I am a really big fan of comic books – Marvel mostly. But because of law school and what not I’ve had to cut back on my readership. I’m a good two or three years behind on most things so when I was looking to get back into the game I found myself looking for a series that was easy to just jump into regardless of what had happened while I had stopped reading comics. I had seen little clips and images from the current ongoing Hawkeye on Tumblr and thought it looked interesting enough so I figured why not ?
What I found was possibly one of the greatest books ever.
Now, we all know Clint Barton. He’s Hawkeye – the original, male Hawkeye. He’s an Avenger. But this book isn’t really about all of that. Not really. It’s about the Clint no one really gets to see. It’s about the Clint who goes home to his crummy tenant building in the Bronx. It’s about the regular guy Clint Barton who just happens to hang out with superheroes as part of his day job. It’s about Clint just chillin’ with his protege Kate Bishop (also called Hawkeye) and basically just being witty and making some probably bad choices.
It’s also a fantastic character study on one of the most easily related to Avengers on the roster.
Sure we can probably relate to all the characters on the Avengers roster to some extent but Clint? Clint is basically us. Clint is the Avenger we could legitimately be if we just beefed up our archery skills and started channeling Katniss Everdeen. He’s a normal every day guy. No superpowers. No super healing. He falls and he gets hurt. In the first issue he spends like six weeks in the hospital because he falls off a building and lands on a car.
One of the best parts of the comic, too, is just how painfully aware of all that he is and how it weighs on him. He’s just a guy. A normal guy pretending to be a superhero. It’s not as great as it seems. And yet Clint Barton is one hell of a guy. He’s got a pretty wonky moral compass sometimes considering that once upon a time he was a carnie thief and actually kind of a villain for a little while there. But he still tries to do good. And while he’s off on his own adventures – often with Kate – you really get to see that. You get to see Clint. You get to see the person he really is when he’s not around all the other superheroes.
And man, does that guy have a bit of an Avengers complex. Like every time he does something wrong and gets chastised he’s always telling people about that and how when something happens he gets calls from people. Like Captain America. Who seriously brings out the best in everyone and when you disappoint him it’s like disappointing your grandmother or Jesus or something. But seriously.
So why do I love this series?
- The art style is gorgeous.
I love the simplicity of it and how they still manage to work in so many details. It’s diluted, plain, and brilliant. I don’t know what I love it – I just do. I like that it’s simple. Clint is a simple guy when you get right down to it and this is really the best way to portray him. It’s so Clint. Another thing that I really like is that they use a lot of purples and grays to hearken back to the traditional and flamboyant purple Hawkeye suit from the past. But it’s not flamboyant here. It’s added in the outfits Kate wears or – as in the pictures both above and below – the shirt Clint wears under his sweater or the hightops he’s wearing. They also add in a lot of t-shirts and such with classic bullseye symbols. It’s great. It’s clever. It’s clean. I love it.
- Kate Bishop rocks.
I used to be a really big fan of the Young Avengers. I probably still am – I just haven’t kept up with the series. Kate’s this sassy, wealthy trust-fund girl who wanted to prove herself and took up the mantle of Hawkeye during a period where Clint was dead. When he came back to life (because everyone in comics does at some point or another) he took up the identity of Ronin for a while and met up with Kate giving her his blessing to keep on using his old identity because she was a pretty damn good archer. Then when he became Hawkeye again he encouraged her to keep the name, too. So now they are both Hawkeye and the series is kind of about both of them. They’ve got a great relationship and it’s great to see how the two of them interact. Kate doesn’t take his shit and isn’t afraid to call him on it either. The back and forth between them and the mentor/mentee relationship is great because it’s pretty obvious most of the time whose really the more mature one of them.
- Clint’s Neighbors.
