6.) Hawkeye (Marvel) 2012 – present — by Matt Fraction and David Aja with a few guest artists here and there.
Now, I’m not going to let my infatuation with Jeremy Renner and his guest appearance in the episode “Somnambulist” of Angel and subsequent Hurt Locker and Avengers awesomness affect my disposition here…BUT I TOTALLY AM.
Like many people, I didn’t give the character Hawkeye much thought until he was played by the extremely charismatic Jeremy Renner in one of my favorite movies, which is probably why I picked up Hawekeye: My Life as a Weapon when I saw it at the comic store.
Boy, howdy, is this a fantastic comic. It’s part of the Marvel Now! series (sort of like the new 52 a la DC, but instead of revamping everyone’s plot, it’s more of just a modern take on some classic heroes with new artists and some reconning and what have you.) It follows the everyday life of Clint Barton aka Hawkeye, and his partner/sidekick/non-‘love’ interest Kate Bishop aka Hawkeye and Pizza Dog when Clint is not part of the Avengers and is just hanging out, fighin’ hurricanes, rescuing his neighbors and getting in trouble with the local Russian mob.
Hawkeye is at his normal-dude best as he struggles with his new-found popularity as an Avenger, like needing Tony’s Stark’s help to set up his DVD player. He’s not too bright, not too strong, is a dead-shot for archery sure, but is a highly relatable normal guy who wants to do the right thing, but sometimes does wrong and that’s okay too.
The artwork is probably one of my favorites, next to Mignola’s Hellboy. The color scheme is muted, very 60s mod (as are the fashions and feel of the entire series), and so minimalist, it’s amazing that such emotion can be conveyed through just a simple small frame of Barton’s unimpressed face.
The comic is self-aware, in that Barton is narrating and, instead of having someone speak Spanish in a speech bubble, it says, “Something Spanish?” Or, my favorite: when a naked Clint Barton (the stories always start with him saying how he didn’t mean to get himself into a bad situation, it just happens) flies out of a bed, it’s censored by the old-timey Hawkeye face that they would put on the front of the comics to let you know who was in them. This sort of brilliance and post-modernism is a rare treat in a medium that sometimes doesn’t realize its own ridiculousness. It’s refreshing to have a comic that understands what is it and what it isn’t. No, this isn’t highfalutin modern art, but that’s not what it’s trying to be. (But I would still pay money to see some of those panels in a museum, that’s how much I’m in love with this art.)
It’s alternatingly hilarious and heart-breaking. Very rarely does a comic have so much character building with so few words or panels, but did I ever get attached to Hawkeye’s neighbor “Grills.” Or, even, his dog, who has an entire issue from his perspective. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME A COMIC ALLOWED ITSELF TO BE NARRATED BY A DOG? And still have a dang good issue, in spite of (or perhaps because of) that?
Simply put: Hawkeye is masterful at storytelling in its many altering perspectives and is a great comic for those who know and love the archer well, and for those looking to break into comics.
Of course, there’s backstory between Barton and Bishop, but it isn’t necessary to have read any Hawkeye comics before this, since most of the past can be understood through their current interactions. And there aren’t any other Avengers, not really, though cameos do pop up (like Spider-man and Wolverine), and that could distance some, but this comic isn’t called Avengers, it’s called Hawkeye.