You cannot help but feel just a tad cynical when you read this one; you know that in an estimated six issues, Marvel will drop the ball, and “Hawkeye” will just turn into another crossover whore, pushed to double ship each and every month.
You know all of that, and in some sense it dampens the experience, but if anything, we’ll all be able to look back at this one example and know we read a good Hawkeye comic book once, and that in fact, Matt Fraction may not have lost it all, after all.
All we can hope for, right?
“Hawkeye #1” came out better than I expected. Aja was sure to show up in my mind, but to have Fraction hustle as well and write a tight enough script managed to sway opinion and place the thought in my head that “maybe Marvel can still produce something worthwhile.” It’s a script clearly in work with its artist, showing characteristics similar to a “Marvel-style” production effort. And why not? When you have David Aja drawing the book, that seems to be the only smart move. Leave the pacing to the draftsman; leave the tone to the color wheel. And although the palette resides closely to something of a Mazzucchelli Daredevil book, it does lift the environment from basic background filler to more of an organic character.
And Fraction writes to that, connecting Barton’s characterization to the territory he frequents. It’s his way of saying “Hawkeye a.k.a. Clint Barton. Avenger. Human being. No super powers” without going the route of a cheap caption or bad narration. Instead, he seems to lift a little bit from Miller’s Daredevil, blending setting and character together, and arriving at this conclusion that Hawkeye is down to Earth because of where he lives.
The first scene does the most, though, as Fraction puts Barton in the hospital and has him exit in an annoyed rage. That scene boils down who Barton is, introducing the mythical new reader who picked up this first issue, without slowing everything down for the rest of us already aware. It also presents Fraction’s take and the angle that he and Aja are coming from in terms of their run.
He’s put into the hospital because he can be – he’s a somewhat normal guy – but get under his skin, and you should watch out. There’s a fire in that character, or a frustration, and kicking the wheelchair gets that idea across in this nice, sort-of poetic way.
Separate the sequence from the rest of the book ,and you could even consider it a nice little vignette.
“Hawkeye #1” represents more of what I want to see from Fraction as he does his little stint at Marvel: Tight pop comics. I know this won’t last, and “Hawkeye” will just end up the “Daredevil” of this year once Aja departs, but for now I’ll just call this a nice super hero comic book and enjoy it. Maybe part of its appeal is that its just an above-average exception to the super hero rule set these days, but if so, at least it’s some sort of step up.
I’ll silence my cynicism for now.