue-to-issue, you have a difficult time understanding what’s going on because it’s way too fragmented.

I really liked some issues of this book. But there were others that seriously, seriously wandered. And yet others that were a real waste . . . like that dream-sequence Christmas issue. Complete waste.

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