In the first of what would turn out to be many “Marvel Now” reboots, Matt Fraction and David Aja brought us their take on the world’s greatest marksman. This all-star creative team breathed new life into Clint Barton, imbuing the book with a strong sense of style and swagger. Sure, Fraction and Aja’s “Hawkeye” had all the trimmings of a super-hero book, but it stood out for its focus on Clint’s personal life. And boy, did it get personal.
Clint’s romantic entanglements and social life, as well as his complex relationship with Kate Bishop, all took centre stage as we navigated his tire-fire of a life. In short, Fraction and Aja turned him into a regular dude with a bow and arrow; also there were some laughs. Lots of laughs. So, strap yourselves in as CBR looks back at some of the highlights from Fraction and Aja’s run on “Hawkeye.”
15. FIX THIS DOG
It only seems fair to start this list where Fraction and Aja’s iconic run of “Hawkeye” began; with Clint yelling “fix this dog.” In the opening pages of the series’ first issue, a drenched and desperate Clint places the body of a sick dog onto the reception desk at a veterinary clinic. Only three pages in, the scene was disorienting but managed to ground the book in the real and mundane. In this scene Fraction and Aja make it very clear that this book is not about Clint saving the world with the Avengers, it is about what he does in his downtime.
As well as setting the tone, this scene also introduced us to Lucky, aka Pizza Dog. The unofficial third member of Team Hawkeye, along with Clint and Kate, Lucky would eventually get his own issue, but more on that later. What is important now is that Fraction and Aja’s “Hawkeye” kicks-off with a broken man desperately trying to fix a broken dog. A sad and confusing moment, sure, but one that is ultimately very human.
14. S.H.I.E.L.D SHOWS UP
In one of this “Hakweye” run’s more grandiose moments, a relaxed afternoon BBQ is crashed by S.H.I.E.L.D. Instead of simply sending in some agents or a car to pick Hawkeye up, Maria Hill does something much more over-the-top; she “extracts” Clint from the BBQ with the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier. Yep, it is certainly anything but subtle, but when have super-hero comics ever been subtle?
There is something special about the look on Clint’s face when he glances up from cooking sausages to see the giant helicarrier floating above his apartment building. It is more then just a fun scene, it brings Clint’s two lives side-by side and shows the difference in scale between them: his life as the regular dude next door literally eclipsed by his life as one of earth’s mightiest heroes. To make matters worse, the helicarrier shows up a few seconds after Clint finishes scolding one of his neighbours for referring to him as an Avenger. Talk about Irony!
13. THE WINTER FRIENDS
When Clint wasn’t being emotionally self destructive or getting the living snot beat out of him by the tracksuit mafia, “Hawkeye” was actually a really fun book. Packed with witty dialogue and a generous helping of whimsy, Clint’s life certainly had its lighter moments. One such moment happened in “Hawkeye” #17 when series letterer– Chris Eliopoulos — took over art duties to bring us “The MBC Wintertime Winter Friends Fun Special.”
Eliopoulos’ charming artwork was perfect for “Hawkeye’s” very own holiday special. Although it was meant to be about a group of holiday-powered heroes called the “Winter Friends,” the animated special was actually about Steve the dog who — surprise, surprise — was actually a thinly-veiled stand-in for Hawkeye. Through the holiday special, Fraction is able to delve further into the character of Hawkeye. Clint’s anxiety about his lack of powers, his self-defeating attitude and his inability to accept help are all explored in this animated special the whole family can enjoy!
12. GREAT AT BOATS
One of the greatest strengths of Fraction and Aja’s time on “Hawkeye” was the book’s fun banter and sharp sense of comedic timing. The comic’s dialogue really stood out, featuring a constant back and fourth that mimicked shows like “Archer.” In the hands of Fraction, Clint always had something funny to say, regardless of how dire or serious the circumstance was.
A perfect example of this is at the end of “Hawkeye” issue #2 when Clint and Kate need to make a quick escape. After a violent tangle with a dangerous crime syndicate posing as a circus, Clint and Kate steal a boat to use as a getaway vehicle. While fleeing for their lives, Clint remarks “I’m great at boats.” In a hilarious call-back, Fraction repeats this joke in “Hawkeye” #7 when Clint helps his neighbour Grills escape rising floodwater. The way Clint’s eyes light up with glee when he realizes he gets to operate a boat again — even if it is just a row boat this time — is pure comedy gold.
