As requested, I am posting this reminder about the release of Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon. My review of the series is here. The gist of it is that Matt Fraction and David Aja have produced something really cool, stylish, and unique, and you do not need to be in on all of the Marvel backstory to think it’s incredible. Go buy it immediately. Buy it at your local comic book store if possible! Buy several copies for your friends and relations. It’s not fair to this character for everyone to be thinking of him in terms of boring oatmeal Jeremy Renner.
I know! You don’t want to read the new Hawkeye comics because comics are expensive, Hawkeye is boring, and Marvel comics are too mythology-heavy for a newcomer to leap into. But you’re so wrong. Unbeknownst to you, you really do want to read the new Hawkeye comics. Let me explain real quick why your objections to doing so are inadequate.
1. Single-issue comics are an expensive habit. So borrow a friend’s. Or if you can’t borrow a friend’s, just pay the three bucks a month. If you take a year’s subscription through Marvel, it’s still about the same cost as one hardback book. You buy books all the time. Subscribe to a comic this one time. (Or wait for the trade paperback to come out in March of this year.) The covers are stylish, and as I’ll describe in more detail below, the comics are very very very good.
2. Hawkeye was the boringest Avenger in the Avengers movie. Yup, he was. That is a correct assessment. Partly that’s the writing — it’s hard to be cool and interesting when you’re (spoiler alert) turned evil within five minutes — and partly it’s that Jeremy Renner (sorry, Hurt Locker fans! I am sure he was great in Hurt Locker but I’ll never know because I’m not watching that movie) is bland like oatmeal and a bad archer. Plus, when everybody else in the movie gets a bunch of opportunities to be awesome and ass-kicky, and one character gets very few and has no superpowers, you obviously end up thinking of that one character as the weakest link.
Luckily for us all, the Hawkeye comics in question are about Hawkeye when he’s not hanging around with the Avengers; i.e., when he’s just being a regular guy trying to do right by the world. The first issue is about him trying to get his shady thug landlord not to raise the rent on all the tenants in his building. The second issue’s about him trying to foil a robbery. The writer, Matt Fraction, has said that his vision of Hawkeye is someone who just can’t help being a good guy — like, he’d help you move your couch even if it was raining outside (says Matt Fraction). What can I say? I’m a sucker for that kind of thing.
Also, he acquires a dog. He renames it but it’ll always be Pizza Dog in my heart.
3. All the mythology is too hard to get into. Nope, it isn’t. This one’s my big reason for never reading any Marvel comics — the canon’s too voluminous — but the Hawkeye books are very light on the mythology. The writers aren’t telling a big extended story. They’re telling a bunch of small stories. If you’ve seen a few of the superhero movies in the last few years you’ll be fine.
So okay. That’s your objections resoundingly put paid to. Now that I’ve dealt with the reasons not to not read the Hawkeye comics, here are the reasons to read them:
1. The two main characters are a delight (to each other and to you). The two main characters are Clint Barton (regular Hawkeye) and Kate Bishop (also somehow Hawkeye? I don’t know the mythology on this and you don’t need to either; she shoots like Hawkeye does), and they enjoy and excel at working as a team. I was in for this as soon as Clint 1) talked all about how great and awesome Kate is, as you the reader are watching her be great and awesome; and 2) said he didn’t want to sleep with her. Yay! Not everyone has to constantly want to sleep with everyone else. Kate and Clint get a kick out of each other, and they have each other’s backs. What more could you ask?
2. Everyone wears purple. This isn’t anything. I like purple, that’s all. The palate of the comic is overwhelmingly purple. Yay.
3. The art is really nice. I guess the purple thing could have been subsumed into this, but I love purple so much! It feels wrong to pretend I love purple less than I do. Anyway, the art is really nice as a whole. The action shots are elegant and cool. The quieter, chattier panels do an amazing job of conveying subtext through body language. There are a few panels I kept going back to because the way the characters’ faces were tilted and how their arms went, damn it just said everything. Way to go, artist David Aja.
4. The dialogue is understatedly wonderful. It is all charming all the time. Hawkeye’s inner monologue is extra charming, especially when you consider that inner monologues are basically voiceovers, and voiceovers are hard. These ones are the perfect balance of sincerity and humor and self-deprecation. I know I’ve just two seconds ago praised the dynamic between the two main characters, but I’m going to do it again because this page, where Hawkeye is blown away by how perfect Kate is at her job, blows me away with how perfect everyone who worked on this page is at their jobs.
There is also this joke. It’s maybe not the first time this joke has been made, but it’s made completely charmingly here.
5. The stories have complex, interesting, inventive structures. Y’all know I love a story with a tight structure. I particularly love Hawkeye #3 for this, although all of the issues are good. The unifying theme of #3 is that Hawkeye has made nine really bad decisions that day, and he ticks them off for you one by one and that’s the story. It all has its roots in Hawkeye trying to get some tape to label all his ridiculous trick arrows (this in the vein of Hawkeye being the Avenger who’s just a dude), but as he’s trying to get that task accomplished, he ends up in a big car chase shooting trick arrows pretty much at random. A small inset panel shows a close-up of the arrow with a label (acid arrow, smoke bomb arrow, etc.), and below that is a panel showing the damage being done by each. It is so damn cool.
6. When I finished reading the six issues that existed as of December which is when I read them, I felt real sad. I felt so bummed out that I had reached the end of the comics to be read, I read two of them over again. (The third one and the last one.) Then I gave all six to Mumsy to read (she liked them), and when she gave them back I read them again. And then the first one again. After that I let Legal Sister read them, and after that I returned them to Captain Hammer, whose comics they were. As soon as I got home that evening I regretted giving them up because I wanted to read them all again. This is all in the course of one day. That’s how delightful and readable these comics are. Read them tomorrow.
Aaaaaa, I love this comic so much. When the first volume comes out in March, I will want to buy a copy for everyone I like. It’s just so good. Read it. Read it. Read it. You’ll thank me later.