Hawkeye has been portrayed in many different ways. He's had several different costumed identities and has been part of several teams. The creative team that brought us the great IMMORTAL IRON FIST series, Matt Fraction and David Aja, are back to deliver stories on the man behind the Hawkeye mask, Clint Barton.
Back in 2006, I was a fan of Iron Fist but it was the combination of Matt Fraction's writing and David Aja's art that really made me a fan. They added a new complexity to the character that I didn't know was possible. I can't describe my excitement when it was first revealed to us that they would reunite to take on another favorite character, Hawekeye.
While there will no doubt be many newer Hawkeye fans after his appearance in The Avengers but long time readers already know there is much much more to him. He's not simply a character with a bow and arrow (as this first issue clearly illustrates). This is a hero, with no superpowers, that has more than earned his position among Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
Clint's recent appearance in AVENGING SPIDER-MAN attempted to shed some new light on the character and his strive for perfection as a non-powered hero. It was great to see him constantly practicing to better himself but it felt a bit extreme. Clint's portrayal here is what feels right. He's been in the game way too long to still be worrying about how good he is. He should already know how good he is. We also see that Clint isn't perfect. He gets messed up a bit here but bounces back. One of the charming facets of the character is that he isn't perfect and can be a little damaged at times. Fraction writes him with the right amount of attitude, toughness, vulnerability and skills needed to get the job done.
As for what that job is, it doesn't have anything to do with the Avengers or other costumed characters. This is Clint, on the streets, doing what needs to be done. He doesn't always make the best decisions or handle things in the best manner but that's why Clint is so great.
What about David Aja's art? My goodness, I could just look at it all day. I love how it pulls you into the comic and you feel like you're part of what's going on. Along with Matt Hollingsworth's colors, this has such a distinct feel from the other Avengers titles. That's a good thing. If Fraction's goal is to take Hawkeye to a different part of the Marvel Universe, the vibe and atmosphere here is perfect. Based on this first issue, the series feels like it could be completely enjoyed on its own. It also makes me proud that I recently bought a purple tie right before SDCC.
While I'm basically gushing over the entire issue, I have to mention that Chris Eliopoulos' letters shouldn't be overlooked either. Take notice of the scene where Clint is crossing the road and the cars are honking or when the room is laughing at him or even the good old fashioned fighting sound effects.
Nothing. If anything, there was a surprisingly very low number of actual arrows in this issue. But that's not a problem at all and further shows how cool Clint can be.
I had extremely high expectations for Fraction and Aja launching a new Hawkeye series. He's always been a favorite character but hasn't always had the best of luck in comic series. This one will change all that. Fraction and Aja give us more of Clint Barton rather than Hawkeye. This isn't just a guy in purple with a bow and arrows. This is a highly skilled man that can't help but be a hero. We often see new/spin off series carry the same feel as the other titles in their 'family' but this is different. This is a series that can be read without knowing a single bit of the current continuity of the Avengers. More importantly, this is a series that needs to be read. Fraction and Aja proved what they could do on IMMORTAL IRON FIST and it looks like the magic they crafted back then is going to carry over to Hawkeye. It's not just these two guys that made this a great and fun book. Matt Hollingsworth's colors and Chris Eliopoulos' letters also meshed perfectly to create a nice and gritty world for Clint Barton to cruise around cracking skulls. I cannot wait for the next issue.
Tony Guerrero is the Editor-in-Chief of Comic Vine. You can follow him on Twitter @GManFromHeck. He tried counting how many times "bro" was used but quickly gave up, bro.