ADVANCE REVIEW: Hawkeye #1

Hawkeye #1

Story by Matt Fraction
Art by David Aja
Colors by Matt Hollingsworth
Letters by Chris Eliolpoulos
Cover by David Aja & Matt Hollingsworth

$2.99 / 32 pages / Color

Published by Marvel Comics

The reviewer is supposed to be fair and objective. The reviewer is supposed to take something in, without prejudice, and weigh the thing’s various merits and weaknesses, making an assessment that will be useful to other enthusiasts. The reviewer shouldn’t be overly harsh, and should certainly mete out praise with some perspective in mind. It is with all these things in mind that I approached this new version of Hawkeye by Matt Fraction and David Aja. Having been rebooted not too long ago by Jim McCann, we’re already re-rebooting, as will happen. And here’s with the difficulty lies with me, and I’m going to lay this on the table, so everyone knows where I’m coming from. Hawkeye, or Clint Barton, is one of my favorite long time characters in comics. Matt Fraction is not one of my favorite writers. I’ve enjoyed some of his work here and there, but largely, it does not scratch my itch. David Aja is an unqualified genius, and any comic he’s laid pencil to, is a better comic than one which he has not. I also think that Hawkeye is a character who, time and again, has proven that he cannot sustain a solo series, where he thrives in a group situation, or an ensemble book. But rules are made to be broken, and this is the very job of creative artists. So let’s move on.

I really liked this issue. In fact, it’s exactly the kind of take I always imaged I would use if I ever had the opportunity. The issue, a one shot introduction chapter, focuses much more on Clint Barton than it does the guy in purple. He’s living in Bed-Stuy (an area slowly undergoing unstoppable Brooklyn gentrification), and his fellow building tenants are being hassled by aggressive and opportunistic landlords, which Clint Barton, hero of the people, bespectacled Robin Hood, does not like, and tries to stop. This street level story takes place in specific contrast to his reputation as an Avenger, and plays into the overall theme they’re setting up, which is about Barton as the Avenger with no powers. He’s just a regular guy trying to make his way in a world that should be way over his head. He tries to buy off the landlord, gets into a big fight, and then saves a dog, because that’s what good guys do, especially when they have hearts that are bigger than their brains and don’t know how to back down. That’s who this Hawkeye is, and I think it’s the right kind of Hawkeye. It’s certainly not the movie version, which is a great kindness, regardless of his outfit.

From a visual standpoint, this book is gorgeous, and if I had to pick a reason to show up, it would be David Aja. For some reason, the man is a savant who can pack more panels on a page than anyone should be allowed, and yet it still doesn’t feel cluttered. I get the feeling that, like Iron Fist before, Aja brings out the best of Matt Fraction, because these two really seem to compliment each other. I don’t have a single complaint about the art, to be honest. Aja works with an amazing economy of line, but he manages to shape the characters in such a way that their expression and posture always gives you an incredible clear idea of what they’re feeling and who they are before they utter a word of dialog. There’s a silent record scratch moment where Clint enters an underground gambling casino, and everyone in the room is surprised. While there are words in the panel, there’s no need for them. Overall the beats of this issue are consistently strong because the artist and writer are working well together to make them happen, using visuals and text. Aja not only met, but exceeded my expectations, and the fact that he’s not considered a superstar of the industry is an ongoing tragedy.

I really only have one minor grouse with the issue as a whole. The “villains” are tracksuited, Russian thugs. That’s what they look like in real life, and I agree that they also say “bro” a lot. But in this issue, they say “bro” a lot. They say “bro” too much. It was overdone, and it had the effect relying on a thin one dimensional cultural stereotype in place of building a character in reality. It also annoyed me. He really said “bro” an awful lot.

Making this a one shot issue was exactly the right thing. I got halfway through, and thought, I don’t want this to continue. I want this to be one great issue, all on its own, and they actually listened to that instinct on their side as well. There was no cliffhanger at the end. The impetus for coming back to for the next issue is built on the fact that this one was good, rather than the idea that they’re going to force us to fill in a blank about who was on the last page. It was a great decision, and made for a stand alone issue. I hope this version of Hawkeye has a great and lengthy run, and continues to defy and exceed expectations. Hawkeye #1 strikes exactly the right tone, and is simply gorgeous to behold.

