Dealing with a dodgy landlord is, admittedly, an odd storyline to start a new superhero comic with. Still, it perfectly sets the tone for Matt Fraction and David Aja’s new ongoing Hawkeye series. As the blurb at the start says – this is what he does when he’s not being an Avenger.
Fraction has recast Hawkeye as a street-level hero in the vein of Luke Cage or Daredevil – and it really works. The guy with the trick arrows has never seemed quite at home tussling with gods and billionaire geniuses so casting him, at least in his downtime, as the protector of a tenement building is a solid choice. So here we see him dealing with tracksuit-clad slumlords with an unfortunate tendency to say ‘bro’ as every other word. It’s a bit of a step down for a man used to battling alien invasions, but with a tone that feels closer to 70’s cop movies than Marvel’s own cinematic output, Fraction nails the execution. The Robin Hood parallels don’t hurt either.
David Aja’s art is the biggest draw (arrow jokes, people!) in Hawkeye #1 – his grasp of anatomy puts most superhero artists to shame, showing more with a few thick lines than most photorealistic attempts ever manage. Matt Hollingsworth’s colouring also deserves praise, with two very different, seemingly French Connection-inspired colour schemes helping to map out the fractured narrative. Working with a very limited palette, his bold, flat shades compliment Aja’s linework beautifully, and the little flashes of Hawkeye’s trademark purple that show up in his clothes are the closest this ever comes to looking like a traditional superhero comic (the goofy mask is mercifully absent, though there’s a glimpse of a redesigned costume on the first few pages).
It’s great to see Marvel taking a different approach to one of their main characters, and doing it when interest is at it’s highest (let’s face it, not too many people cared about the character pre-Jeremy Renner). Effectively shedding the baggage of 50-odd years of continuity without discarding it, Hawkeye #1 is just as good as a jumping-on point for anyone curious from The Avengers film as it is for long-term Marvel fans.