Comic Review: Hawkeye #1 / Writer: Matt Fraction / Art: David Aja, Matt Hollingworth / Publisher: Marvel / Release Date: Out Now
This month, Marvel pulls back the curtain to give fans a look at Clint Barton’s life outside of the Avengers with the debut issue of Hawkeye #1. Writer Matt Fraction takes an unconventional route for a superhero comic as he pens a tale that involves scant few superheroics and even fewer brightly colored costumes. The first issue of this ongoing series follows Clint Barton through an almost agonizingly normal day, as he struggles with the minor frustrations of everyday civilian life and Fraction’s staunch refusal to give in to comic book convention is perhaps the book’s greatest strength.
The only time we see Clint Barton dressed in his trademark Hawkeye purple and black is in the book’s opening splash page, in which our hero falls, less than gracefully, off of a building and onto a parked car. The moment serves as a tongue in cheek reminder that while Clint may run with demi-gods and supersoldiers, he is, at the end of the day, comparatively fragile. Even without superpowers, costumed crusaders tend to loom larger than life in comics, effortlessly pulling off feats of grace and agility that defy the basic principles of physics and probability, but Fraction wisely chooses to highlight Hawkeye’s relatability. Clint Barton may be a hero, but he is as human as the rest of us.
After his disastrous tumble, Clint finds himself negotiating obstacles that would seem like a walk in the park for someone who’s gone into battle alongside an Incredible Hulk, but the magic is in the nuances of Fraction’s writing and the rough edges of David Aja’s artwork, which perfectly complements the gritty Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood which Clint has chosen to call home. Likewise, Matt Hollingsworth’s restricted color palette is in stark relief to the sleek, glossy look of many an Avengers comic and that sort of artistic restraint works in the service of the story.
This day-in-the-life view of Clint Barton’s life beyond the Avengers sees the eponymous hero have a philosophical fight with a wheelchair, get stuck in traffic, confront an unethical landlord, and rush an injured dog to the vet. Fraction’s decision to showcase experiences that readers can easily relate to is a nice reminder that while Hawkeye and his cohorts often battle the forces of evil on a much grander cosmic scale, sometimes minor acts of heroism can be the most powerful.