Story: 4 / Art: 5 / Overall: 4.5

(Out of 5 Stars)

Comments

  1. Paul Montgomery Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    What Josh said.

  2. lifesend lifesend says:

    I don’t really like Fraction or Hawkeye, yet I’m considering getting this just for the Aja art. That’s how good Aja is, in my eyes at least.

  3. filippod filippod (@filippodee) says:

    Josh. Were it your turn for pick of the week, would this had any chance?

  4. Neb Neb says:

    I’m excited to get any sort of Aja art. Glad to hear that the story isn’t half bad either. Also, how amazing is that cover?

  5. filippod filippod (@filippodee) says:

    And again a small scale, peripheral, 2.99 title is better than most 3.99 core titles.

    I love the art. I really don’t like realistically drawn comics, they kill my imagination. This is mighty suggestive art.

  6. Hawkeye’s always been a z-list character who really never interested me. This creative team however has me excited to see what they’ll do after seeing the quality of their work on Iron Fist a few years back. They elevated his character to a much better spot so hopefully they’ll do the same for Hawkeye.

  7. Doughboy says:

    Hawkeye is a character that I can take or leave. I don’t hate him, but he’s not one of my favorites. Iron Fist, I never cared about… until Fraction and Aja’s Iron Fist. I loved the backstory they created, especially the WW1 era Iron Fist, Orson Randall. What a fantastic character!

    For whatever reason, Fraction’s other work has not captured my imagination. But because of what they did with Iron Fist, I’m 100% buying their take on Hawkeye.

    • Grandturk says:

      Hawkeye – to me – was a Z lister. I knew who he was. I had no clue anyone actually liked Hawkeye until I started listening to podcasts way back. I mean really? People like Hawkeye?

      Anyway… Love Fraction and Aja, but Hawkeye ranks so low with me that I didn’t pick this up. I mean – Fraction alone on Iron Man and Defenders got me to buy there. But throw Hawkeye in and its like – instant flaccidity.

      I don;t know – still time to grab this tomorrow and see. It is Aja. And I haven’t had any Aja in a long time.

  8. Firevine Firevine says:

    Well that’s a surprisingly good review. I was hoping for Iron Fist, but was expecting Fear Itself. Good to know we got Iron Fist.

  9. Grandturk says:

    I say “bro” a lot.

  10. karatechop16 karatechop16 says:

    Can’t wait to pick this up, bro.

  11. thefig24 says:

    No mention of Kate Bishop? I thought she was going to be in this title. As much as I like Clint, it was Kate Bishop that was really selling me on this.

  12. Neeks Neeks says:

    Awesome! Im soooooo glad to hear you enjoyed this Josh hopefully this ends up being a nice little solo title that is able to do its own thing outside of the main marvel universe storys.

  13. lepineisme lepineisme says:

    trying to drop all my big two titles, but this is too promising. And with Josh’s sort of thumbs up I’ll have to pick it up.

  14. Limitless Limitless says:

    Wait, Aja isn’t considered a superstar? He’s like…one of my favorite artist, behind only Samnee, and maybe not even him…

    People today, I swear.

    Also, when I was checking out a Previews my LCS gave me and saw this was coming out, I damn near lost my mind. I can’t wait.

  15. r3v r3v says:

    I was looking forward to it, but a bit worried. My fears have been assuaged a bit, with this review.

  16. sitara119 sitara119 says:

    does anyone else have the urge to go shopping at Target?

  17. TomO TomO says:

    This could possibly be my first Marvel book since I quit Marvel with the end of the Hawkeye & Mockingbird series.

    Fraction earned a lot of good will with Casanova, only to never see anything materialize that was half as good over at Marvel. Josh’s review just might be enough to get me to dip my toe back in again.

