spindizzy: (Well when you say it like THAT it sounds)
[personal profile] spindizzy posting in [community profile] ladybusiness
Cover of Hawkeye Volume One


Mates, everyone has been telling me that Matt Fraction's Hawkeye is the best intro to Human Disaster Hawkeye and Awesome Hawkeye that I'm going to get, and they are exactly right. In this book, Clint Barton: acquires a pizza dog called Lucky, takes on a tracksuit mafia, becomes a landlord, ruins minimum two of his relationships, and is very upfront that Kate Bishop is his favourite Hawkeye. It's delightful.

(Bonus: now I know why everyone has been laughing so hard at the existence of Only Sane Man Hawkeye in the movies.)

I'm gonna talk about the art first: I love some of the art choices that got made for this comic! I'm sure I've mentioned before that limited colour palettes make me happy, and Hawkeye has that and does cool things with it! It's not as limited as say, The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia, but the artist commentary at the end points out that the palette is a lot more limited than it looks, because the colours next to each other affect what your brain perceives! So a pink that is a skin colour on one page is the sky colour on a different page and it works. *wriggles with glee* And there are such good stylistic choices, like the little inset panels focusing on details (a hand, a bottle) to give you the specifics of a larger moment (a conversation, a fight). And there are panels where it has someone talking letter by letter as a way of showing how little time is passing for the main actions, which is really clever.

(Clicking on the images SHOULD take you through to a larger version!)

Hawkeye and Kate having a conversation while he fires a bow. Some of Kate's dialogue is shown one letter at a time to emphasise speed.


(Bonus points go entirely to whoever comes up with the detail work of things like the newspaper headlines that Clint isn't really paying attention to.)

And look! Clint Barton is drawn as a battered, worn down guy with a plausible build, and Kate is drawn as a recognisable teenager! While there are issues where the art changes and I'm not as fond of it, it's overall good and I enjoy the covers especially — the romance style ones are entertaining.

Kate looking over her glasses at Clint Barton putting a shirt on and asking 'Really? REALLY? With the abs?'


(In this moment, I was Kate Bishop.)

Y'know what else I like, though? Story structure, and Hawkeye does such cool things with the format. Repetition as structure is catnip, so "Okay, this looks bad" as the lead-in to every issue pleases me, and the repetition of panel layout as a device to switch between timeframes! (This post isn't in English, but it does have a bit of compare and contrast of the repetition in art on a panel-by-panel level.) Most of the issues do really cool things with non-linear story-telling as well! The "Okay, this looks bad" often means the story is starting in media res and has to bounce backwards and forwards to get its story told, which is fun, but also there's at least one issue told entirely in a jumble of dates where sometimes the consequences and the actions prompting them are long separated (and occasionally the opposite way round). Plus: there is an issue entirely from Lucky's (Hawkeye's dog's) point of view. That is an amazing choice, especially because it means that the story is almost entirely textless; it manages to tell a complete story using only the occasional word and beautiful little association maps. I AM IMPRESSED.

Lucky the dog watching Kate and Clint having an argument that is illegible. From each of them is an association map of things like pizza, bows, and coffee.


On the topic of being impressed, I really like the writing in this. The stories are a lot of fun (and sometimes they're heartbreaking), and they feature things like Clint's speech about Captain America (which I know and love from tumblr, but which is better in context) is so good.

Clint Barton leaning on a car door and talking to someone inside the car. Speech reads: 'Having Captain America around you all the time, he just – the guy just brings out the absolute best in people. You WANT to be good when he's around. You really do. Ivan, look around you real quick. Because right now? Captain America AIN'T HERE.'


(Plus: Kate's speech about how she falls in love with New York made me adore her, because yes, this is how I feel about my home city, the writer did a good job capturing how it feels to be young and falling in love with a place.) Like, I think parts of it fall apart later in the volume, such as anything involving the assassin with the painted face — oh yeah, there are assassins, maybe should have mentioned that before? — because the story seems to lose coherency at that point, but I am interested in reading more about Hawkeye and Hawkeye.

I am very fond of Human Disaster Clint Barton, from his holey socks and his inability to coffee, to his having (and enforcing) decent boundaries and doing his best to be a good friend and mentor, not just for himself but for all of the people he is suddenly responsible for. Like, stories where people are trying to put themselves together and get to being a person they can live with are my kryptonite, I have always been upfront about that one. And it turns out that Hawkeye is a really good example of the type! Especially because Kate not only appreciates that he's trying (Her speech about the distinction between doing bad things and being a bad person), but also stands up for herself when he fucks up anyway!

"Okay — on the list of people you get to yell at because of the bad day you're having? Because of this amazing futz-up of a life you've made for yourself? I am very. Very low on that list."


(Can I just reiterate: even when literally everything else in his life is going wrong, Hawkeye could still stand up for himself. That means a lot to me. ;___; )

Their relationship is so good for them, I love it.

... This actually seems like a really good point to talk about Kate Bishop!

Three panels from Hawkeye, showing Kate Bishop drinking coffee. The captions say 'This is Kate Bishop. Kate took over for me as Hawkeye once upon a time when I was... Well, dressing up like a ninja, sort of, is the short version. She is without a doubt the finest and most gifted bowman I've ever met but she's like nine years old and spoiled rotten. She's pretty great.'


I have already mentioned that I adore her, but guys, seriously, I really love Kate Bishop. She is the perfect mix of competent, confident Young Avenger and bratty teenage girl who gets angry about musicians and crushes on wildly inappropriate men. (KATIE KATE DON'T SMOOCH THIRTY-FOUR YEAR OLD DICKHEADS YOU ARE LIKE NINE YEARS OLD AND SPOILED ROTTEN AND ALSO HE IS SUCH A PRETENTIOUS DICK. Like, I appreciate your exit line on that one and your confidence, but Kate no.)

I also like that she's shown to have a complementary skill set to Clint Barton, rather than the same one. She hobnobs with the rich and criminal with ease, and carries out undercover operations in different countries while Clint is busy getting his arse handed to him. She switches so well between between her different roles and I adore seeing her do it. Hawkeye as a comic appears to have the correct degree of love and respect for her, and I'm so glad because I wouldn't know what to do if it didn't.

The flip side of Kate Bishop being treated so well is that I do go "...?!" at the presentation of some of the female characters as "My ex-wife" and "[M]y. Friend. Girl?" Mainly because I have no idea who these women are. I had to wait until the next issue for them to be named so that I could google them. (The sudden influx of sixties fashions when the Avengers showed up SURE WAS A THING in that issue for a reason I couldn't quite make out, was that ever explained?) Although, points to the Hawkeye artists for only really sexualising characters when it would be appropriate, such as when breaking into a strip club?

I really do feel like this is a good place to come into Hawkeye. It's clear that both Clint and Kate have a significant amount of history and that history is important to who they both are at this point in their story, but also the story gives you enough of the details that you don't need that history. Plus, it's pretty and well-written and I am genuinely invested in finding out about Kate And Lucky's Excellent Adventures in the next volume! I recommend it.
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