(Marvel Comics, 2013)
Reviewed by Galen Garner
WRITTEN BY: Matt Fraction
ARTWORK BY: Francesco Francavilla
For the second time since the new Hawkeye series began last year, Matt Fraction has once again teamed up with pulp-comic artist Francesco Francavilla for the most recent issues of Hawkeye.
With Francavilla’s art being substantially different from series regular, David Aja, the pulp inspired art definitely fits with this current Hawkeye series. I do enjoy the change, but I also look forward to Aja being back behind the pen once again. Kudos to Fraction for bringing Barton back to our reality, but it is the combined art of Aja and Francavilla that has kept me glued to this series.
In this twelfth installment of the Hawkeye series, the story revolves around Barney Barton, the older brother of Clint. In the usual Fraction fashion, this story unfolds in a unique format that forces the reader to pay close attention to all the details. Barney comes across as a helpless wanderer that has returned to New York to visit his brother.
Throughout the book, Barney begs for spare change from various people that live in Clint’s neighborhood. His begging leads him to an unmarked van with two Eastern European gangsters parked outside of his brother’s building. Barney obviously is unaware of his brother’s troubles with these guys, but he finds himself asking for change. There response is an infamous – Bro, seriously!
This leads to Barney telling the guys that he will let them punch him in the face for five dollars. They knock him down and don’t pay him the five dollars that they agreed to. At this point in the story is where things really got great because the story flashes back to the childhood of Barney and Clint. We see the fondness for one another as his older brother teaches Clint how to shoot nickels at bottles by snapping his fingers. I love how Fraction includes the human element of Hawkeye and being able to peer into his childhood gives more depth to his character as a superhero.
As most superhero, Barney and Clint have a rough relationship with their father because he is abusive to their mother. Clint, being the hothead that he is, tries to stand up to his father, which leads to his father beating him. Barney takes this as an opportunity to teach Clint how to deliver a punch and we learn how much of a beating Barney is willing to take.
Jump back to present day and Barney is found being taunted by the Eastern European bros with a roll of 100s to let them smash him around for two minutes. He obviously agrees and takes a pretty severe beating. Upon not paying and fleeing the scene, the gang members try to get away from Barney. At this point, we find out another connection between Barney and Clint as Barney produces a bow and shoots the tire out of the getaway van. The van goes crashing into a light post and gives Barney the opportunity to get his money.
In the end, Barney and Clint are reunited in a beautiful scene that shows the great emotional connection of these brothers. I wouldn’t say that Hawkeye #12 is the best of the series, but I love that it bares personality. I miss that in my comic book subscriptions. Most books are filled with fluff to stretch a series, but it’s easy to see that Fraction is trying to make the most for his readers in each issue. When I finished this book, I had the sudden urge to send my brother a text to tell him how important he was to me. There are many comic book writers, but there aren’t many comic book storytellers and that is exactly what Fraction is.
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