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Best of 2012: Hawkeye and the Little-Known Precursor

by  in Comic News Comment
Best of 2012: Hawkeye and the Little-Known Precursor

I think we likely place too much emphasis on our “top ten” comic books of the year, as obviously with the thousands of comics out there in any given year, there is a much bigger difference between the cream of the crop and the bad books than there are between the best books. So rather than giving honorable mentions in my Top Ten Comics of 2012, I will spotlight a few of my favorites through New Year’s Day. – BC

One of the interesting things when it comes to popular culture is when you watch enough TV or read enough comics you begin to see intriguing little precursors that inform current works. Most common, of course, are TV show runners who have specific actors that they clearly enjoy working with, so you can always expect to see these actors pop up in the show runners’ new works (I know people keep expecting Amy Acker to show up in Joss Whedon’s new S.H.I.E.L.D. program). Similarly, if you followed John Ostrander’s Suicide Squad then you would be well prepared for how prominent Father Craemer turned out to be in Spectre (also, if you read Ostrander’s early Star Wars work, you would not have been as surprised at the reveal of the big bad guy in his Star Wars: Legacy story). I bring this up because there was a notable precursor to Matt Fraction and David Aja’s excellent new series, Hawkeye, that I think should be better known (besides, of course, the better known precursor that Fraction, Aja and colorist Matt Hollingsworth all did outstanding work on Immortal Iron Fist).

In 2008’s Young Avengers Presents #6, Fraction wrote a spotlight issue on Kate Bishop, Hawkeye of the Young Avengers, with artwork by Alan Davis and Mark Farmer. The issue opens with Kate on a date where she is accosted by Ronin of the New Avengers. He is clearly testing her abilities and then tells her to show up at a certain location and bring her bow (which is the bow that the original Hawkeye, Clint Barton, used before he “died” – it was given to Kate by Captain America). She shows up and is in for quite a surprise…

Kate later on steals her bow back from the Avengers and Clint comes in from a mission while she is still hiding…

They then have a great scene later on in the issue that I won’t spoil for you. Go pick up the issue! Or the Young Avengers Presents trade! In any event, Fraction definitely established here that he had a great handle on Kate Bishop and most importantly, he had a great handle on the relationship between Clint and Kate and that relationship has been at the center of Fraction’s new series featuring the characters.

If the relationship between Clint and Kate is at the center of the new series, it is shared by Fraction’s approach to Clint as a superhero who wants to be a “man of the people,” even if his life is far too outlandish for him to ever actually fit that role.

In the first issue, he buys the building he’s been renting an apartment in…

Thus, he becomes the super to his neighbors, which becomes a major plot point in the most recent issue, which is likely the best issue of the series yet.

Kate actually doesn’t show up until the second issue, but she’s been a major part of the series ever since. Here she is in #2, where we get to see David Aja demonstrate his amazing artwork…

Aja has such a unique approach that it really makes this book a visual treat (Matt Hollingworth’s colors are a big role in this, of course – they are an outstanding pairing). Aja is SO good that when Javier Pulido does a guest-spot in #4-5, it seems like a big drop-off in quality even though Pulido is himself an excellent artist and he does a really good job on #4-5. But Aja is SO good that even someone as great as Pulido seems like a downgrade.

The battle for the best single issue of Hawkeye comes down to #3, which is a thrill ride of an adventure where Hawkeye and Kate help a woman who just sold her car to Clint (and they had some other interactions, of course)…

A key to the issue is Hawkeye trying to get tape so that he can catalog his trick arrows. Since he is interrupted before he gets a chance to actually do it, we get fun stuff like Hawkeye shooting arrows without knowing which one he’s shooting…

As good as #3 is (and it is really good), I think I’d cast my vote for #6, which tells the story of “six days in Hawkeye’s life,” going from a hilarious discussion about the effects of concussions in superheroes…

to Hawkeye calling in Tony Stark to help him set up his DVR so he can watch Dog Cops…

It is a touching issue where we see Clint get as close to being a true “man of the people” as we have seen yet in the series.

Fraction and Aja pack so much story into their issues that this book should be a must have for those who complain about decompression.

It’s interesting to see we’re only six issues in! I can’t wait to see what they have for us next!

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