For Your Consideration: Marvel’s Hawkeye Vol. 1: My Life As A Weapon

Hawkeye Vol. 1: My Life As A Weapon

Hawkeye Vol. 1: My Life As A Weapon

by Robert Greenberger

Hawkeye can easily be considered one of the second wave of character introductions during the Marvel Age. Initially used as a gimmicky foe for Iron Man in Tales of Suspense, Clint Barton came back, this time with the notorious Black Widow, and captured readers’ imaginations. Stan Lee must have liked him, too, since he then became part of the reconfigured Avengers with issue #16. Given a second chance, he wanted to make the most of it, bickering with Captain America, using bravado to hide some deep insecurity. In time, we came to learn about his carnival background, his villainous brother, and other aspects of his life.

While his arrows may have matched Green Arrow’s quiver for inventiveness, they always felt more high tech and less corny. He also had a clear cut personality from the get-go, which separated the two archers. Since then, Hawkeye has been on countless teams, finally given a chance to lead with the Thunderbolts and then the Secret Avengers. Along the way, he romanced numerous women, marrying Mockingbird and then mourning her loss. His hearing was adversely affected back in the 1980s and he has knocked around as a fan favorite earning 44th place on IGN’s list of All-Time Heroes and 45th on Wizard’s comparable list despite never quite being commercially successful.

This year that finally changed when Barton was turned over to Matt Fraction, one of the strongest writers at the House of Ideas. Teaming up again with David Aja, their Hawkeye has been an entertaining, enjoyable ongoing series. For those who came in late, the first five issues are being collected in a single volume. As a bonus, for those who may have forgotten, Fraction’s first Hawkeye solo tale from Young Avengers Presents #6 is also on hand, with lovely art from Alan Davis and Mark Famer. That 2008 offering actually focused on Kate Bishop, socialite turned avenging archer in Allen Heinberg’s Young Avengers. Her personality and potential is nicely highlighted here.

The story is included because Bishop is a part of Fraction’s ensemble in the new series. Things kick off when SHIELD sends Barton and Bishop (the Killer B’s) to intercept a packet of incriminating evidence. To separate Hawkeye the Avenger from Hawkeye the solo hero, Fraction and Aja send him around the world, with stories skewing more towards espionage than heroics. You’ll learn about The Tape and the Vagabond Code.

For those looking for a continuation of Hawkeye’s messed up romantic life with Mockingbird and Spider-Woman will have to look elsewhere. Instead, Fraction sees Barton and Bishop as a pair of adventurers more John Steed and Emma Peel than Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

He explained to interviewer Christian Hoffer, “I mean, Hawkeye is about Hawkeye, and the arrows, and the trick shots, and the everything else — it’s about the guy under the mask and why he does what he does. He’s the human being on the Avengers and that’s what the book’s about. The guy, the regular dude, that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Thor and Cap — he’s who I wanted to write about. I got this image of Clint in my head with tape over his nose, a bandage over the bridge, that David would draw and… and there was my book.”

As for Aja’s stylish, distinctive artwork, Fraction gushes, “Most of all I remain David’s biggest fan so to get the chance to write for him again makes me ridiculously happy. I think we push each other to do better, to be smarter, and to make a greater piece of work than we would have otherwise. Whether it’s dumb little details or big things — which are hard to point out without an issue in front of me, or rather, without an issue in front of you — we’re both kinda… simpatico in our patter. And it picked up straight up from where we left off. I write for him, especially for him. I trust him, I know when to back off, when to get out in front. We have our thing pretty down.”

Matt Hollingsworth’s colors make Aja’s art come alive in a fresh way, reminding us what a talented artist and storyteller Matt is in his own, quiet way.

Fraction has spent some time developing Barton’s life out of uniform, finally giving him an apartment in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. He’s developing friends and relationships (and foes) apart from the team that has defined his identity for decades. These are very strong stories, well worth your attention.


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