Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Francesco Francavilla
Letters by Chris Eliopoulos & VC’s Clayton Cowles
Review by Joey Braccino
After last issue’s devastating cliffhanger (which, according to the recap page, the production team is still pretty sad about), Hawkeye #10 delves into the background of our mystery assassin. Matt Fraction bounces his story between a chic party hosted by Kate Bishop’s father and flashback sequences featuring the tragic history of Kazimierz Kazimierczak. You’ll notice that Clint Barton isn’t mentioned on either of those two poles. Our eponymous Hawkguy appears briefly at the end of the issue #10, which instead focuses on Kate and Kazi (as his American Friends call him). It’s an interesting issue that departs from the expected on-the-streets heroic fare that Hawkeye has become known for, but the change of pace does not hinder the quality of the storytelling or the emotional resonance of the characters.
Kazi’s descent into supervillainy is just as tragic as it needs to be to garner a modicum of sympathy for the clown-faced killer. I’ll refrain from going too much further into the plot here so as to avoid spoilers, but I will say that the juxtaposition of the flashback sequences with Kazi’s conversation with Kate Bishop lends the issue the perfect amount of tension and dramatic irony. As the flashbacks become increasingly violent and terrifying, the concern over Kazi’s interest in Kate (and Kate’s over-confidence in flirting with Kazi) grows. Fraction walks the line between suspense and exposition perfectly.
The star of this issue is Francesco Francavilla. Don’t get me wrong; I adore the regular art team of David Aja and Matt Hollingsworth, but I’m also a huge fan of the underexposed Francavilla. His hard-boiled pulp stylings blends horror with noir into a stunning and, at times, unnerving aesthetic. Francavilla’s trademark blood orange color palette is perfectly suited to the depravity of Kazi’s story. The use of color in this issue in general is inspiring; Kate Bishop is coated in a strong violet, Kazi is masked in an pallid blue-grey, the panels in general are plastered with violent reds, firey yellows, and abrasive blues. It’s a visual roller coaster.
Buy. Hawkeye #10 may be a departure from the usual mood and aesthetic of Fraction’s critically-acclaimed ongoing series, but it’s amazing nonetheless. The structure of the narrative and the innovative visual aesthetic come together in a devastating and suspenseful tragedy, setting up what should be an emotionally nuanced battle of wills between this new villain and our eponymous hero!