By Todd Allen
Hawkeye is an odd character, if you look at his publishing history. He’s been a staple of the Avengers since the title’s earliest days. In fact, you could probably argue that the core of the Avengers were the Vision and Hawkeye. Characters that you read in Avengers and not solo books.
When they wanted to spin-off West Coast Avengers, Hawkeye was the centerpiece of the spin-off. When they launched Solo Avengers, Hawkeye was the regular feature. You had Hawkeye mini-series in ’83, ’94 and ’03. More recently, you had Hawkeye & Mockingbird and Hawkeye: Blindspot. You even had an Ultimate Hawkeye mini-series.
Hawkeye is similar to Doctor Strange. Whereas Doctor Strange limped along in a lower selling cult title for several years, with occasional team book stops (usually variations on The Defenders, Hawkeye has been a staple of several popular team books (Avengers, West Coast Avengers, Secret Avengers… and an early stop over in The Defenders), but his solo efforts just haven’t gotten much traction.
Unless you’re living under a rock, you heard Hawkeye had a bit part in the Thor movie and is already on all kinds of posters for The Avengers film. Everyone has pretty high expectations for that film, which ought to mean more visibility for the character. This means a fresh launch and slightly larger names on the creative totem pole.
In August, Matt Fraction and David Aja will be launching the latest edition of Hawkeye. (Yeah… I know. Movie launches in May and the comic launches in August… you’ve got Captain America & Hawkeye to tide you over until then.) As you may recall, that’s 2/3 of the Brubaker/Fraction/Aja team that launched The Immortal Iron Fist a few years back. While they didn’t stay together all that long, that book was a critical darling — and deservedly so. Hawkeye is frequently portrayed as having a wise ass streak, and that wouldn’t have been out of place in the Iron Fist run.
From the Official PR:
“HAWKEYE is more about what inspires Clint Barton,” Fraction explains, “We got Clint in AVENGERS, SECRET AVENGERS, and anywhere else at any given time—but we wanted HAWKEYE to be about what Clint does when he’s not at work, about what drives the guy.
“He’s got some stuff coming up in [Avengers Vs. X-Men] and afterwards he’s in a place where he’s gotta figure out what he’s doing with himself and why. What moves him, what’s meaningful for him.”
Similarly searching for purpose, Kate Bishop, former Young Avenger and the Marvel Universe’s other Hawkeye, will quickly fall in with her namesake.
“She’s his junior partner, his apprentice,” says Fraction. “It’s a very Avengers relationship—meaning Steed and Peel—and she’s as adrift as he is. What the hell are these two doing with their lives? Turns out, helping people is what they have to do to get through the night. In costume, in life, doesn’t matter. Good guys don’t punch a time card at 5:00.”