11. CAUGHT WITH HIS PANTS DOWN
In the world of Fraction and Aja’s “Hawkeye,” Clint isn’t just a little bit disorganised, his life is in complete and utter chaos. Clint getting the crap beat out of him or being threatened by thugs are all common occurrences during the series’ 22 issues and act as external representations of Clint’s inner dysfunction. With this in mind, it is not at all surprising that “Hawkeye” issue #15 opens with Clint being held at gunpoint. Did we mention that his pants are also down when this happens? Because they totally were.
With his purple boxers on full display, Clint is threatened by four armed members of the so-called tracksuit mafia. Standing there with his hands up and his pants down, you couldn’t help but feel sorry for poor old Hawkguy. Well, that is, until his brother Barney saves him by using a trashcan lid like a lethal frisbee along with some down-and-dirty fisticuffs!
10. KATE’S GREAT ESCAPE
In the first “Hawkeye Annual,” Clint and his protege Kate go their separate ways. Sick of Clint’s drama, self-destructive tendencies and refusal to accept help, she leaves his dysfunctional life for LA. Much to Clint’s annoyance, Lucky also goes with her. Although Kate leaves to get away from the chaos Clint seems to attract, it is not long before she is attracting chaos of her own. This mainly comes in the form of Whitney Frost, an alias of the super-villain Madame Masque.
After finding herself stuck in Madame Masque’s fancy west-coast mansion, Kate attempts to escape in her purple convertible, before crashing her car in the mansion’s garage. Trapped in the mansion and restrained by Madame Masque’s squad of goons, Kate makes an explosive escape. Using a remote control dongle that looks like a car key, she sets off an entire quiver of Clint’s famous exploding arrows! Kate emerges from the explosion and takes her leave, all while planning her revenge on Madame Masque.
9. CLINT’S DVR
The “Hawkeye” Christmas special revolves around Clint trying to hook up his DVR player so he can catch up on “Dog Cops” over the holidays. Like everything else in his life, Clint’s DVR is a disorganized mess of tangled cables and cords. Not to be beaten by his piece of obsolete technology, he calls in Tony Stark to help him out. No one’s better with technology than Iron-Man, right?
What follows is a hilarious exchange in which Clint and Tony try and fix the DVR but have no success. Eventually, Tony offers to take Clint shopping and buy him a new television and DVR set, in what is possibly the most Tony Stark solution to a problem! Clint refuses to give up on his old DVR and television, insisting that he can figure it out and get it to work. Surprise, surprise, in a move we came to expect from Fraction and Aja’s “Hawkeye,” the DVR is actually a metaphor for Clint’s life. If he can get it to work then maybe, just maybe, he can salvage the rest of his life.
8. KATE’S COVERT MISSION
Kate Bishop’s time in LA — brilliantly illustrated by artist Annie Wu — saw the second Hawkeye go up against Madame Masque. As part of her one-woman war on the masked super-villain, Kate hatches a plan to break into Masque’s office and end her tirade of crime once and for all. Unfortunately for Kate, the only way to get in is not exactly… sanitary.
Kate infiltrates Madame Masques office by attending one of her super creepy “Sushi Girl Parties” as — you guessed it — a titular “Sushi Girl.” Masquerading as a human sushi platter, Kate sneaks into the party covered in sushi, sashimi and flowers. Fortunately, before the old business men who attend such parties can start eating, Kate breaks character and scolds them. While getting up from he table, Kate remarks “You should be ashamed, I’m old enough to be your daughter’s super cool and just a little bit worldly younger awesome friend!” Kate’s sass-soaked words manage to take a potentially icky scene and instead infuse it with some of her signature attitude.
7. ARCHERY PRACTICE
After all the chaos that was the last two issues of “Hawkeye,” the final scene of Fraction and Aja’s run on the series acted as a peaceful, almost cathartic counterpoint. Over three largely silent pages, Clint and Kate practice their archery skills. Beautifully drawn by Aja, this short scene carried a surprising amount of weight. After their falling out and falling apart, the two Hawkeyes were friends again, bonding over the one thing that brought them together in the first place: archery.
The scene was delightfully organic, like the whole series was leading to this simple moment. Stylized and cinematic, the short scene brought all the book’s visual motifs together one last time. It’s simple, stunning and sad all at once. Sure, Clint and Kate will continue to live on in the Marvel Universe, but this would probably be the last time Fraction and Aja would be working on the pair together.
6. JERK DU SOLEIL
“Hawkeye” was a book that hit the ground running, providing plenty of explosive action right from the get-go. The series’ second issue is no exception, bombarding the reader with gritty and chaotic action when Clint and Kate go up against an evil circus. Dubbed “Jerk Du Soleil” by Kate, the troupe of performers was actually a group of super-thieves who specialized in robbing from the ultra-rich.
