Pick of the Week

Pick of the Week – 12.19.2012 – Hawkeye #6

What did the
iFanboy
community think?

923
Pulls
Avg Rating: 4.7
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 28.4%
 
Users who pulled this comic:
Hawkeye_6
Story by Matt Fraction
Art by David Aja
Colors by Matt Hollingsworth
Cover by David Aja

Size: 32 pages
Price: 2.99

Hawkeye makes me happy.

SIX REASONS IT

MAKES ME HAPPY

Life is Hard… Might as Well Laugh

There are a lot of very serious comic books out there on the stands these days. Many of them are excellent. Some of them even came out this week. Hawkeye has become a nice counter point to those comics. I like super serious superhero adventures as much as the next jamoke, but it’s nice to have a little sugar with your salt. A little cleanser for your palette. Sometimes you need to laugh and have some fun and not take everything so life-and-death seriously.

Like a Former Conman/Carnie, it Breaks the Rules

There are a lot of “rules” to making comics. You can only use so many panels per page. You should write out all the dialogue. Your superhero protagonist should wear his costume. Those are just three of the comic book “rules” that Hawkeye blithely ignores. The first page of Hawkeye #6 has 21 panels. My non-scientific (read: I didn’t actually do the math) study of this issue says that it averages over 10 panels per page, many of the pages push 20. That’s not “how things are done” in comics. It’s supposed to make the book feel bloated and the reader claustrophobic. On the contrary, Hawkeye #6 feels breezy and light. Additionally, some might say that if you’re writing a comic book you should include the dialogue and not just leave it to the reader to infer what’s being said. That might be true of most books and most writers, but in Hawkeye do you really need to know what the little kid is actually saying? Do you really need selections from the crowd noise at a rooftop party? (In Brooklyn in December? Yikes.) Finally, in the traditional sense, superheroes wear costumes. Not so in this series. If you add up all the panels in the first six issues in which Hawkeye is wearing his stupid movie costume the number would probably be less than 15, 10 of which are in this issue—and those are just on two pages. Why? Hawkeye seems to be all about showing that Clint Barton doesn’t need the suit to be Hawkeye. He just is Hawkeye, for better and for worse, all the time.

Clint Barton

The Clint Barton currently found in the pages of Hawkeye is a Clint Barton that I could party with every month. He’s just a normal guy who is a little funny, a little rough around the edges, and a little prone to screwing up and making the wrong choices. Steve Rogers is an aspirational character because I am not as good of a man as he is but I strive to be. Clint Barton is a relatable character because his personal struggles have resonance with my own. He is a world-weary everyman who is constantly in over his head and who is constantly getting knocked down by life (and by gangs of thugs wielding Louisville Sluggers). But he always stands back up and he always tries to do the right thing because while Clint might not be invincible and he might not be infallible, he’s a hero through and through.

David Aja & Matt Hollingsworth & Chris Eliopoulos

The art team of Aja, Hollingsworth and Eliopoulos are putting on a goddamned superhero comic book clinic. It’s everything from the art style to the design aesthetic of the book that make Hawkeye a special book. There is a lot of great art in a lot of great comic books right now but no other book looks quite as good, top-to-bottom, as Hawkeye. The covers aren’t the only thing about this book that have a singular, design-intensive look to them. Everything from the way that the chapter and issue titles are written, to the way the panels are laid out on the page, to the purple color scheme, has a purpose and gives the book a look and feel that is unlike anything else on the shelves. All of that would be enough but then you add the fact that David Aja is one of the best and most dynamic artists working in comics today. He’s an artist whose characters emote convincingly and look and (more importantly) dress like they exist in our world, which is no small thing in comics. He has a sparse style but nevertheless packs his panels with loads of specific details that really help to set the mood and the surroundings and go a long way to building a convincing world for these characters to live in.

