Wednesday, March 23, 2016

CBR:Quickies Matt Fraction's Hawkeye

Back in my "DC years", I used to mock the character and call him Purple Arrow.

Now he's basically the best character in Marvel's entire library! Thanks Obama Matt Fraction.

Bro. Bro! BRO. Seriously, bro. Bro, check out these following reviews, bro. Bro! Brobrobrobro:

If you ever told me Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye would one day become one of my favorite superheroes... I would have never believed that.

Hawkeye is no newcomer to comics, long before the character made it on screen on big budget Hollywood films, he was actually a creation of writer Stan Lee and artist Don Heck. And would you believe it, as a villain in Tales of Suspense #57 (1964!). The character would eventually join the Avengers in Avengers #16 (1965). And the rest is history. Being part of the Earth's Mightiest Heroes brought the character to fame before he was ever portrayed by Jeremy Renner in the MCU and he's had a pretty long comic book history, being a key part of the fan favorite run of the West Coast Avengers.

This past decade, Marvel's finally been pushing more creative and unique books in the forefront.

In August 2012 was launched an Hawkeye ongoing series (the 4th title to his name to date!), penned by one of my favorite current writers at Marvel, Matt Fraction. A great writer who's had some great runs on books such as The Invincible Iron Man, Immortal Iron Fist, Fantastic Four and Uncanny X-Men. But Hawkeye is easily now his most iconic and smartest writing he's done.

Teaming up with artist David Aja originally, this series easily was one of the most unique "mainstream" superhero books out there. So atypical and unlike any other series (at least for mainstream superhero comics).

The series follow our everyman hero Hawkguy. Who finally gets to be the star of a series and not just support. Along his partner/sidekick/protege Kate Bishop. A.k.a. Hawkeye too.

Comic title: Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon
Written by Matt Fraction
Illustrated by David Aja & Javier Pulido
Format: Trade paperback collecting Hawkeye Vol. 4 #1-5 and Young Avengers Presents #6.

Clint Barton became the greatest sharpshooter known to man, then joined the Avenger. When he's not avenging, this is what he does.. That is, being beaten up and ending with his legs broken. One day Clint saves a dog from the Russian mob. They've been hassling the tenants from this old building. Since they keep raising the rent to kick the people out, Clint tries to buy the building from them.

What about our second Hawkeye? She is Kate Bishop. She took over for Clint once upon a time, when he was busy playing ninja. A gifted bowman like Clint.

They are Hawkeye and Hawkeye.

Our Hawkeyes face Ringmaster. Get to learn about the practicability of the boomerang arrow.

Also, after that S.H.I.E.L.D. enlists the help of Hawkeye to get back a tape containing pictures of one of the Avengers killing someone...! But the Avengers don't kill?! This puts our duo in the crosshair of... Madame Masque!

This first volume also reprints one of Kate Bishop's essential Young Avengers issues - well, the entire YA run is a recommended read, but it's nice to have this older issue tie things up. It's from that time Clint was running around dressed as "Ronin". Kate goes on a date with Patriot. She finds out Clint Barton is still alive, and he's finally able to properly give her the Hawkeye mantle... well, it's not like she was already worthy enough all along!

Overall: The beginning of this run quickly established the tone of things to come. Easily one of the best superhero series you can read out there!

It's such a fantastic spectacular series, a really enjoyable read from beginning to end. Highly Recommended for any Marvel fans or even newcomers to the medium. This is the perfect book for both long-time fans and people making the jumps to comics for the first time.

It all begins on such a strong note, it's a very unique book. With a great strong characterization for our duo of Hawkfolk.

David Aja's artwork quickly establishes the tone of the book. The art is gorgeous. Brilliant. Sort of reminiscent of David Mazzucchelli’s work on Batman: Year One. They put a lot of effort in this minimalist approach, with high contrasts. Avoiding the usual hyper-realistic of most main Marvel and DC books. It's lovely and unique storytelling.  Several other artists would follow, but they would always follow Aja's pattern for the series. Javier Pulido takes over for the Madame Masque storylines.

