Thursday, May 23, 2013

#CBR5 Review #22: Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon by Matt Fraction

(with art by David Aja and Javier Pulido)
Apparently there is this idea that Hawkeye is the “most useless Avenger,” what with not being superhuman in any way, and using arrows rather than more “practical” forms of weaponry. But after The Avengers film came out last year, more people are starting to appreciate Clint Barton/Ronin/Goliath (I know, I know), and this series of Hawkeye comics focuses on Clint’s life outside of the Avengers. More specifically, the trouble he gets himself into on a regular basis, as well as some of the work he does for S.H.I.E.L.D. when he isn’t chumming up with the other superheroes. And well... it's pretty comical.

A trim first volume at just around 130 pages, My Life as a Weapon includes the first 5 issues of Hawkeye, as well as one final installment of Young Avengers Presents #6. The first five issues all start with Clint in a seemingly disastrous situation, which he then explains and elaborates on. Generally, his getting out of these mishaps involves help from the Young Avengers version of Hawkeye, Kate Bishop (whose age is still elusive to me. Is she actually 9? Is she an older teen? I really couldn’t tell you). But these adventures of Clint’s dispel the myth of Hawkeye being the most useless Avenger? Not really, but boy is he amusing, and still manages to be inventive and capable in even the most difficult situations (that always seems to occur after be acts without really thinking about what he is doing). Impulsive, snarky, and blunt is how I would characterize Clint Barton in this series, and that makes for an absolutely hilarious read. Because who says comic books have to be serious adventures all the time?

The only thing that I didn’t really enjoy in this volume was the final inclusion of Young Avengers Presents. Not only is the art drastically different in this story (not that the art is bad, in fact, it is very detailed and engaging), but the tone is quite dichotomous to the rest of the volume’s inclusions as well. While the previous 5 stories focus on Clint and his general gravity towards trouble, all while attempting to do the right thing for the people around him (especially when on missions from S.H.I.E.L.D), this final conclusion shows the first meeting of Clint Barton and Kate Bishop, while Clint is working with the Avengers. It shows how Clint wants to become a bit of a mentor to the Young Avengers and their use of their powers for good, rather than trying to stop them from doing what they do best. This isn’t to say that the story is bad, but the contrast between the established gruff characterization of Clint with this new, soft and slightly paternal side seemed a bit jarring to me.

A small example of one sleek issue-cover
If nothing else, however, the cover art for each issue within the volume is absolutely stunning. The covers are minimalist in design, but have big impact. In addition, the artwork frequently used when Hawkeye is about to shoot an arrow, showing his strict bodylines and tensions, are phenomenally depicted without being overly done as well.

But at the end of the day, I thoroughly enjoyed My Life as a Weapon, and plan on reading the second volume soon. While it definitely helps to have a bit of knowledge of the Avengers universe beyond the film for the last issue in the volume, this is not really necessary for the rest of the book, and so I would recommend reading this to anyone who has even a slight fancy for tales of a superhero nature.

[Be sure to check out more reviews on the Cannonball Read group blog]

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