The criminal carnies would induce hypnotic paralysis in their audience and then rob them blind while they were helpless to do anything. Kate and Clint, however, come prepared with what we can only assume are some sort of trance-proof glasses. What follows is a flurry of fists and arrows as the two Hawkeyes shoot, punch and tackle their way through the army of circus performers. Although a great story in its own right, this issue would have been worth it alone for the wonderfully lame pun: “Jerk Du Soleil.” Classic.
5. BOOMERANG ARROW
When they weren’t busy pulling Clint’s life apart piece-by-piece, Fraction and Aja spent their time on Hawkeye playing around with the idea of a powerless superhero. Although a world-renowned archer, “Hawkeye” spent most of his time being a normal dude with normal dude problems. Sure, Clint has perfect aim, but what use is that when your ex-wife shows up, your love life is a train-wreck and you can’t get your DVR to work?
Instead of answering any of those questions, “Hawkeye” instead gave us an issue where Clint uses a whole bunch of his old trick arrows. The highlight of this arrow-laden affair was near the very end of the issue when Clint finds himself — not for the last time in the series — at gunpoint. Fortunately for Clint, Kate is on the scene and lets fly a trusty boomerang arrow that bounces of a bridge to hit the gun-wielding goon straight in the back of the neck.
4. THE RETURN OF KATE BISHOP
Throughout the first half of Fraction and Aja’s time on “Hawkeye,” it begins to become clear that Clint’s dysfunction would eventually get the better of him. This eventually happens when his protege, and only reliable ally — Kate Bishop — leaves. Sick of Clint’s self destructive tendencies, Kate leaves him for LA. Although things do not go overly well for Kate on the West Coast, she eventually defeats Madame Masque — well, for now, anyway — and returns to help Clint in his war against the tracksuit mafia.
And boy oh boy, is it a triumphant return. In a glorious explosion, Kate bursts into Clint’s war-zone of an apartment building ready to crack some skulls. With Lucky at her side, a quiver over her back and without giving the explosion behind her so much as a glimpse, Kate is back in Clint’s life. What can we say? Hawkeye’s protege certainly knows how to make one hell of an entrance!
3. PIZZA IS MY BUSINESS
As well as being one of the best issues of the series, “Hawkeye” #11 is probably one of the best non-superhero superhero comics ever. If nothing else, it is one of the most interesting and innovative modern stories to be told in the mainstream medium. In what was largely an experiment in visual storytelling, the issue took place completely from Lucky the dog’s perspective. Instead of relying on dialogue, the issue used symbols, cadence of speech and a few scattered human words to communicate what was going on. And it worked!
Although the details of Clint and Kate’s conversations are largely lost on Lucky, the general vibe of what is going on very much gets through. Gestures, context and action are all there, combined with flow-charts and symbols to represent Lucky’s logic and sense of smell. What makes this issue even better is the fact that it is littered with cryptic clues and hints of what is to come for poor old Clint.
2. CAR CHASE
Clint’s penchant for leaping before he looks and his love of trick arrows come together to deliver one of “Hawkeye’s” most exciting issues. After a one-night-stand goes terribly wrong, Clint finds himself in a high speed car chase, desperately trying to steal his newly acquired ’70s Challenger back from the tracksuit mafia. Against his better judgement, Clint calls Kate to help him out. After a sneaky peak at Clint’s abs, she peppers him with zingers for the entirety of the chase.
What makes this moment so great is the way it incorporates an entire arsenal of seemingly useless trick arrows, which of course was once the Avenger’s main gimmick. Putty arrows, sonic arrows and even a boomerang arrow all get a workout as Clint dangles out the side of a car with his bow in hand. Much to everyone’s surprise — particularly Kate’s — the boomerang arrow even ends up saving the day!
1. CLINT’S NAKED ESCAPE
You really can’t talk about Fraction and Aja’s “Hawkeye” run without mentioning this now iconic scene. Yep, it’s that time Clint had to fight a whole bunch of goons while he was completely naked. Who could forget that wonderful panel featuring a bare Clint — with his naughty bits covered by a conveniently placed old school Hawkeye head — jumping out of bed to avoid a flurry of gunfire. Adorning the panel where the words “Scratch that. No good news. Everything sucks.” It all just feels hilariously appropriate.
In this single panel, Fraction and Aja perfectly set the tone for their time on Hawkeye; it’s chaotic, funny, cheeky, but most importantly, a whole truckload of fun. What followed this memorable image was a fast and brutal fight scene in which Clint manages to take out a few of the goons with his bare fists and a lamp. In true “Hawkeye” style, the goons eventually knock Clint out and he wakes up alone, naked and with his car stolen. Classic Hawkeye.
What were your favorite parts about this Hawkeye run? Let us know in the comments!