First Impressions: Hawkeye
By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder
Because of the Avengers movie, more eyes are on Hawkeye now than at any time in the character’s nearly 50 year history. Frankly, I’m surprised the character is only getting a new ongoing series now, what with all the hype surrounding the film. Nevertheless, Matt Fraction and David Aja deliver a first issue well worth the wait.
In this issue, Fraction and Aja firmly establish Hawkeye, or more specifically Clint Barton, as the Avenger with his feet on the ground. We only see him in costume for a page and a half. The rest of the issue is about Clint trying to keep the landlord of his apartment building from kicking his neighbor out. As these things often go in superhero stories, the landlord is involved in shady doings, and Clint has to step in and handle it. At the end of the day, what we end up with is a nice little snapshot of who Clint is. He’s a good person, but he’s not afraid to do bad things if he has to.
I liked this issue a lot. But one thing sticks out to me as being just a little too convenient from a storytelling perspective: Hawkeye has been an Avenger for years, and he’s the leader of the Secret Avengers. Why would a man with Clint’s talents and resources still be living in a crappy apartment? A desire to maintain his connection to the general public? Laziness about selling his old place? Does he just not want to cough up the cash for his own place? What’s he still doing there? We get a line about how nobody in this area seems to recognize him, despite his public identity, but I’m not sure I buy that. A solid explanation would have been nice.
So often, animals are used as the personification of innocence. This issue uses that tool to perfection in Clint’s scenes with the dog. One of the landlord’s henchmen has a dog that gets injured in a fight with Clint. Horrified, he takes the dog to an animal hospital and demands that they work on it. I suppose cynics could look at this and say: “Oh c’mon! It’s just a dog!” But I think it works really well to establish Clint as someone who, with or without super powers, is always willing to go above and beyond his moral duty to help those in need. Plus, as most of us love animals, it creates a nice connection between the hero and the readers.
David Aja is a perfect fit for a ground level Hawkeye book set in New York City. What he turns in here isn’t flashy or fancy, but it’s not supposed to be. More than anything else, Aja’s art sets just the right tone and atmosphere for this book. It’s fantastic work.
Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye was unquestionably one of the breakout stars of The Avengers. With any luck, focusing more on the man than the Avenger will push Hawkeye toward the top of readers’ comic stacks on a weekly basis.
Front page image from marvel.com. Interior image from comicbookmovie.com.