Written by Matt Fraction
Art by David Aja
Colors by Matt Hollingsworth
Lettering by Chris Eliopoulos
Review by Joey Braccino
In issue #2 of Matt “Mr. DeConnick” Fraction’s smash-hit Hawkeye solo series, Clint Barton shoots arrows, gets shot at by faux-Frenchmen, makes lame jokes, and finds a partner-in-(non)crime! Also, readers should keep their eyes peeled for cameos by street-level crime bosses The Owl (Daredevil), Kingpin (Daredevil & Spider-Man), Hammerhead and Tombstone (Spider-Man) and Madame Masque (Iron Man). With the exception of Madame Masque (who may be appearing because of Fraction’s relationship with the Iron Man mythos), the inclusion of these characters speak to Hawkeye’s larger mission of repackaging Clint Barton as a Robin Hood-esque defender of the people. “This is what [Clint] does when he’s not being an Avenger” is the mission statement of the book, and the product is an entertaining, visually stunning, street-level comic caper.
This issue features another one-and-done mission for Clint that brings him to the same Cirque Du Nuit performance as the aforementioned bad guys. This time, though, Clint doesn’t go alone; he teams with Kate “Formerly-Young-Now-Full-Avenger” Bishop to bring some double-bow-and-arrow detective skills to the sketchy circus show. I won’t go into the plot too much because the absurdity, the jokes, the concepts read better than I could possible explain—as Clint Barton says, “well, when you say it like that it sounds stupid.” Let me just say that, by book’s end, Kate Bishop shoots five arrows at one time, blinds a couple of guys, and cracks wise about capitalism, while Clint Barton gets beat up, meets a new Swordsman, steals from robbers who were robbing robbers, and cracks wise. How can you turn that down?
Matt Fraction has become a very dependable writer in the realm of conceptual comics. Iron Fist, The Defenders, and Casanova all speak to Fraction’s understanding of genre, genre-bending, and storytelling. I’ve come to expect good stuff from him, so much so that I almost don’t have to read him to know the book’s probably going to be good (re: The Defenders). What sold me on picking up this book was David Aja’s artwork. Combine his innovative paneling and detailing with Matt Hollingsworth solid coloring and Chris Eliopoulos’ perfect lettering, and you have one of the most visually synchronized books on the stands. So much is happening on the first page alone that I spent a good while deconstructing every little detail. During the final action sequence, Hollingsworth washes Aja’s kinetic pencils with solid yellow, blue, or pink backgrounds (depending on the panel), and it produces one of the most visually fascinating segments I’ve seen in recent comics.
Eliopoulus recently tweeted about lettering and how it’s an underappreciated part of comics making. He has reason to be irked; his work on Hawkeye speaks to his understanding of the aesthetics of lettering, and the, mixed-case constructions are perfectly suited to David Aja’s style.
Buy this book. It’s so pretty. This series, along with Kelly Sue “Not Just Matt Fraction’s Wife” DeConnick’s Captain Marvel and Ed Brubaker’s Winter Soldier, is another entry in Marvel’s recent string of strong solo titles. Must be that North Western water or something. Now if we could just get a Howard the Duck series written by Hickman…