One of the most critically acclaimed comic books of 2012 to 2014 (and even a bit of 2015) is Marvel’s Hawkeye, written by Matt Fraction, with art by David Aja. If you’re not familiar with this series, it follows (you guessed it), Hawkeye. But the Marvel Comics’ Hawkeye is a little bit different to the one that you saw in The Avengers. In fact there are two of them. Clint Barton, the original, and Kate Bishop, who took up the mantle when Clint was dead… Yeah, it’s a long story. But all you need to know is that both Clint and Kate are Hawkeye.
This series is based on the question, “What do the Hawkeyes do when they’re not with the Avengers?” And if you were thinking sleeping, eating and drinking coffee, you would definitely be correct.
But while coffee is a big part of this comic series, there is so much more to the story. The majority of this arc surrounds Clint Barton’s home – a unit in New York where the owners are trying to buy out or evict all of the tenants. Clint isn’t having any of that, and buys the building from the owners. Things go all downhill from there. The owners of the building, who are a part of the ‘tracksuit mafia’, really didn’t want to sell, and come back with a vengeance. Again and again, until the final confrontation. There are of course many other smaller arcs within the series, so there isn’t ever a dull or repeated moment.
One of the more notable arcs is the one surrounding Lucky the Pizza Dog. Lucky is a dog adopted by Clint in the first issue, and subsequently is used as both a storytelling device and a supporting character. In one issue (#11) the entire story is around Lucky, as in it tells the story from the point of view of a dog. And as silly as that sounds, it’s also somewhat perfect. Dogs notice things that we don’t. Different sights, different smells, different sounds. And that’s what makes this story so amazing; it’s something that we would never consider. This issue, along with many others broke down walls in the way that stories are told, and this was just one issue of the entire series.
Fraction’s writing of Hawkeye works perfectly in tandem with Aja’s art. It’s beautifully simplistic, yet detailed; approachable, yet awe inspiring. The humor that can be found in the story is emphasized by the art and vice versa. It’s as if these two have been working together for decades.
In fact, it is Aja’s art in this series that can be linked with the ‘new comic style’ that is currently sweeping the industry. Long gone are the bulging muscles with veins popping everywhere, and scantly clad women that would definitely not be getting any support from those ‘bikinis’. The polarizing art that people often imagine when they think of comics has been swapped for this much more approachable style. It’s very telling of an amazing artist that they have the ability to influence the industry in such a way; it’s not very often that these changes happen so suddenly and become so widespread.
Not only has the art affected the industry, but the story has as well. This series is, if nothing else, about a superhero, humanized. And the popularity of this series has gone on to affect much of Marvel’s current and future comics. Many series now focus of the characters more that the fighting – who they are, what they are fighting for. Black Widow (Edmondson, Noto) is not so much about a spy as it is about a woman trying to atone for her past. She-Hulk (Soule, Wada) is not about a green hulk-lady, but rather a lawyer trying to do the right thing. Ant-Man (Spencer, Brooks) isn’t about a man that can shrink and grow; it’s about a man trying to be a better father. And it’s this humanizing of superheros that has made the stories that much more interesting. They’re still fighting the bad guys, but it gives us as an audience more of a connection to the characters. That connection is what we should be looking for in all types of media. It makes us laugh and it makes us cry, but most importantly, it makes us grow.
In the past month, this series came to an end, with both Fraction and Aja moving on to different projects. And while it’s sad to see it go, it’s also great to see the journey of Clint, Kate, Lucky the Pizza Dog and the Mafia Bros come to a conclusion. It’s a bittersweet moment, but it was definitely worth the ride. If you’ve never read a comic in your life, I promise you that if you pick this one up, you will not be disappointed.