So Clint lives in some rundown tenant building in the Bronx because he’s not the wealthiest superhero and he takes pride in his being a normal guy. Later he comes into money and buys the place to keep out his Tracksuit Mafia nemeses and to keep a roof over the heads of everyone in the apartment complex. (More on them later.) So you’ve got all these little additional bit characters who get together and are kinda like a family in a lot of ways. They hang out up on the roof every night and grill out when its nice. There a few that come and go but one of the bigger ones is Simone – a single mother with two kids – whose the first to make Clint realize that he bought the building so he’s kind of their landlord now. And then there is Grill. Omg. Grill. That’s the guy above, btw. He’s just this average Joe, hilarious guy who is pretty much like anyone’s lazy, teddy bear uncle. Great guy. Pretty simple. But he’s got a heart of gold. They just sort of add to Clint’s little life and give him someone to care about and think about when he’s at risk of bringing his Avengers enemies back home with him.
- Lucky aka Pizza Dog.
Right, so, in the first issue, Clint gets himself dog. Lucky here (originally named Arrow but of course Clint wasn’t going to keep a name like that) saved Clint’s life and got thrown into traffic for his trouble. So Clint saves him and later takes him in. Honestly, he hasn’t done much in the series except be there. Every few frames at home and there’s Lucky just chillin’. Wagging his tail. Issue eleven is supposed to be all about Lucky, though. I haven’t gone down to my local comic book store yet to get it but yeah. Lucky is great. No super powers here. He just appreciated that Clint gave him a slice of pizza and saved his ass. Now he’s living the high life. Granted he had to sacrifice an eye for it but hey. It’s gotta be totally worth it.
- The Tracksuit Mafia Goons.
Yeah, so, while the rest of the Avengers seem to have all kinds of bad ass villains to tackle on their days off Clint gets the Tracksuit Mafia. It’s basically a bunch of Russian dudes to say ‘bro’ every second word (no, seriously, bro) and are basically your usual lower level bad guys. He also sort of pisses off some of his old carnie circus friends and a bunch of other common criminals in NYC because, you know, it’s Clint. He doesn’t think things through. But basically these guys are the main baddies and it gives the Hawkeye series a sort of humorous edge while also bringing it into a sort of low key street crime sort of world. It’s just the sort of thing that Clint would get himself into on his day off. None of that Avengers stuff. Just good, old fashion bad guys
- Clint’s Inner Monologue.
He’s just so casual so much of the time. It’s great. Basically if I were Hawkeye the sort of things he says are the sort of things that I would probably say. Nearly every issue starts with “This looks bad” and it generally is. When things happen that Clint just doesn’t really care to pay attention to or someone says things he doesn’t understand he always says something like [little kid talking] or [French… or maybe some Italian]. He has this ongoing little monologue where he narrarates everything and gets in a few witty jabs now and again. I really enjoy it.
- Avenger Cameos.
One of the reasons I really enjoy the brief Avengers cameos in this series are because I like seeing them in this style of artwork. When I say I enjoy the simplicity I mean it. It’s absolutely gorgeous. I also like the cameos because they aren’t really forced. One time it’s Hawkeye fighting with Spiderman and Wolverine. One time it’s Clint calling Tony Stark over to help him try and untangle Christmas decorations. At one point he gets abducted off the roof by SHIELD to deal with an issue. It’s just simple little things that would happen to a guy who was living a normal little life but also happened to be an Avenger. It’s just handled really, really well. Plus I love when Clint has to deal with just random Avengers stuff. Like getting called by Tony or Captain America when he does something wrong and reading the character and fitness clause of the Avengers contract. Oh, Clint.
- The Costume Redesign.
Lastly, I really like the costume redesign. It seems largely influenced by the Avengers movie and cuts back on the flamboyant purple Hawkeye is usually known for. Probably a good idea, too, because c’mon. That get up had so many frills and unnecessarily bits and pieces that it couldn’t have been very useful when it came to the whole fighting crime thing. This on the other hand is very tactical.
So yeah. I love the Hawkeye rebooted series and I think you will, too. I mean, just look at the panels I included and look at what I wrote. It’s easily one of the best books from the Marvel Now! renumbering reboot thing they did. If you’re going to pickup a first issue of anything – it’s gotta be Hawkeye. I’ll give you guys some other recommendations down the line but this one is going to hands down remain my number one recommendation.