The Retro-Modern Vibe

Everything about Hawkeye feels like a throwback to another era. The tone is a combination of gritty and goofy  that recalls the comic books of the 1960s and 70s without being overly precious and while remaining thoroughly modern. Clint’s primary adversaries—the tracksuit-wearing, “bro”-spouting Russian gangsters—drove original Mini Coopers straight out of the 1960s in earlier issues and here drive vans that would look at home being chased by Starsky & Hutch in the 1970s. Those touches that recall the 1960s and 70s have been pervasive in the series so far, and in this issue we had a dash of 1980s in the one “traditional” superhero scene in which Hawkeye fights A.I.M. alongside Wolverine and Spider-Man in a sequence drawn to recall a 1980s side-scroller video game. The most amazing thing about Hawkeye might be that none of these elements comes off as showy or gimmicky, instead they fit seamlessly into the framework of a book whose tone is wholly unique.

Matt Fraction

All of the above is surely attributable, in whole or in part, to the writer of the book, Matt Fraction. He’s someone who seems made to write this particular book starring these particular characters, most specifically Clint Barton, a character who is perfectly suited for Fraction’s voice. Traditionally, I have found Fraction to be an overly quippy and self-conscious writer and as a result I haven’t been the biggest fan of his work. And yet, all of the reasons why I didn’t respond to his work in the past are the pretty much all the reasons why I love it here. Go figure. Creative endeavors are weird like that.

There are more things I could mention about Hawkeye that make it such a great book–the way it pulls off the mostly one-and-done format, the sometimes awkwardly flirty mentor/mentee thing that Clint and Kate have going on–and there are more things from Hawkeye #6 in particular that I could rhapsodize about–”Hawkguy”, the black and white panels, Tony and Clint trying to set up Clint’s home theater system–but I’ll just close out this review, and a year of Picks of the Week, by saying that Hawkeye is one of the best comic books out there right now and there’s no good reason to not at least give it a shot.

Conor Kilpatrick
AND it was a Christmas story!
conor@ifanboy.com

Comments

  1. k5blazer k5blazer says:

    Well done Conor! And I like that Hawk still has a VCR wired into his system!

  2. DaveCarr DaveCarr says:

    “Jamoke!”

  3. wraith1701 wraith1701 says:

    Great review, and you nailed a lot of points that made the first 3 issues resonate with me. WHY did I leave this on the shelf? Picking it up tomorrow after work.

  4. This review made me love the book even more.

    I don’t know why I root for Fraction…maybe because his Invincible Iron Man run was so excellent and didn’t conform to super hero conventions and maybe because Fear Itself was so bad and brought out the haters in mass and maybe because the dude is seriously talented.

    Thanks for giving love to a writer who gets far too much hate.

    • mark. mark. says:

      is it that he gets far too much hate, or is he just inconsistent?

      i’m just curious. i have no horse in this race.

    • I haven’t read all his stuff but the only thing that I thought was bad was Fear Itself.

      I know it was intended as a Captain America/Thor minievent that editorial decided to make into a Marvel Universe event.

      That change in scope could have been one reason why it didn’t work well. Don’t know.

    • fo sho says:

      I love Fraction’s Hawkeye…just like I loved his Iron Man…well until the last couple arcs which I thought got bogged down a bit. For some reason, I hated him on X-Men though…like Conor, just thought all the characters were trying to be cool all the time. I almost didn’t give Hawkeye a try…but picked up issue 1 (because of Aja) and haven’t looked back!

  5. illmatic illmatic says:

    I love this f**king book.

  6. Wentos Wentos says:

    Great pick Conor! Totally agreed that this was the best book this week and this week was stacked as hell.

  7. This was one great review. I was on the fence about getting this series when it started, and decided to pass. But after hearing all the raves I have been curious about it. This review cemented it: I need to pick up the first trade of this when it hits the stands.

  8. VTfan says:

    I have never much liked Hawkeye. But in college they say pick the Prof, not the course, and in this case it’s pick the creative team, not the character. This Hawkeye I thoroughly enjoy and will, to my surprise, keep with this until it changes. Thanks for picking it–reading the POWs is a pretty reliable way to find things I’ll enjoy reading. And great review but as you note, there is so much more, for example how this team can make the dog part of the story in just a few panels.

