Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon by Matt Fraction
Matt Fraction and David Aja make a great team as they take a peek into the ‘everyday’ life of a superhero… a superhero who can’t shoot lightning bolts, fly, or bench press a city bus. What does an average Avenger do on his days off?
The story starts by letting us see Clint Barton, aka the Avenging archer Hawkeye, having a pretty bad day (which seems to be the norm for him): he’s just gotten out of the hospital after sustaining major injuries during his ‘day job’, runs into a track suit mafia that wants to evict all the tenants from his low-rent apartment building, and becomes responsible for a dog that got hit by a car, partially due to Clint’s intervention. Things don’t really get much rosier from there. We then get a list of every bad decision Clint is capable of making in one day (for the record, it’s nine this time) — along with a running tab on his arsenal of trick arrows, both the wacky and the wonderful: boomerang, respect it. Finally we follow Clint on his quest to wrest an incriminating videotape (yes, tape) from the clutches of a cadre of rich supervillains intent on getting some dirt on one of the Avengers. Ultimately we see how trying to do the right thing can lead to all sorts of complications, misunderstandings, and just plain bad luck. It’s not always easy being Clint Barton. In fact, it’s probably never easy.
The other major player in the Hawkeye series is Kate Bishop, a privileged young heiress whose defining attributes seem to be an overabundance of sass and world-class archery skills. These make her more than qualified to be the de-facto protégé of Hawkeye, a hero known to be pretty good with a quip and a bow himself.
Kate plays the hip sidekick to Clint’s (somewhat in over his head) mentor and it’s here that I ran into a few issues with the series. Please allow my inner-geek to vent a bit: granted, one of the great hooks for this character has always been his low self-esteem and the fact that he was a ‘mere’ human who sometimes felt in over his head working on the premiere Marvel super-team peopled by gods and monsters; also, granted that having the whole protégé-teacher dynamic turned on its head in various ways is a clever and entertaining idea.
Despite these things, though, it sometimes felt like Fraction was leaning a little too heavily on the ‘Clint’s an all-too-human screw-up’ side of things. I mean by now he’s proven himself time and again and has even led both the Avengers and the Thunderbolts fer crissakes! And Fraction has him being led around by the nose by Kate freakin’ Bishop?! Is it really that likely that Clint is such a mess that he has to have his supposed protégé telling him how to act on a mission? I can accept the snarky banter between them: she wants to sass Clint and he plays along? Cool. But to think that she’d be the real backbone of the partnership just kinda rubbed me the wrong way. It was a bit too extreme. Ok, end of rant.
The art by David Aja in issues 1-3 is awesome: reminds me of Mike Allred’s stuff, which is always a good thing. The art by Javier Pulido for issues 4-5? Um, not so much. The additional story in the back from the pages of the Young Avengers was ok, it certainly showed Hawkeye as less of a screw-up and more of a mentor, but it was definitely a change in pace and style from the rest of the book.
All in all this is good stuff. I totally understand the love this title gets… I just wish Hawkeye got a little more respect. The poor guy deserves a break every now and then.
Oh and Dan? Apropos of nothing: Hal Jordan is still better than crab-face guy!
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That was my view as well, as you'll see in my soon-to-post review