(Marvel Comic, 2013)
Review by Shawn Warner
WRITTEN BY: Matt Fraction
ARTWORK BY: David Aja
COLOR ARTWORK BY: Matt Hollingsworth
LETTERING BY: Chris Eliopoulos
The wait is finally over. The interval between issues was painfully long this time but to avoid using fill-in creators this is the price we pay, but boy is it worth the wait. This issue is so sadly sweet and tragically beautiful it’s like an eloquent and poetic “Dear John” letter from the only woman you will ever love, the words sting but the tears they bring are bittersweet because the words themselves are so exquisite in their melancholic splendor. Matt Fraction writes a touching eulogy of an issue to one of Clint’s offbeat neighbors, his friend Grills who was much like a Seinfeldian character in his quirky effervescence and hilariously colloquial vernacular. There is no doubt Grills will be missed but Fraction has populated Clint’s world with so many wonderfully aimless denizens wandering the byways of the New York City landscape that I’m sure someone will fill the vacuous but temporary void created by his untimely death.
This issue is definitely a gloomy one however it is just another day in the life of Clint Barton. He has become Matt Fraction’s Job of Old Testament fame in that Fraction has found a wonderfully inspired way of re-telling the story of a man who just will not give up, no matter what comes his way Clint deals with it, rarely if ever does he make the best decisions but he gets through it all somehow. Like the proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes, Barton returns time and time again after hitting what appears to be his lowest point but that is where heroes are born, what is one man’s breaking point is just another day on the job for a card carrying Avenger. The appeal of Hawkeye is in the fact that he doesn’t have all the right answers or gadgets or heck even a costume in this book but he has his wits and a lot of dumb luck just when he needs it most and that is what humanizes the hero making him an “Everyman” that every man would love to be.
Issue #13 is a bit different in that there is no real heroic rising from the ashes, instead we really see Clint at an all-time low. He has lost a friend and he is just running on fumes after recent events. One of the most touching and poignant moments in the book is a scene between Kate and Clint in the back of the limousine before the funeral. Kate opens up her heart and tells Clint basically that she believes they are perfect together however her revelation falls on deaf ears as a battered and beaten down Clint has fallen sound asleep in the middle of her moving speech and is having a dream full of disturbing images of Grills and the rest of his neighbors drowning. This entire issue has a deep introspective feel to it, Fraction really peels away some of the layers and gives us a stark view of Clint. The interaction between Clint and his brother is a great example of this. Their relationship like so much in Clint’s life seems flawed and complicated.
David Aja sticks with a simple nine panel grid throughout the entirety of this issue which fits the rapid pace of the narrative while lending an air of confining space as if Clint’s world was closing in on him. The almost monochromatic pallet of restrained colors works incredibly well here in conveying a downcast tone. You get the feeling that it is always cloudy and rainy in Clint’s neighborhood which is the perfect background for the narrative. I have loved the visual aesthetic of this book since the first issue and the creative team has maintained a sense of artistic congruence throughout the run, this is definitely the exception not the rule these days. Matt Fraction is one of the most innovative and original writers working today and when you team him up with an artistic visionary like David Aja what you get is one of the most consistently great books on the racks today and that’s exactly what Hawkeye is, it has real heart and it makes you feel real emotions because you actually come to care about these characters in a way that is special and complex.
I can’t think of anyone who should not be reading Hawkeye but if you have somehow missed the boat on this wonderfully entertaining comic book, please go out today and get the trades, get caught up and add this book to your pull list, heck start a pull list just so you never miss an issue. I originally had thought to give this issue a 4.9 however I read it again as I was writing this review and I can’t find a single thing to complain about so I am revising that to a perfect 5. This issue is a pure gem, a sadly beautiful gem. So until next time I will see you at the comic book store my friends.
Follow Shawn Warner on Twitter: @shawnwarner629