I love the quips. Hawkeye is not just a joke but one of Marvel's most relatable character out there. Only Matt Fraction could make something out of a gang of Russian mobsters dressed in jumpsuits that speak in "bros" every couple of words. The book's hilarious! Where it truly shines it's in all the little moments Hawkeye is not out there being a superhero off with the rest of the Avengers.

Kate Bishop's Hawkeye is equally awesome and worthy of the title. She has as much wit and charm as Clint Barton, although often serving as a more serious role. The book is as much both's. And let's not forget the real s star here: Lucky, a.k.a. "Pizza Dog"!

I give this one a: 3 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Hawkeye, Vol. 2: Little Hits
Written by Matt Fraction
Illustrated by David Aja, Francesco Francavilla, Annie Wu, Steve Lieber & Jesse Hamm
Format: Trade paperback collecting Hawkeye Vol. 4 #6-11.

Hawkguy is back!

A storm just hit the city really bad. Clint decides to help his neighbor "Grills", but then a really bad flood overwhelms them. Meanwhile in the other part of town it's just as bad. Kate gets to help people.

Then we have the Christmas special issue! Following a week in the daily life of Clint Barton (mostly around his time on the Avengers as we get closer to the holidays).

After that, love is in the air as Clint is visited by several of his exes - Black Widow, Mockingbird and Spider-Woman - while getting mixed with a mysterious red-haired woman with as much problems with the Russian mob as his own building.

Somewhere else, various New York City criminals get together and discuss their current issue with "Hawkguy" and "Lady Hawkman". They're forced to move Clint from his building at all cost to get rid of the people in there. They set this psycho - "the Clown" - after him.

And we're finally treated to my favorite issue in the entire run. Starring noneother than Lucky, the "Pizza Dog"! With no real dialogues to speak off, only from the point of view of a dog that sees things by association and familiarity.

Things come to head together as poor Grills is killed by the Clown,  Clint is forced to stay put in the building and keep an eye on things and Kate decides to run off with our favorite Pizza Dog to California.

Overall: Volume 2 is another solid entry in the series. These are some of the most gorgeous of the entire series.

We get some great and unique storytelling. Matt Fraction loves to play with the medium and experiment within the series. The Christmas and the Pizza Dog issues are classic.

I give this one a: 3 / 3 Score! 

Comic title: Hawkeye, Vol. 3: L.A. Woman
Written by Matt Fraction
Illustrated by Javier Pulido & Annie Wu
Format: Trade paperback collecting Hawkeye Vol. 4 #14, 16, 18, 20, Annual #1.

The Kate Bishop volume!

Kate was sick of the other Hawkeye's drama, so she went to L.A. with the dog.

Somehow, she immediately finds herself having to deal with noneother than Madame Masque on her own! Madame Masque makes a complex scheme to get close to Kate and trap her in sight... But who's observing who here!?

While living on the beach, Kate befriends different people. She try putting her service out there to help people in need and sort of offer detective services to all kinds of folk.

Overall: This was another great solid volume!

Originally the issues where published alternatively jumping back and forth between Clint and Kate's storylines. It's nice to have both stories recut in a proper linear read for the trade.

Honestly as great as the entire series was, this probably is my favorite volume out of the entire run. This whole arc with Kate off the coast, outside usual superhero stories is such a nice breath of fresh air.

I loved how Kate even had this mini cartoony version of her commenting her thoughts.

We get some great stories out of Kate's trip, she meets various unique and interesting characters during her journey.

I give this one a: 3 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Deadpool vs. Hawkeye 
Written by Gerry Duggan
Illustrated by Matteo Lolli & Jacopo Camagni
Format: Trade paperback collecting Deadpool vs. Hawkeye #0-4.

The Merc with the Mouth meets the guy with the bow and arrows!

Our heroes cross path on Halloween in Brooklyn. Deadpool went trick-or-treating with his close friends and family (long story - read the excellent run of Deadpool by Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan!). Clint Barton's been suffering from his ears so he stayed home tonight. He opens the door to Deadpool and co.

