Matt Fraction/David Aja Hollingsworth
WARNING: This review will continue spoilers for previous issues of Hawkeye, as well as this one. Read at your own risk.
So yeah, remember back in 2013 when Hawkeye #11 dropped and everyone one was like “WHELP, here’s an Eisner winner in 2014”? And then that happened? Replace #11 with #19 and the year 2015, because it’s going to happen again.
The last time we saw Clint Barton and his brother Barney(back in like…March? Possibly April, it’s been awhile), they were shot up pretty bad by an assassin. This issue is the fallout of said shooting, and we find that Barney can’t walk and Clint’s deaf. The deaf thing (apologies if that’s offensive by the way, I not exactly sure what the correct terminology is to be honest) by the way is a nice reference to the character’s history, something older fans would know and newer fans are brought up to speed with via flashback early in the issue. This leads to most of the interactions between Clint and Barney being done through sign language, something not seen in a lot of comics, but makes for some rather interesting results given how comics is kinda a visual heavy medium. Matt Fraction, David Aja, and Matt Hollingsworth being the creative tour de force they are, consulted with specialist Rachel Coleman and Dr. Larry Thomas to ensure that the signing was correct, which leads to David Aja drawing a lot of signing charts. This sort of dedication to detail is why Aja and Fraction win Eisners people.
It’s also not the first time we’ve seen the team experiment with language in comics. There’s the Tracksuit’s “Bro”-usage, and the award winning Pizza Dog issue, in which the story is told via a Dog’s POV. It’s interesting that Hawkeye of all books is the comic experimenting with language in comics.
Aja’s art is stunning. The way the characters “act” and their body language comes across so genuine and real. The guilt and pain Clint carries in the early part of this issue is clearly expressed on his face, as is the anger Barney shows towards his brother stubbornness. Aja even goes as far as to letter some of his own art, and is so skilled at it I couldn’t tell what he contributed and what series regular letterer Chris Eliopoulos did. It’s damn good, and the end result made the delays for this book well worth the dollar increase in price.
As for the story, it’s the typical act 3 of any Western/Action movie you’ve seen. The hero (Clint) is at a lost, buried in guilt and defeat, despite having plenty of people to turn to for help. Hawkguy’s stubbornness has been a theme for most of this book, and it plays off of the plot of issue 17’s Christmas special. And much like that issue, Clint gets some sense knocked into him (literally) and he gets his stuff together, rallies the troops and goes on the offensive. It may be a bit cliche, but Fraction and Aja handle it so well, you can’t help but find yourself pumped up by the end of the issue.
And that’s what ultimately makes Hawkeye as good as it is. The Matts and David make you emotionally invested in these characters, so that when they actually get a win, there’s a genuinely sense of happiness the reader gets from the book. It’s an incredible feeling, and speaks a lot about the talent the creative team posses .
Hawkeye seems to be coming to in a end in a few issues, and I’ll be sad to see it go. Aside from it being my favorite comic from one of my favorite creative teams working in comics today, it’s book I can always rely on to being nothing short of amazing. I’ll be sad to see it go, but excite to see how everything wraps up over the upcoming months.