It should be no surprise that I have gotten together a rather hefty comic collection over the last few years. Because of this, my small monthly purchases add up and can be very pricey. To make sure that I make the most of my money and shelf space, I rely heavily on reviews and follow writers that I really enjoy. When Matt Fraction’s ‘Hawkeye’ was released, I was very suspect of all of the rave reviews, and held off on getting the series. Added to this dissuasion was my complete indifference to the character.
It was literally years of consistently good reviews that I decided to finally give the acclaimed run a shot. With a bar set so high, it’s hard to live up to the hype that everyone created over the comic. That being said, I completely understand why people love Fraction’s run. From the very beginning, the comic has a very distinct tone that sets itself apart from most comics that I’ve read by that point.
Fraction took Hawkeye’s super heroics and immediately made it the least interesting part of the book. Instead of master-mind villains and world domination, Fraction opts for a much more grounded storyline. The book is very character focused with a less fantastic yet still engaging plot. One of the biggest surprises is how Fraction made me care about Hawkeye, Clint Barton. Fraction fleshes out and perfects the ‘lovable screw-up’ so well in his portrayal of Clint, that I consider his Hawkeye a completely different character from all of the other Marvel titles.
The humor in 'Hawkeye' is very smartly written and is much more subtle in its approach than most other comics. Instead of slapstick visual gags that work so well in the comic book medium, Fraction relies on his wit and an inexplicable sense of timing in a medium that is definitely not suited for timing. That being said, the humor makes the series what it is, and the eccentric but rich characters drive this home.
Of course, the book is nothing without the artist, and David Aja was a perfect collaborator. The subject matter is fun and punchy, so a grittier detailed art style would have made the book too dark. On the flip side, Fraction’s writing is not wacky or over-the-top, so the art also has to be more realistic to match the subtlety of his writing. Aja’s style finds this perfect balance between realistic and overly detailed.
Truly, the book lived up to the hype surrounding it, if only for the fact that it feels like something different and fun. The change in tone is refreshing, and it’s neat to see a stylistic and unique voice, let alone from a writer that works on so many other wildly different series concurrently. The run has ended quite a while ago and is easy to pick up in a number of different formats.