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Bane of Kings writes a review of Hawkeye Vol 1: My Life As A Weapon by Matt Fraction, with art from David Aja, published by Marvel Comics
“The best Marvel title currently on shelves at the moment – if you’re a comic fan and you haven’t read an issue of Hawkeye, you’re doing it wrong.” ~The Founding Fields
This review was updated to fix some minor issues with the text shortly after it was published.
Writer: Matt Fraction | Art: David Aja | Cover: David Aja | Publisher: Marvel Comics | Collects: Hawkeye #1-5, Young Avengers Presents #6,
The breakout star of this summer’s blockbuster Avengers film, Clint Barton – aka the self-made hero Hawkeye – fights for justice! With ex-Young Avenger Kate Bishop by his side, he’s out to prove himself as one of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes! SHIELD recruits Clint to intercept a packet of incriminating evidence – before he becomes the most wanted man in the world. You won’t believe what is on The Tape! What is the Vagabond Code? Matt Fraction pens a Hawkeye thriller that spans the globe…and the darkest parts of Hawkeye’s mind. Barton and Bishop mean double the Hawkeye and double the trouble…and stealing from the rich never looked so good.
For me, I was a bit skeptical about a good Hawkeye book, but it turns out – that all my fears were quelled. I owned the first two issues digitally and the first three in print, but that didn’t stop me from buying the Trade Paperback when I saw it in Waterstones. It’s pretty much everything you could want from a graphic novel, fun – doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, worth your money and something that you’d want to come back to reading again and again. It’s been so well received by critics in fact, the only person that I know who doesn’t like it is fellow book reviewer, Shadowhawk. And whilst I’ll admit the unusual art style had me off balance at first, I soon found myself to be really enjoying Matt Fraction’s take on Hawkeye, made even more so interesting by the fact that I’d never picked up a Hawkeye comic before – only have ever seen him in Avengers, and the fact that I felt that he looked like a weaker version of Green Arrow never helped matters either.
However, My Life As A Weapon and the subsequent Hawkeye stories that I’ve read from #9 onwards have showed that not only how good Matt Fraction is, but also – he’s challenging, and even beating, Jeff Lemire’s incredible Green Arrow series for a high spot on my favourite comics list. It’s just incredible. Whilst there may be no ongoing storyarc or mystery, with three one-shots and one two-part story, it allows for an interesting read that’s not like your average superhero comic. In fact, whilst there are lot of similarities between Hawkeye & Green Arrow as characters, their books are almost nothing alike. Lemire opts for Dark Knight levels of grittiness, whilst Fraction’s Hawkeye has several humorous moments, and the multiple usage of the word “bro”, which shouldn’t work as well as it did. Also, did I mention that Hawkeye also introduces one of the, if not the best character to come out of Marvel Now! (although technically this title was launched pre-Marvel now!) within the pages, the awesome Pizza Dog, who gets a full issue with the most recently released #11, which is well worth picking up if you’ve read this volume.
One of the best thing about Hawkeye is its small, returning cast. Books like Avengers and Wolverine and the X-Men have a lot of heroes (and in the latter’s case, villains) to juggle through, but Hawkeye is merely limited to three main characters, the aforementioned Pizza Dog, Clint Barton and Kate Bishop, a former Young Avenger who I haven’t encountered before in the comics. I understand that she’s getting her own Annual in Hawkeye which is released next week, and I’ll certainly be on board for that – as Kate is a very strong character in my book, and a great counterpart to Clint himself, who’s structured in a very different way to what he is from Jeremy Renner’s portrayal of him in Avengers. Whilst it’s fair to say that we didn’t get to see much of the real Hawkeye whilst he was possessed by Loki in that film, having read Hawkeye, it’s safe to say that the character featured here is a heck of a lot better than anything that Renner could ever do, which is why in my opinion at least, I think Renner is probably the only weak spot in an otherwise incredible Avengers lineup. However, back to My Life As A Weapon.
If I ever get around to making a series of awards for the best Comic of 2013, I think Hawkeye or Scott Snyder’s Batman will certainly claim it. (Even though this series, like Batman did start previously). I just love Matt Fraction’s writing, and Aja’s artwork is incredible. I mean, just look at that cover – it’s simple, for sure, but it kicks ass. The artwork is one of the strongest things about this book, made even more awesome by the fact that I haven’t encountered anything quite like this before. The story is funny, witty – very enjoyable to read, and with the fact that Volume 2 comes out soon, if you’re one of the few people yet to read this series, I highly suggest that you jump on board, as it’s the best to come out of Marvel Now! as it stands.
It’s also a great introduction to the Marvel Universe, for it’s a great place to start if you don’t want to catch up on years of backstory – and has an added bonus of that it’s sure to become an absolute classic. Top notch.
HAWKEYE TPBs: Vol. 1: My Life As A Weapon (#1-5, Young Avengers Presents #6), Vol. 2: Little Hits (#6-11), Vol. 3: L.A. Woman (unknown)