Full disclosure: I nearly cried reading this book. Twice.

Full disclosure: I nearly cried reading this book. Twice.

Hawkeye #7

Written by Matt Fraction

Art by Steve Lieber & Jesse Hamm

Colors by Matt Hollingsworth

Letters by Chris Eliopoulos

Review by Joey Braccino

Okay. This… This comic… You need to go buy this comic right now.

Just this afternoon, on my way home from work, I was thinking about art and its uncanny ability to get me to empathize in such a way that real-life sometimes just can’t. Sometimes, real-life—there’s too much baggage and effort in reality that prevents us from truly grasping the gravity of any given situation in the moment or, alternately, the very simple truth of a truly devastating moment.

New Jersey is my home. My family, my students, my friends—New Jersey and New York through and through. This past Fall, we all endured one of the most devastating storms in recent history. Hurricane Sandy pummeled the North Eastern corridor nigh into submission and left millions of people in the dark for weeks. Some people in some of the worst-hit areas are still living without heat, without homes, and, tragically, without hope.

And yet, for most of us, we have been able to return to our “everyday” lives over the last few months. And, with that return, a fading memory of candles, water-logged basements, and toppled mailboxes. And, unfortunately, a fading awareness of the thousands that still are clearing out uninhabitable homes, waiting for resources and just-approved reparation funds, and the lasting, immeasurable impact Sandy had and will have on our communities.

Hawkeye #7, like only art can, takes all of the complexity of Hurricane Sandy and its impact and synthesizes it into two intertwined, emotionally resonant narratives. This is a comic done right. In its simplicity, Hawkeye #7 tells a story that connects directly and irrevocably with its reader.

Out of all the Marvel books on the stands, Hawkeye’s street-level focus provides the perfect outlet to explore the storm and its aftermath. This is not a story about superheroes stopping a wall of water with pulsar beams or super-strength. That would be disingenuous and offensive. Instead, Matt Fraction and Company have shuffled their publishing schedule around so that they could take the opportunity to tell not one, but two grounded stories about Hurricane Sandy.

First, Clint Barton helps one of his tenants tend to a house on Far Rockaway just as the storm hits. Second, Kate Bishop ventures into a devastated Atlantic City in search of medication for a friend. In the first tale, Fraction explores all of the pain, grief, and loss that the storm caused; in the other, he delves into the power of community in its aftermath. Again, like only art can, Fraction simplifies a terrible, terrifying moment in our collective consciousness into a few ideas that resonate with those that can sympathize and, most importantly, those that can empathize.

Fear. Loss. Gratitude. Community. Strength.

These are the ideas that underpin this issue of Hawkeye. These are the ideas that connect all of our personal experiences with Sandy, whether we live in the storm’s impact zone or not.

Steve Lieber’s artwork is a dead ringer for David Aja’s award-winning pencils. Innovative panel lay-outs and naturalistic linework; tight perspective shots mixed with wide cinematic cuts. It’s absolutely gorgeous, and it perfectly captures the complexities and emotiveness of the first section of the book. Jesse Hamm’s artwork has a more kinetic, pop-inspired bent to it. The sacrifice in naturalism, however, is fitting considering the shift in perspective from the more grounded Clint Barton to the younger, more spirited Kate Bishop. Lieber and Hamm step up for this issue, lending Fraction’s emotionally resonant script with apropos imagery and illustration.

Verdict

Buy it. Please. These stories may be fiction, but they capture a moment in time that we cannot forget. Not necessarily because the trauma that these characters endure matches our own, but rather because we cannot forget the neighbor who lent a hand, the shop owner who donated food, the family that lost everything. With Hawkeye #7, Matt Fraction tells the story of Hurricane Sandy, and, in doing so, he documents all of our stories at once.

PS – As the letters section reveals, a portion of the proceeds from Hawkeye #7′s sales will be going to the Red Cross.

 

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4 Responses

  1. Walt

    This was the first Hawkeye that I read (and as a resident of coastal central NJ that hid in my basement from the winds and went days without power (we were the lucky ones with no flooding or real damage and were up and running in a week) I love the donation aspect of this issue). I also bought Hawkeye 6 this week too. Wow. All the praise that I heard about Fraction’s work on this is well-deserved. Amazing range of emotions in issue 7.

    The humor throughout issue 6 was surprising (I don’t know if that’s the word I really want to convey it – it’s just I wasn’t prepared to laugh that much reading this – “We Are The 99% Percent!” “No you arent. Shut Up!”)

    I plan on catching up with the trade in March and adding Hawkeye to my pick list.

  2. Travis McCollum

    Dearly loved this issue. Then again I love this series as whole. But still, I’m glad Fraction and co. could put out such a touching, funny and enjoyable issue that dealt with a real world issue. Great review Joey

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