The Immortal Iron Fist is one of the best runs of the last decade. Writers Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction, with David Aja on art, took a C-list character and turned him into a superstar. Well, Fraction and Aja are going to try again. And if Hawkeye #1 is any indication, we might have another amazing run on our hands.
Hawkeye is one of the most well-known Avengers, but Hawkeye could be anything but a superhero comic. Fraction plants Clint Barton firmly on the streets of New York City, facing threats that are too small for the Avengers. He spends all but six panels out of his costume. The entire issue is Fraction giving the reader an understanding of what we should be expecting in this quirky series. The best way to describe #1 is a character study. Who is Clint Barton? Why is he such a formidable foe, even though he has zero powers? The story is simple, even with the multiple jumps in time. Fraction does rely on the word “bro” too much. It’s funny in the beginning, but it gets old by the end of the issue. The only thing that would be a mark against this issue is that it’s purpose isn’t clearly stated. It’s not a huge mark, as I have zero reasons to NOT pick up #2 next month.
What Hawkeye shows is that Fraction needs to be on a book with a single hero. His work on Uncanny and Defenders was/has been plagued by unevenness. Fraction can’t seem to give every person on the team enough time to shine. While Defenders has been a step in the right direction, Fraction will always be a better single hero series writer. With a single hero series, he fills every page with character work. Every text bubble gives you some clue as to how Fraciton is going to write Clint. It’s the type of issue that you put down and know that this series is going to be something special. It’s the same feeling I had after putting down Mark Waid and Paolo Rivera’s Daredevil #1. This is the type of book that Marvel needed to take a chance on. It’s a high-profile book, but something you can’t get in any other Marvel book. Let’s hope that Fraction can fix his team writing abilities by the fall, when he starts writing Fantastic Four and FF.
One of the big reasons that Hawkeye is brilliant is the beautiful work by David Aja. His thick line work gives the issue a real life look, while still firmly planted in a comic book. His facial work has improved since his time on Iron Fist and Secret Avengers. Aja’s panel usage on Iron Fist was nothing short of brilliance, and he continues that brilliance here. There are plenty of tiny panels, but they never feel cramped. They work as quick cuts in a movie. Much like Chris Samnee on Daredevil, this book is going to be really hard to review month after month, as I’m going to start running out of ways to say, “this art is brilliant.” To put it simply, if you’re not buying this series because of Matt Fraction writing, you should be buying this because of David Aja’s magnificent pencils.
Hawkeye is going to be a great series. Fraction and Aja prove that lightning can indeed strike twice.
Hawkeye #1 gets 4.5/5.