Hawkeye 1 My Life as a Weapon
Written by Matt Fraction
Art by David Aja
So... Superheroes. You know, I actually like superheroes. As a kid I read comics causally often scoping them out at a local Walmart (those were the days..). An older cousin of mine graciously donated his comic collection, which was made up primarily of Superman, Legion of Superheroes and Conan comics. I spent a lot of good time buried in those books but I would always drift back over to Marvel. Mainly Spiderman and X Men, with a lot of Captain America and GI Joe (these to shall be reviewed!). As I grew older I would drift more to the Avengers. Especially as the X-drama (if you'll excuse the term) grew heavier and bleaker and I felt that the characters I liked were being crapped on and marginalized (I was never a huge fan of Wolverine.. Well I find the new one interesting). But let me get to the comic itself.
Hawkeye My Life as a Weapon is the first volume of the 4th Hawkeye solo comic series to be produced. It started it's run in August 2012 and is still in production today. Volume one was written by Matthew Fraction, born in 1975 in Chicago Heights Illinois, Mr. Fraction is a long time comic book reader and writer. He is an Eisner Award winner and has worked on Iron Man, Iron Fist, the Uncanny X Men, Casanova and the Sex Criminals (which is a really weird series). David Aja is a Spanish born artist who as also won an Eisner for his cover art. Additionally Mr. Aja was a teacher of the fine arts at the University of Salamanca before becoming a professional illustrator. If his teaching is anything like his art, the comic book world's gain is the University of Salamanca's lost! I don't comment on the art in a graphic novel often because am I as qualified to seriously discuss art styles and such as your average dairy cow but I really like the art in this book. It's distinctive, interesting and matches the tone of the writing very well.
Let me talk about Hawkeye aka Clint Barton, especially for those of you who might only know him from the Marvel Movies (which I like don't get me wrong) because they're two very different characters. In the comics Hawkeye received his training from the villain Swordsman who made him and his brother into the most bad ass marksmen to ever marksmen. For awhile Hawkeye would travel with a circus using his craft but felt unfulfilled and decided to be a hero. To bad for him he ran into the Black Widow (back then she was a Soviet Villain, this was a long time ago) who conned him into the supervillain game. After a series of battles and misunderstandings Hawkeye was able to make his case and was accepted into the Avengers under Captain America's leadership. At first they didn't get along but these days Hawkeye is one of Cap's better friend (not as close as the Falcon maybe but pretty close). Since then Hawkeye has evolved into a mainstay of the Avengers despite not having any superpowers (in fact he was originally hard of hearing but was later cured). While like everyone else I kinda giggle at a man with a bow and arrow fighting alongside demigods, super soldiers and all sorts of other oddness... With Hawkeye it kinda works and it hasn't gotten into ridiculous territory like some other superheroes I could name (looking at you DC, we all know who I'm talking about here). Unlike his film version, he is not a family man and doesn't have a long term partner. He did have a wife at one point (The superhero Mockingbird) but they divorced. Which I'm honestly okay with... Unlike other marriage breaking events I could think of. What am I talking about? Let me just put this way, what was done to Animal Man's family was criminal. What was done to Aqua Man's marriage was stupid. Spiderman was a great superhero and I feel it's terrible that his comic book series ended in 2007. I'm not going to go any further because that would be a derail but I think I've made my position clear on some matters.
Anyways, the series itself shows just what it is that Clint is doing with himself when not an active avenger. What he's doing is apparently being awesome and crazy. Whether it's paling around with the normal citizens in his apartment building in New York City, dealing with his Russian Mob Landlord's attempt to run everyone out of the building so he can sell it for millions or yes, rescuing dogs from traffic! Most of the book takes place on the street level, with Clint mixing it up with track suit wearing Russians who believe the word bro is the best way to address anyone. That said there is a little trip to the hive of scum and villainy that is Maripoor, which had me laughing out loud. The writing is clever, somewhat irrelevant and playful while not taking anything away from Hawkeye and the trouble he gets into. Frankly I laughed a good deal reading this which I needed this week honestly. We got car chases, fist fights, arrows flying everywhere and proof that a boomerang arrow is a great idea (because it comes back!).
We also have Clint teaming up a lot with Kate Bishop, who is honestly pretty fucking awesome herself. Kate Bishop is a wealthy young woman who took up the mantle of Hawkeye when everyone thought Clint was dead (you know... Superheroes) and when he came back... They pretty much decided ah what the hell let's have two Hawkeyes, it'll be funny that way! Kate Bishop mainly stars in the Young Avengers' line up and you would think that she would be the Jr. partner in this but for the most part Clint treats her as an equal. Yes, she doesn't have the experience he does and he has things he can teach her (like don't leave home without your bulletproof vest) but she ain't a side kick. I like that. Of course we also see Clint fucking up pretty often when it comes to personal relationships so he does make his fair share of missteps. Basically Clint can be a bit of fuck up when he's not on the job but at least he's trying to help people and be a decent human being. Which is frankly all I ask, just try to be a decent person and Clint gives that his all, as this book is pretty much full of him and Kate helping people. Often at great personal risk and cost. Which is what makes him a hero, not the bow and arrows, not the custom but the fact that he keeps helping people even when it costs him.
That said, the book does suffer from a lack of an over arching story line and the time skipping in the first issue of the 6 collected here (5 from the Hawkeye series and 1 from Young Avengers showing how Kate and Clint made their peace) gets a bit jarring in places. It smooths out quickly enough though. So all things considered? Hawkeye My Life as a Weapon by Matthew Fraction gets a B+, I'll be getting the second volume, no question.