Someone gets shot, but not before some USB drive to our heroes. Our "Dadpool" is forced to leave his daughter Ellie to go on an adventure with "his pal" Hawkeye!

People dressed as heroes have been committing violent attacks. They've been brainwashed! Who can our heroes trust? Well, Kate Bishop, of course! Kate drops in on our heroes and meets Deadpool for the first time. Sorry, Kate!

There's plenty of great parodies of Matt Fraction's Hawkeye series from Deadpool's perspective. Deadpool is forced to live the quirkiness of Fraction's world, such as waiting for the Pizza Dog to solve the entire crime.

And who's behind it all? Well, Black Cat, of course! People have been reprogrammed by her... In fact, they even got to Clint!!

Overall: Hawkeye, Hawkeye and Deadpool, kicking ass and taking names!

I can only call this Hawkeye series review complete if I mentioned this miniseries!

This crossover is fun, with a ton of humor, action, adventure and even some great suspense as it all comes down to blows between our different heroes.

This story is perfectly crafted by Gerry Duggan, and just about a perfect parody and perfectly in tone with the rest of Matt Fraction's run.

It also serves as a nice breather before the epic finale. It works as a sort of parody of the main Hawkeye series while still respecting its rules and format.

We have a great creative team aboard, with some gorgeous artwork by Matteo Lolli & Jacopo Camagni. It's simply a well done crossover between these two titles and characters that have nothing in common. And it works so well!

For some reason there's also this totally random parody of uber, ooper, used throughout the entire miniseries... It's completely random, but I loved it. It's so stupid, but hilarious.

Some great character moments. Enough scenes kept to introduce and give some time for the supporting cast on both series. And Kate and Deadpool work off each other so well!

I give this one a: 3 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Hawkeye, Vol. 4: Rio Bravo
Written by Matt Fraction
Illustrated by Chris Eliopoulos, David Aja & Francesco Francavilla
Format: Trade paperback collecting Hawkeye Vol. 4 #12-13, #15, #17, #19, #21-22.

The final volume!

Our last book opens with a Winter Special cartoon parody featuring Lucky as a sort of Hawkeye stand-in, complete with his own dog!Kate partner. We have all these animals playing out roles of the Avengers. It's a nice change of pace, a great comment on the role of Hawkeye in the larger Marvel Universe.

Clint's brother Barney Barton comes to town. A former "fake" Avenger a long while ago, in the past he's been a carnie, a crook, an FBI agent and even a villain! The last time Clint saw him was when he needed a bone marrow donation to save his eyesight. Cllint gets some timely help from Barney to protect his building. The Russian mob was able to catch him with his pants down - literally!

Clint ends up deaf from both ears for a short, which offers us some great original comic book sequences.

All the way through we get some fantastic flashback scenes.

Finally the mob organizes one last raid, but all the tenants make a stand to help Clint face them. And Kate comes back just in time!

The series closes as both Hawkeyes are seen practicing their art.

Overall: This was a very strong and powerful finale.

With a lot of great stories, tensions and emotion.

I can't believe how long we all waited for this last issue to come out, there have been so many delays, it caused the entire Hawkeye series to actually end after its successor was already launched! (See more on that, below.)

All in all, it was a great way to conclude this great series. A Clint Barton/Kate Bishop comic book series.

I give this one a: 2.5 / 3 Score!

Matt Fraction's Hawkeye was a fantastic series. A comic unlike any other out there.

At times, almost deconstructing the medium and the genre. Scott McCloud would be proud.

It works nicely as a great gateway book into Marvel Comics.

The series is followed by a new book from Sweet Tooth creator, Jeff Lemire. All-New Hawkeye. Which actually began in March 2015, as the last issue of Matt Fraction's Hawkeye wasn't even released! It mostly keeps the same type of stories and tone intact.

But it won't be the same. I will definitively miss Matt Fraction's book.


That's all for this time's Quickies!

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