Graphic Novel Review: Hawkeye Vol.1 My Life as a Weapon by Matt Fraction

Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life As A WeaponHawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life As A Weapon by Matt Fraction

Publisher: Marvel Comics

The best part about this Eisner nominated superhero story is that its not a superhero story. This is about what Clint Barton gets up to when he’s not on the Avengers clock. The opening scene immediately sets the tone with Clint falling from a building, sardonically noting that, unlike almost every one of his teammates, he has no unusual powers or devices that will make such a fall easier to handle. As a result, he ends up severely wounded and the story takes up shortly after, when he is released from the hospital.

There are two reasons to like this book. The first is Hawkeye. This is the perfect introduction to a character I know little about beyond his stoic and limited movie appearance and his fabulous modelling career on the internet. Turns out Barton is a very nice, funny, self-deprecating guy. At one point, he implies that, outside of Captain America’s influence, he might not be as nice as he seems, but his actions throughout speak otherwise, especially in the first issue, which focuses on his recovery, a new pet and his neighbours. Despite his hefty Avengers salary, he lives in a rundown apartment building and frequently hangs out with his neighbours, half-heartedly proclaiming that he is not an Avenger (which is difficult to deny when the helicarrier shows up to give him a lift).

The second reason to like this book is Hawkeye. That is, Kate Bishop, who also claims the moniker as a Young Avenger, granted the title by Captain America himself. After their initial encounter, which is depicted in the issue of Young Avengers Presents included within this volume, the two Hawkeyes become fast friends and Kate appears regularly within the pages. Their relationship is that of a casual dynamic duo where, despite Bishop’s youth, she sometimes seems to be the much older and wiser one, while Barton displays an amusing and endearing recklessness that unsurprisingly gets them both into a lot of trouble. They make a great team and their back and forth banter gave me a lot of smiles.

This volume combines issues one to five of the Hawkeye series, and includes issue six of Young Avengers Presents. I really enjoyed the first three issues and give them five stars, but was a bit disappointed when the art changed for the 2-part story arc called “The Tape.” Javier Pulido’s art, while good and somewhat similar in style, lacked the more subtle lines and muted feel and colours of David Aja’s issues. There was not nearly enough mauve. The first three issues also featured, in the letters page, suggested listening to enhance your reading pleasure. When I noticed this in the first issue, I made sure to skip to the end of the next to find out what I should be listening to as I enjoyed the story. This feature sadly did not continue.

I was also disappointed in “The Tape” storyline because Maria Hill, Captain America and Nick Fury showed up and sent Barton on a mission. While the story was good and Bishop was involved, it lacked the intimacy and unpredictability that had developed in the first three issues. The appearance of the Avengers felt like an unwelcome intrusion on the private, downtime world of Barton and Bishop.

Finally, the Young Avengers issue served as a useful introduction to the character’s relationship, but I felt it was an unnecessary inclusion that once again intruded on the characters and stories I’d cuddled up with at the beginning of my reading session.

Despite these disappointments, I will still say that I really enjoyed this read and have a whole new appreciation for both characters. I’m sure I can get over these quirks in order to continue with the series.

4 of 5 stars

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