  9. Alright ya twisted my arm! I’ll give this a shot in trade.

    Saga #8 was still my pick. But I can’t deny these POTW reviews, and this was a great one, is making me want to read this.

  10. This was so close to being my pick as was the new JSA Liberty Files but Hickman’s Avengers just sneaked in!

    Hawkeye has been a great success & probably one of the best new series Marvel has prior to the whole Marvel NOW! set-up. Fraction & Aja are a top draw team (even Pulido as well) combined & I expect more great success for next year.

  11. Sherlock19 Sherlock19 says:

    Considering the amount this week, I salute you for managing to just pick something. (and I’m now tempted to pick this up)

    • DFWRob DFWRob says:

      Yeah no kidding. I wasn’t able to pick up half my books this week because the stack was so large and i’m running thin on cash after christmas shopping.

      Avengers, Hulk, Uncanny X-Force, Thor, New X-Men, and Wonder Woman was all I could get. Hopefully i’ll be able to pick up Green Lantern, Daredevil, Wolverine and the X-Men and Nightwing next week.

    • illmatic illmatic says:

      I spend 63$ this week, your killing me Marvel! But they are churning out so much good stuff right now. And now with Throne Of Atlantis, DC is exploiting mt Aquaman weakness, Im going to be broke for a while lol.

  12. XkettnerdX XkettnerdX says:

    This book has been rad. It’s crazy how divisive Fraction is. Personally I sort of feel like Marvel is partially to blame for the guy’s mixed output, trying to build up the next Bendis type brand-name writer and in the process they spread Fraction, and dudes like him way too thin. I liked Casanova, and enjoyed some of the Iron man run…but as soon as they tried to make him one of the “architects” things went down the poop shoot. Glad he’s on a book with a character and a creative team that are consistently putting out great work. Hope Hawkeye can stick around for more than 12 issues.

  13. j206 j206 says:

    4.5% POW at the time this article was posted. Now currently the 2nd highest book at 17.6%. Do not underestimate the power of the iFanboy stamp of approval. That is unless it’s a Scott Snyder Batman week ;)

    Not that this wasn’t another fantastic issue. Such a great book. Say what you want about Marvel NOW! and the insane double shipping. But Marvel is putting out a tons of great books right now. And DC right now, not so much. The New 52 feels like ages ago.

    • k5blazer k5blazer says:

      Can’t agree more! It seems like the NOW! stuff just keeps coming on the heels of the previous week. But thus far most of the titles have been very good. If they can keep the quality this high with this schedule remains to be seen, but for now they are killing The New 52 in terms of execution. Except for Batman. That has been the one consistent bright spot at DC since the re-launch.

    • Arathi411 Arathi411 says:

      I’m enjoying the books but it is what it is, a reshuffling with a crazy release schedule. I’ve tried everything but i’m only really enjoying what I knew i’d enjoy.

      The new 52 started out hot with surprise hits that are still doing well such as animal man and aqua man, not sure what you would call the surprise hit of marvel now thus far. How the lower tier books and newer writers pan out will be the true measure of this for me.

      Also while I love Batman as much as the next guy, saying that it is the one consistently good dc book is not giving wonder woman it’s proper due.

  14. bub64882 bub64882 says:

    My favorite part of the issue was the audio video connection diagrams in the borders. I have stared at those same damn things SO LONG. Truly awesome.

    My only complaint about this series is that they aren’t really addressing the Hawkeye & Spider-Woman thing Bendis setup. Although, the more I think about it, we’re probably better off that they just leave it alone…it’s just more story if/when Fraction decides he wants to address it.

  15. Great big huge week of comic books! And now a long week off from work to enjoy them all. Merry Christmas to all my fellow iFanboys. Have a safe and fun holiday season.

  16. RobotZombie RobotZombie says:

    Best ever appearance by Dr. Druid.

  17. Rhymer Rhymer says:

    The only bad thing about “Hawkeye” is that it’s not an Green Arrow book. I’d like Ollie Queen to be written with such quality.

  18. randall4000 randall4000 says:

    One of the 5 best books on the shelf! This is going to make one heck of a collected edition.