(Apologies for missing yesterday’s post. I ended up catching a bit more rest than expected to battle the final legs of a slight cold. Don’t worry, I am over the worst. Consider this a reminder to stay safe and stay healthy, dear readers.)
The Marvel Universe is one that has been home to plenty of iconic characters. Spider-Man. The Incredible Hulk. Captain America. These names are ones that light up an image quick in the public eye, especially now with Marvel’s grand success in crafting a Cinematic Universe with their characters (well, at least those they own the film rights for). Indeed, these are the sort of superheroes that the average moviegoer or comics reader would know by heart. However, there are plenty of other Marvel heroes who offer great stories to read and enjoy. Perhaps they are heroes who are new additions to the Marvel Universe. Perhaps they have always been more niche characters, with odd elements to their personality or backstory. Maybe they’re just heroes who have always been around, but overshadowed to some degree by other heroes. Such is the case with Clint Barton, better known by his superhero alias of Hawkeye. Now, Marvel has had a new series devoted to the character that has made for a fun read.
For those unfamiliar with the character’s comic book origins, Clint Barton started life as an orphan who ran away from an orphanage to start a new life in a traveling carnival. Training under a skilled swordsman named Jacques Duquesne and a marksman named Buck Chisholm, Clint developed an uncanny skill in archery. Eventually, he became a star performer under the name of Hawkeye. However, his life as a circus performer wasn’t enough. Witnessing the heroics of Iron Man, Clint decides to take a crack at becoming a hero. Circumstances put him on the side of crime for a while, however, before Clint is finally able to clear his name and prove to the Avengers that he is serious about being a hero. Now, this series is not about Hawkeye’s time as a frequent member of the Avengers. In fact, this series is specifically centered around what he does when he is not busy being an Avenger. In this case, it means taking on special assignments for S.H.I.E.L.D., clearing out his neighborhood of criminals, or even taking on the odd supervillain. Helping him out is Kate Bishop, a skiller archer and rich girl who had once taken on the Hawkeye name when Clint Barton was active under the alias of Ronin. With her help, Clint takes on these assignments armed with his bow and arrows and a slight sense of snark.
Written by Matt Fraction, the current Hawkeye series is a title that is definitely worth picking up. The series is a fun read, exploring Clint’s work when he is not busy spending his time as an Avenger. The action is quick-paced, delivering striking visuals that help to high-light the risk and danger that Clint faces. The writing is also sharp, showcasing Clint as a streetwise hero who also grapples with having grown up and been trained to be a living weapon. It explores the rough world he works in, battling not the sort of high-level world conquerors who challenge the Avengers. His is a world where he fights street gangs and crime bosses, such as Madame Masque and the Ringmaster. Along with that, the series features a lot of clever touches that seem to nudge and acknowledge the comic book medium. Text that is in the background or generally not key the story can sometimes offer a joke or surprise, such as a newspaper headline that read Everything Awful Oh God Somebody Do Something. Whenever a foreign language is spoken, rather than the standard approach of a translation of their speech in parentheses, it simply notes the language being spoken in such forms as (French) or (Maybe some Spanish stuff). Touches like these offer a fun, reflexive element to the proceedings, while most humor that does crop up in this series comes from the characters themselves and the breezy tone that Fraction captures with ease.
On the whole, the series is worth checking out. It serves well as a story of a non-super superhero, one who isn’t battling grand supervillains with incredible superpowers but instead fighting gangs and mobs with a bow and arrows. It’s a great look as well at a hero who has always been known as part of the Avengers but frequently overlooked due to a roster that includes such major figures like Captain America and Iron Man. This series high-lights the skills, the charm, and the appeal of Clint Barton, the greatest marksman known to man. After all, there’s a reason a guy like him serves on a team that includes such impressive heroes. If you want to catch up on this series, there are four paperback volumes of Hawkeye available in stores.