Thursday, 11 August 2016

#CBR8 Book 79: "Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon" by Matt Fraction, David Aja and Javier Pulido

Page count: 136 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars

I didn't know a whole lot about Hawkeye outside of the Marvel comic book movies, where he's clearly an excellent bowman and reclusive family man, but also Black Widow's wise-quipping sidekick. I've heard good things about Matt Fraction's run on this comic for years, and since it was on our shelf, this summer seemed like the right time to finally check it out. I'm so glad I did.

In the comic, Hawkeye, or Clint Barton as he's known when he's not a part of the Avengers, is not a family man. In the first issue of this trade (the first five issues and a special of Young Avengers, showing how Kate Bishop and Hawkeye first met), he gets a dog, but he appears to live alone and be quite content with that. The closest thing he has to a family is Kate Bishop, his young protegee, who may be the only one in the world as good as (or even better with) arrows than he is.

In my review of the first volume of Captain Marvel, I complained that I didn't really find out much about who she was as a person, or what the exact nature of her powers were (I found out later that apparently while it is labelled as volume 1, it's strictly speaking more like volume 4 in the ongoing Kelly Sue DeConnick-written adventures of Captain Marvel, which would probably explain why it felt like I was missing a LOT - bad marketing move there, guys). This is more what I expected from the first trade about a superhero (albeit a human one with no actual superpowers, just a dedicated training regime and amazing archery skills).

Matt Fraction writes a very likable Hawkeye, who will risk his own safety to rescue a dog in traffic, spend a lot of his own money to save the people in his neighbourhood from being evicted, who will team up with his teenage sidekick to outsmart a circus full of bad guys, can easily escape car chase with his quiver full of seemingly useless novelty arrows, is quite the ladies man, and occasionally a very decent secret agent and decoy. I loved the action and humour, the easy-going relationship between Clint and Kate (although the Young Avengers story at the end was my least favourite of the issues in the trade) and seeing some of the stuff Barton might get up to when he's not one of the more physically vulnerable of the Avengers. The writing is clever and fun and the art was also very well done. With a colour palette of mostly dark colours, the comic gets a noir aesthetic which adds to my enjoyment.

Sadly, because the Oslo public library system seems to mainly prioritise NORWEGIAN books (strange that) and not really American superhero comics of any kind, the husband and I have to buy all the comics and graphic novels we read. So while I really want more of this, I suspect I'm going to have to wait a while (as we've spent well over our summer budget already while in New York).

Judging a book by its cover: I think the mostly black and white, rather stark cover, with the purple (Hawkeye's signature colour) details in the form of bullseyes (cause he's an archer, see what they did there?) is really eye-catching and cool. The art style mirrors that inside the comic really well and while the use of arrows in the font can be a bit seen as a bit hokey, I like it.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read. 

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