With the Disney Plus series Hawkeye underway (first and second episodes now available and reviewed – third due very soon!), I thought it was a great time to go back and revisit the beginning of the series that’s provided so much inspiration for Clint Barton’s new show. Of course, it’s not just Barton’s show – in fact, it’s a bit more about getting Kate Bishop into the MCU right now, but with this first issue of Hawkeye’s series, Bishop hasn’t yet made an appearance.
Clint Barton – when not being an Avenger – lives in an apartment building run by Eastern European gangsters in matching tracksuits, who want to sell the building and displace everyone who lives in it. Tripling the rent to push out the desperate residents, they don’t care that everyone is going to be homeless. Barton puts a plan in motion to buy the building from the Tracksuit Mafia, but despite having plenty of money to do so, the gangsters have other plans. Add a cute, unloved dog into the mix, along with a desperate medical situation, and we have a seriously packed opening issue.
Matt Fraction writes like a man possessed, his narrative bouncing backwards and forwards in time, with cracking dialogue and a great series of ground level action scenes – not to mention some genuinely compelling and suspenseful scenes with the aforementioned ‘Pizza Dog’ that’ll have readers on the edge of their seats. David Aja’s art is absolutely phenomenal, helped along by a controlled, fairly muted and consistent colour scheme from Matt Hollingsworth. It’s a genuinely phenomenal start for the Hawkeye solo series, which absolutely became the defining run for the character.
As mentioned in my Hawkeye Disney Plus reviews, it does leave a bit of a sour taste that the creatives behind the show have so clearly based the content and style of the streaming series on this comic without Aja being properly credited or compensated. Fraction is listed as a Consulting Producer which will presumably lead to him being properly remunerated, but without Aja’s art, the phenomenal title sequences simply wouldn’t exist in their current form. Hopefully that situation changes sooner rather than later.
Fans of the TV show – and even Hawkeye in general – are going to find an awful lot to like in the 2012 comic run; it all starts here. Even those less familiar with Hawkeye will find that Barton’s very grounded, non-superheroic adventures are incredibly relatable, instantly engaging and brilliantly executed. It’s never too late to catch up with Fraction and Aja’s Hawkeye comics; but why wait?
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