Bro, you read Hawkeye bro?
Five years ago today*, one of my all-time favorite comics debuted. It was the first book that I waited excitedly to read from the time it was announced to the day it came out. Fraction and Aja’s tenure on The Immortal Iron Fist with Ed Brubaker was all I needed to stoke my excitement. But even with that, I didn’t expect it to be a book that would have the impact it did on the market.
If you’re not familiar with this volume of Hawkeye, it focuses on the Aubergine Archer’s life when he’s not avenging. Much of the series takes place in his apartment; other times, he’s at a veterinarian’s office or stumbling through casinos or fighting carnies. He screws up and makes things up as he goes and alienates the people in his life—save for Kate Bishop, maybe. She makes up the other half of Team Hawkeye (and might just be the more competent of the two Hawkeyes).
Character and relationships drive this book—which comes as no surprise with Matt Fraction behind the script. Yes, it’s funny, too; but the humor is stage-setting. It’s small, personal drama that drives everything: a neighbor being evicted, a dog needing surgery, dealing with co-workers you used to be involved with, alienating friends, giving that family member who always burns you another chance.
Fraction’s script is only a part of the magic at work here, though. David Aja anchors the book’s visuals in intimate, design-oriented style. In the second issue, for example, Clint nocks, draws, and fires his bow while talking to Kate. That entire process plays out on the page in parallel with the individual letters of the words Kate says. Her lips form the individual sounds of the words. It’s a specific, intentional piece of layout that communicates just how quickly Clint loads and fires a bow at a target. And that’s just a sign of things to come—future issues communicate in smell and sign language.
Guest artists do come through from time to time—with Javier Pulido jumping into two issues of this arc—but the sensibilities that Aja begins the series with carry through. In no small part, that comes from Matt Hollingsworth’s colors. He gives the book a focused, minimalist color treatment that draws attention and focus.
This run on Hawkeye is one of my favorite comics. I love to suggest it to people who are new to comics to give them a sense of how the medium’s storytelling can go beyond superhero bombast. But even if you know that and have been reading comics your whole life, if you haven’t read Hawkeye in the last five years, it’s time to get on it, bro.
*August 4, 2017—which is the day before this will actually go up, but what can you do?
- Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon (#1-5, Young Avengers Presents #6)
- Hawkeye, Vol. 1 (#1-11, Young Avengers Presents #6)
- Hawkeye by Matt Fraction and David Aja Omnibus (#1-11, Annual #1, Young Avengers Presents #6)
Writer: Matt Fraction | Artist: David Aja (1-3), Javier Pulido (4-5), Alan Davis (YAP 9) | Inker: Mark Farmer (YAP 9) | Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth (1-5); Paul Mounts (YAP 9) | Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos (1-5); VC’s Cory Petit (YAP 9) | Covers: David Aja (1-5); Jim Cheung, John Dell, Justin Ponsor (YAP 9) | Assistant Editors: Sana Amant, Tom Brennan (1-5); Molly Lazer (YAP 9) | Editor: Stephen Wacker (1-5); Tom Brevoort (YAP 9)