This series of Hawkeye, written by Matt Fraction and art by David Aja and Matt Hollingsworth, probably means the most to me out of any series. It was a 22 issue series that took its sweet time getting released to the public, but it was well worth the wait. I mean, who knew I could care about some dude without powers who just shoots arrows at things and then goes home to some crappy apartment in Bed Stuy? I was already a fan of Kate Bishop from reading Young Avengers, another series that’s very near and dear to me, so what the hell, right? Let’s read about the two Hawkeyes doing their own thing away from the Avengers.
Oh, man. Little did I know that when I started reading this, it would literally change my life. I became a certified fan starving for more Clint Barton everywhere. I mean, seriously. I fell in love with the way Matt Fraction portrayed him. I couldn’t get over this sarcastic asshole character who beats up people and steals their dog, watches cartoons and is way out of date in the technology department, who falls asleep everywhere, and drinks coffee straight from the pot. I mean, really. I fell hard and fast for his character, which spawned a whole big thing where I collected any and all comics Clint had been in previously. And then I was the first person to freak out any time Clint had a sliver of a line or his face appeared in any preview for an upcoming Avengers movies (because let’s face it–no one else really knows who he is. I gotta be his cheerleader and spread the love. I had like a four hour conversation about Clint being a farmer. Not even kidding you.) I read up extensively on his backstory and his struggles and started to feel insanely protective of his character and his disability, which kept appearing and disappearing in comics over the years.
This series made me fall in love with superheroes and comics again. Not just Hawkeye, but all comics. I used to read them a lot when I was in middle school and high school and then I just stopped in favour of watching the movies. And then…superheroes got popular and I resisted, not wanting people to think I was jumping on the bandwagon because everyone else was. And then these comics changed my mind. I now have a box at my comic book store and I read them online from all different publishers and have a list of my favourite series and comic book characters and writers and artists and I can distinguish all of their works fairly quickly and it’s just a mess because I LOVE SUPERHEROES. Clint Barton made me fall in love with the complexity and the magic of it all. And this series is to blame, so I guess I have to thank Matt Fraction, too.
But let’s get into it, starting with the things I really loved that this comic series did:
- It made Clint and Kate friends. JUST friends. There was no romantic tension, no crushing on anyone, no casual sex, anything like that. They were friends, partners, and nothing more. When recruiting Kate to work with him, I absolutely loved those panels when they were on the phone and Kate was asking him why and Clint was all like “because I don’t want to sleep with you!” and she was all like “good because you’re old enough to know how creepy that would be” and everything was rainbows and sunshine. I was constantly scared of the writers being pressured into them entering a sexual relationship because of shipping by fans, but thankfully Matt Fraction reassured us all that “The dog won’t die and Clint and Kate won’t fuck”, and I was happy to see those words abided by. Thanks, Matt, for your eloquent words and for keeping it real for fans like me who agree that it’s CREEPY. How old is Clint now, anyway? Do people ever age in comic books? No? Just going to ignore he’s probably been in his 40s since the 60s?
- So many fresh different things added to the comics that haven’t really been done before that added a new element to the story. I mean, a whole issue dedicated to Lucky, Clint’s dog, where we only saw things from his point of view? I was sitting there laughing in delight the entire time because that’s so genius and it’s not something you see every day. The dog is one of my favourite characters, silly little Pizza Dog, and so seeing his part and putting together what he knows and what we’ve seen in previous issues together was really exciting. Let’s also not forget that this issue won an Eisner award for its creativity. A dog solves a crime and wins a comic book award for it. Isn’t that amazing?
- Also, bringing back Deaf!Clint was kind of like a godsend to me. How often do we see disabled superheroes? We’ve got Oracle down at DC. We have blind Matt Murdock. Dr. Mid-Nite at DC is also blind. Professor X is paralysed and in a wheelchair. The only other deaf superhero that comes to mind is Echo, Maya Lopez, who’s not very well known. So to have one of the bigger names as a deaf character is great for younger kids going through something similar, for them to look up to, and see that they can be awesome and do things too, that they don’t have to let their disability define them. It was so heartwarming and great to see the sign language throughout some of the issues: characters signing to Clint, Clint signing back. And also, Clint’s purple hearing aids are freaking awesome. Just saying. It just felt really great that one of Clint’s disabilities, previously erased, was back in continuity and a story was really being shaped around a superhero learning to live with it and still kick ass.
- Kate’s many adventures in LA. I really loved that there were multiple issues just dedicated to Kate and her private investigations there in sunny California. (Sidenote: what’s up with so many superheroes being detectives or PIs? I get investigative creativity goes hand in hand with finding a villain’s subplot and shit, but I think it’s hilarious a lot of their day work revolves around this.) I loved her struggles and successes: battling against Madame Masque, strange guys in cat food aisles, the awesome older gay couple that begin to treat her like family…it was all so good to see Kate get away and try to discover things on her own and be her own person. Getting to see this detailed was really amazing, given that I’m roughly the same age as Kate.
- Clint’s complicated family history! I was sooooo happy to see Barney back and the brother struggles! Clint’s relationship with Barney has always been a fascination for me and I love to see how things are going to play out with them. I liked that this complicated storyline was developed and employed, because I love to see humanising elements to my superheroes, and what better way to make sure you know Clint is human by giving him an ex-con, ex-carney brother to butt heads with? It made those last few issues wonderful, seeing them fight and make up, wondering if there was going to be a betrayal or if they were finally going to have a decent relationship with each other.
Now for some things I didn’t like:
- It took freaking FOREVER to get the series finished. Like, seriously. The last three or so issues kept being pushed back and pushed back and there wasn’t a new issue for like, six months. Not even kidding you. I don’t know what took so long. Creative differences? I don’t know, but I was anxious to see what happened and it was getting really frustrating not knowing where my characters ended up. Especially since Jeff Lemire and Ramon Perez took over to write All New Hawkeye. Three issues of the new series were out before we got to read Hawkeye #22. We were reading an entirely new series without knowing the ending of the other series, which made it confusing because we didn’t know how anything ended! It was super awkward and I almost didn’t want to read the new series because Matt Fraction’s series wasn’t over yet. I just wanted it to be over with at that point. The wait was ridiculous.
- We never really got an answer to that ending, not completely. I mean, we sort of got a backstory to why Kate doesn’t like her father in All New Hawkeye, and the issue was further discussed in the newest Hawkeye series, but it didn’t explain anything in this comic. I hate end of series cliffhangers. Kate found out something about her dad and called him up saying that she knew and he wanted to kill her and it was all super interesting and I wanted to know right away what was going on and then–nothing. I shouldn’t have had to wait until the 2017-2018 series to find out the answers from a 2012-2015 series.