HAWKEYE VOL.1: MY LIFE AS A WEAPON
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artists: David Aja (Issues 1-3), Javier Pulido (Issues 4-5)
Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth
Letter: Chris Eliopoulos
Rating: 9/10 Arrows
I have been intrigued by Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye for a while. However, it was never enough for me to actually order it from my LCS. It wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago I read Marsden’s (IG: @thatcomicgirlll) piece about Hawkeye recommended reading (she also made a youtube video about it, link here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_wOF7-ov4o&t=202s).
I am a giant fool for not reading this book earlier. I feel like I always have this preconceived notion that Marvel books have very simplistic approaches to the superhero genre. However, Fraction flips that idea on his head and instead tells his story by showcasing Clint Barton’s life separate from his affiliation with the Avengers. Fraction depicts Hawkeye as this down on his luck, simple man. The consistent motif of, “This looks bad.” within this first trade encapsulates that notion well. Clint isn’t the smartest guy and if he isn’t looking for trouble, he will, sure enough, have a bad enough idea that trouble finds him.
My favorite issue that Matt wrote was #3, where Barton’s bad ideas mixed with his terrible luck are full frontal. He goes out to the store to buy tape to label his arrows. But it’s Clint so, of course, he finds a beautiful gal with the car of his dreams. For mysterious, unknown reasons she is willing to sell it to him right then and there. Clint is ready to party with her. Fraction utilizes back and forth storytelling to showcase how one poor decision leads to another. All of a sudden, Hawkeye is shooting arrows out of a red 1970 Dodge Challenger. Kate Bishop has her hands behind the wheel, and this mystery girl is handcuffed in the backseat. We flash to the past, where we see Clint and this girl have slept together. While they're putting their clothes back on, the door is kicked in by Russian mobsters. Then, we witness a hilarious fight where Clint is naked trying to tackle them head-on and explains to us how they got into the Challenger in the present. It's amusing to see his impulsiveness and how his actions ricochet into these dramatic sequences of fighting crime. Who knew that finding a girl with the car of your dreams would lead to a shootout between yourself and Russian Goons in New York City? But for some reason, that's just how Clint's life is. Fraction, somehow, can mix slice-of-life drama with crime-fighting in a witty and funny way. Another issue that takes the cake is the one where Clint adopts a dog. It’s very cute. It made me very emotional. You just have to read it. I was blinded by it and you should be too.
The first three issues are illustrated by David Aja. Aja's art makes this Hawkeye book feel like an indie read. His style is simplistic. It's got bold silhouettes. He utilizes non-defined features in people's faces, clothing, and scenery. Most of the backgrounds have minimal detail, which allows colorist, Matt Hollingsworth, to showcase beautiful and thematic color schemes. Aja elevates his style by being able to capture facial expressions well. It is strong during a conversation Clint has with Kate Bishop. They are talking on the phone, and it is clear that these two characters have baggage. You can see Clint be unsure of what he wants to say to her. He feels bad, and it invokes sadness. Kate can be seen worrying because she just wants him to treat her like an adult. Clint's trying to protect her. Not only is Fractions writing impeccable in this section, but also, the art helps you feel the tension in the static air.
This trade is short. Besides what I wrote about, there are four other one-off stories per issue. All of them feature incredible characterization that helps you fall in love with dumb Clint Barton. You get the sense that in the next book, there will be more Kate Bishop. My only gripe with this book is the lack of background of Kate and Clint's relationship. However, I will attribute that to me just not having any prior knowledge. Fraction and Aja worked magic on this. I can't believe I'm at this point but, Marvel books are phenomenal and My Life as a Weapon is proof of it.