Hey bro. Bro! You reading Hawkguy bro? Missin’ out bro.
So I’m not exactly a new Marvel reader. I’ve read decades of old titles and kept up with Daredevil til a few years back. I’m a returning reader perhaps. But until recently, I didn’t buy any Marvel single issues, and the trades had started to be far too confusing even for this pro bookseller.
Now I’m reading four titles on the regular, and somehow keep picking up the occasional other to try while sneaking covetous looks at the various X-Men titles. A couple of things had always put me off previously: the double shipping on some titles; the sheer number of similarly titled comics; and, I guess, the strange behaviour of an editor online. But with DC cancelling all my favourite books, and thanks to some amazing cover art, Marvel intrigued me.
Most of all though, it was Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye. I saw some pages on a review or preview somewhere, and those covers, and went out and immediately got the issues I needed to catch up. Because brilliant storytelling + phenomenal art + great characterisation + amusing plots = omg, want.
It’s been a consistently fantastic comic ever since, and although Aja isn’t on every issue it somehow makes his ones all the more special (and the others, by the by, are still fab). Like #8 which also has the genius contributions of Annie Wu in the form of romance comic covers inserted throughout the story. These are not only super cute but inform the storyline while being part of the plot in a completely different way too. And did I mention cute?
We get the return of the mysterious red-haired woman in another of Clint’s misadventures on his downtime from the life of an Avenger, and the first pages make a passing nod to his life outside of this title with the various women in his life not terribly impressed by his shenanigans. This link up to the other titles Hawkeye features in isn’t the norm, but even here it’s pretty easy to read without any other knowledge. I have some passing ideas of what is going on in the other titles from reading reviews and write-ups, but as a non-reader it wasn’t an issue.
And that’s kinda the extra win in the formula of awesomeness that is this comic: continuity is not important. Sure it fits in the right slots within the larger Marvel universe, but picking this book of the shelf requires no prior knowledge whatsoever. Never read a Marvel comic before? Try this one. And there is a huge number of people out there who a) haven’t read a Marvel comic before and b) like Clint Barton from that Avengers film that pretty much rocked. Can you imagine if every great character had a book you could just pick up and have it be a bloody good, hella enjoyable read with absolutely no pre-requisites? Black Widow? Wolverine? Spider-Man?!
That’s also probably the reason why my other two current Marvel favourites are Captain Marvel and Young Avengers. Those have a bit more complexity in the character histories to work around but they’re still really accessible. And clever. And fun.
Because comics should be fun, really, they’re entertainment. And Hawkeye is bursting with energy and heart, real heart, from car chases to dog rescues to hurricane empathy to Dog Cops. Reading this comic gives me the same buzz as watching an episode of my favourite tv series, or having seen a really good new film. It’s daft and it’s original, and underneath all that it is truly brilliant in terms of panel composition, sequencing, storytelling and rhythm.
Upcoming plots include an issue told by pizza dog, and one incorporating sign language as Clint goes back to having hearing difficulties. As someone who spends half their times trying to entice the UK reading population into trying a comic, this stuff is gold dust.
If you’re not reading it bro, you’re missing out.
[What other mini Marvels am I missing out on? Suggest away - please!]
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: David Aja, Annie Wu
Colourist: Matt Hollingsworth
Cover Artist: David Aja
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Sana Amanat, Stephen Wacker
If you like, try: Young Avengers, Saga