So I took a quick swing out to my best and favorite local comic book shop, Buried Under, accompanied by a monstrous list of back issues I have been and will continue to diligently search for (a futile task, as for every one I cross off I add two more).
I nabbed a pretty sweet score, finally getting my hands on the apparently fantastic Mind the Gap#1 and 2, as well as the similar-in-tone Harvest, which just hit the shelves this week and is also getting some rave reviews. I was on the look-out for both Strange and Osborn….no luck on either, but the ever-helpful employees were confidant they could get both (in fact, Osborn was in the backroom somewhere….buried…..under comics hahahaaha). It was not at all a bust of course; I was pleasantly surprised to find they had all 6 issues of John Byrne’s extremely short-lived (if not excellent) run on Incredible Hulk. But we can talk aaaaall about John Byrne’s volatile career/personality some other time. And also; Doktor Sleepless! Because I have finally accepted that they can’t publish the rest of that series in trade form because there are too few issues and Warren Ellis has put it on hiatus. I decided to stop myself there and leave some of the other titles on my list for another day….
But enough about my inability to control myself in comic book stores!
The point of this post was I wanted to say that of all the comics I bought today, the only one I have read so far was Hawkeye #1…and I’ve got to say, first impressions are quite good.
Now, I am of course coming from a place of really having no experience with Hawkeye…and even longtime Marvel fans are often pretty indifferent to the purple-festooned archer (actually, I have seen a lot of comics fans who franklyhate him). So I am largely a clean slate, knowing only the basic history and premise of the character, and the movieverse version of him, of course. That said, I really enjoyed this Clint Barton. Matt Fraction sucks you in immediately with a down-to-earth, snarky, but likable and mature version of the character. The whole premise of the comic is based on the idea of Hawkeye being “the Avenger who is Just a Dude” and what he is doing while he’s not saving the world with the Avengers (seriously, it says this on the inside credits page).
I’m not gonna lie; I LOVE the angle of exploring what it is like being a superhero when you’re….not really a superhero. Hawkeye hangs around with all these crazy, super-humans who have magical healing abilities and super strength and hi-tech armor and all kinds of bullshit….and yes, he holds his own (which is all the more impressive!) but at the end of the day….he’s just a dude. A dude who can end up in the hospital from what is, comparatively, a minor accident, for instance.
Fraction writes Hawkeye just the way I hoped he would, and his story-telling methodology is appropriately mundane, and yet still features Barton being, well, heroic. The art is equally nice….it’s somewhat simple, but it has strong design sensibilities that many artists lack.
I know a lot of people complained that not a lot happens in this first issue, and I can understand where they are coming from with that; and certainly this first issue is not perfect…but I think it is a solid start, and it has me curious to see where it will go. If anything, it succeeds at investing me in the hero as a person, and not just as a vehicle for the action: I want to read more to see what CLINT does, what trouble he gets into, and how he reacts to things….not just to see fights and actions and explosions merely for the sake of themselves.
Hawkeye has always been a hard sell, but I think Marvel is in a really good position to bring the character to a new audience and maybe endear him to some of the old skeptics. At the very least, it’s a really enjoyable new series and I highly recommend it to anyone in the least bit interested in Hawkeye, Marvel comics, or just decent comics in general!