    (I still dislike the cover and logo however, but I suppose it’s the story inside that counts)

  18. mickmac59 mickmac59 says:

    I’d pretty much decided not to get this (budget issues) but now I’m wavering. Damn you, Flanagan! *shakes fist at sky in impotent rage*

  19. Smasher says:

    Thanks for the review.
    This is an on-going, right?

  20. CGPO CGPO says:

    I wonder if this series will be more single issue stories? I looked at the marvel.com solicitations for it, and the descriptions are trying to be hip and witty, so they don’t tell much, but I kind of get the impression they are. It would be nice to see more single or short story arcs coming out of Marvel with the success of Daredevil.

  21. flapjaxx flapjaxx says:

    Glad to hear this issue gets a passing grade.

    A few years ago it seemed (to me and many others) that Fraction was on the cusp of becoming an elite quality writer. And he’s certainly gotten high-profile gigs since then, but they’ve all underwhelmed me.

    I used to put up with his Uncanny X-Men run for a while because I thought, “Hey, it’s Matt Fraction. He’s the guy who wrote Casanova. Yeah his mainstream stuff isn’t that great so far, but he’ll figure it out eventually and produce greatness.” But the mainstream greatness just never happened as far as I was concerned. And even when he returned to Casanova recently, it felt like the series was a far, far, far cry from the greatness and true innovation that it used to have. Not “bad” but nowhere near as good as the promise of greatness that Fraction seemed to emit 5-6 years ago.

    I’ve never read his Iron Fist and this new Hawkeye series is being compared to that. So, I’m glad that even a Fraction skeptic like Josh enjoyed this issue. I want, again, to read Fraction comics that aren’t underwhelming.

  22. BabyFranklin BabyFranklin says:

    I can’t help but think that this is going to be a 12 issue maxi series like the last Moon Knight series.
    Whatever, because I’ll get it anyways.

  23. tomistommy tomistommy says:

    Really looking forward to picking this up tomorrow. Honestly, I don’t understand all the hate that Fraction gets, except for Fear Itself, that one’s totally understandable. I’ve been reading Iron Man consistently since Stark Disassembled and it’s always been good, so I have faith in the man. He’s kind of like the Marvel version of Judd Winnick. You either like him, or hate him, I guess.

  24. Conor Kilpatrick Conor Kilpatrick (@cskilpatrick) says:

    Clint doesn’t need all that crap on his bow to hit his target!

  25. k5blazer k5blazer says:

    I enjoyed it, I’m not an art expert by any means but i see a lot of similarity with Chris Samnee. I thought the coin trick was more Bullseye than Hawkeye, but I did enjoy it.

  26. scottdfane scottdfane says:

    When I saw that Fraction put out a Hawkeye book, I thought…I have to look at this. I really love following Fraction on twitter, but his writing often falls short. Josh agrees. When I saw that Josh reviewed this book, I thought….I have to read this. I think that this review is as good, if not better than I have read from Ifanboy. I thought that the dog was an awesome part and regretted that the parallels between Clint and the dog were not celebrated more. Great issue, great review.

  27. gambit21 says:

    I agree with BabyFranlin, this was an interesting “one shot” story but it didn’t really amount to anything. He is never in costume and never uses his skill, bow and arrow. For a new series it has a definate mini series feel to it. Most new series have a jumping off point like something happening to the character and its further explored but this seems pointless. I will say that I think Gambit, which comes out next week, will be a better and more important series, and in the end longer lasting. James Asmus has me hooked and excited from the interviews i’ve seen. I think Marvel would rather Hawkeye do better though so it can promote the character to eventually get his own solo movie.Thats why they are promoting it more.

  28. jman4201 says:

    Really? The art gets a 5? hmmmm….I’ll admit I’m not into the indie look. I’m not into books that look like they were drawn back…well back when I got into comics. I like big drawings….Turner, Quesada, Silvestri (sp?) just to name a few. In fact I was gonna buy this one cuz I’m a pretty big Hawkeye fan (I still have the Hawkeye & Mockingbird mini-series from back in the day) but the art totally and completely put me off of it. Fraction is a pretty good writer but with art like that I just can’t get into it. Crucify me if you will for not being open minded and what not but what can I say. I’m glad you all enjoyed it though. ;-)