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Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon (Marvel NOW!) Paperback – March 19, 2013
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The main strength of this series is the humor. Fraction is a guy who knows how to make people laugh, and Hawkeye's snark and general shenanigans make for a read that is never less amusing. The action is also quite good, with the best chapter in this volume walking us through all of Hawkeye's trick arrows and abilities.
The flaw though is the plotting. Pretty much every issue in this series has had Hawkeye reflect on his current situation being bad, get knocked out and captured, escape via unlikely means that only works because he and his partner are the only two characters who can shoot straight, and ultimately save the day. This series desperately needs some variety in the next volume if I'm going to consider sticking with it.
You really do. Sure, there are other heroes who don't really have super powers - Iron Man, Batman - but Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne have billions in their bank accounts. Hawkeye is a regular guy who makes it - but still gets beat up, relies on his wits as much as his skills, often has great intentions but not much in the way of a plan. If you've ever felt like you're making it up as you go along, like you're walking the tightrope of "this is really bad" and "hey, this might just work out," then Hawkeye is the hero for you.
I wish I had taken the advice of all the other reviews raving about this comic - if you've had the same doubts, consider them dispelled. This book lives up to the hype.
The first issue gathered in this graphic novel has already been reviewed in this blog, and it really sets the tone for the rest of the book. Clint’s life, whether as heroic Avenger or just a guy down the block, isn’t for the faint of heart. Trouble follows Hawkeye no matter where he goes. If it’s not the Russians who first owned the building where he lives, then it a mystery girl named Penny who gets him involved in a run-and-gun shootout on the street that eventually involves Clint’s more-or-less apprentice, Kate Bishop, the Hawkeye of the Young Avengers.
I love the storytelling in this graphic novel. It’s down-to-earth and exciting at the same time. Clint Barton really jumps out at the everyman hero that he’s pretty much always been, but in ways I’d never before considered. I like seeing this part of him, the way he gets along with his neighbors, who don’t really think anything of him being a superhero, and the struggles he has while sorting out his mentorship of Kate.
I also like the fact that Fraction has developed his secondary characters deeply enough that they become a part of the overall stories. The Russian gangsters do appear again, and Penny turns up in the next graphic novel.
But one of the best things that sets this book apart from the rest of the comics now being published is the art. David Aja’s minimalist artwork and almost monotone colors really put the sequential structure in the panels. He doesn’t seem to mind drawing a dozen or more tiny panels on the page for Fraction’s dialogue to fit in a breezy back-and-forth manner that makes for such easy reading. Javier Pulido follows Aja’s opening act with similar style and I hardly noticed the artists had changed, which is something that seldom happens for me.
Fraction’s plots are interesting. Even when they’re simple, like the opening act of the book, there are a lot of layers, a lot of back-and-forth storytelling that careens from the present to the past to the present again, and you have to stay on your toes to catch it all. The story could have been easily told from beginning to end, but I like the fact that the structure bounces around. It’s almost like Clint is sitting there telling you the story over a cup of coffee at the corner diner.
I’m really looking forward to subsequent volumes in the series. If you haven’t picked this one up, you should.