Hawkeye 9

hawkeye 9

Today, Jack and Shelby are discussing Hawkeye 9, originally released April 10, 2013.

Jack: Oh, poor, dear boy, Clint, what will we do with you? Getting mixed up with shady ladies, pissing off cops and criminals alike, dirtying the name of the Avengers by living in the morally gray, breaking hearts, and, always, always getting hit in the face.

Previously, on Hawkeye, Clint buckled to the shady demands of an exceptionally beautiful and manipulative-seeming damsel in distress, breaking into a casino at gunpoint to steal a mysterious safe which she was then unable to open. Now, the women in his life conspire to uncover this mysterious possible-felon. Natasha conducts a background-check, tracks her down, and wrestles her to the ground. Her exhaustive interview reveals basically no useful information, except a warning that the tracksuit mafia intends to kill our hero, and this not-terribly-subtle hint:

hawkeye 9 keep safe

We haven’t seen the last of that safe. Got it.

Clint’s ex-wife stops by to deliver divorce papers to a more-disheveled-looking-than-normal Clint. She, too, finds his ambiguous new entanglement unsettling, and after kicking some tracksuit asses, she turns to Kate to demand answers. Despite Kate’s best efforts to protect him, the interrogation leads Clint’s girlfriend to confront him at home. He patiently endures a savage ass-chewing, then spills his guts to Gil during a trademark rooftop barbecue – whereupon Gil is mysteriously shot in the face.

hawkeye 9 gil

I’m pretty upset about that last part.

So we’ve got a bunch of characters we don’t know very well, all aggressively inserting themselves in Clint’s life and violently passing judgment on his actions. That makes it hard to know how to take some of their harsher assessments, but it is a recurring theme, now, that Clint’s evasiveness and deep-seated self-loathing make him an emotional hazard. Nonetheless, she’s laying it on pretty thick:

hawkeye 9 bad person

As a necessary counter-balance to all these romantic dysfunctions, we have, thank god, friends:  people who will call us on our bullshit, but who will not take it so sensitively that they forget what’s good about us, nor fail to support us in our time of need. Kate and Gil both observe Clint’s struggles patiently and offer their support, their advice, their compassion. That is what friends are for, right up until the moment they get shot in the head for no good reason.

What the hell, Shelby? Why has Gil been shot in the head? What will happen to those cheery rooftop barbecues among neighbors? Will it ever be warm again? I have to go.

Shelby: My poor, dear Grills. I have a sneaking suspicion he was shot in the head simply for being the person to most recently talk to Clint; the Tracksuit Mafia does NOT mess around. Everyone in the building is in extreme danger, and let’s be honest with ourselves; it’s Clint’s fault. We can certainly make the argument that the Tracksuiters are bad guys to the core, and challenging them was worth it regardless the consequences, but that doesn’t change the fact that this situation is the result of Clint’s actions. He’s going to either buck up and, filled with righteous fury, take the bros down, or he’s going to spiral downward into his guilt and self-loathing. I can see this going either way for him, and if it goes bad I don’t know if even Kate has enough pluck to pull him out.

I want to talk about the women in Hawkeye’s life, and the order in which Matt Fraction presents them to us. I don’t think Clint’s day is presented to us chronologically; as best I can tell, first the ladies appear at Kate’s place. While she rushes off to try to warn Clint, Natasha does her thing tracking down Darlene. Penelope. Wright. While Kate messes with the Tracksuiters, Jessica makes her way upstairs to yell at Clint. Kate consoles, then Bobbi shows up. By telling us the story out of order, Fraction is ranking these ladies from least to most personally important to Clint. First Black Widow, the “work wife.” Her relationship with Hawkeye is one hundred percent professional, and it shows in her actions. She spends her morning “avengering” the truth out of Ms. Wright. Next up, Bobbi the ex-wife; she certainly cares for Clint, but ultimately her actions are driven by business as well. Happy Valentine’s Day, we’re divorced. As we get closer to Clint’s heart, we have Kate, whose nebulous relationship with Clint is reflected in her title: simply “Kate.” A relationship made more nebulous by references to the fact that she’s younger than the rest of the gang and the Lolita poster hanging up in her bedroom: where is Fraction going with that, I wonder. Finally, we have the woman Clint is currently most concerned about hurting (and the one he ends up hurting the most), Jessica the Friend-Girl.

Not only does Fraction outline for us Clint’s relationships with these women, David Aja gives us his standard graphic, slick visuals to accompany them. I love the little title cards representing each woman’s heroine alter-ego; even our mystery assassin gets one.

hawkeye's girls

On my second read-through, I realized that bulls-eye-with-a-tear looked familiar. Clint mentioned chasing away some kids with spray paint earlier in the issue, and when Kate shows up we see the results of their fine work.

mysterious assassin

Not only is there some graffiti of the symbol of our mysterious assassin, right there on the left is the man himself! Aja included him as a background extra in this scene; as bummed out as I am about Grills, I have to admit that is pretty damn sweet.

While the superhero-y stuff in this title is fun, it’s Clint’s character and relationships that make this book such a gem. You all know how much I love Clint, and I’m glad he’s got a friend like Kate around to get him through some of this, but I’m super glad we have Natasha, Bobbi, and Jessica in the mix as well. Bobbi represents his past relationships, and the mistakes he’s made there. Natasha represents his professional relationships (though his romantic ones bleed into that as well: does he not date women who aren’t Avengers?) and his responsibilities as a super-hero. Jessica represents his future, potential relationships, should he ever be able to climb out of the hole he’s dug for himself. And Kate is…Kate. All these women have a hand in shaping Clint; who he is and who he will become. Though none of it will be the same without my man Grills, source of “Hawkguy” and all around good man.

For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page.  Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore.  If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there.  There’s no need to pirate, right?

34 comments on “Hawkeye 9

  1. I love love the art here. I love the simple, graphic nature of it. Of all the art on books that I read, I think I like Aja the most (or maybe Cliff Chiang).
    I do want to credit Fraction and team for making this series so accessible. As a DC boy this is the only Marvel title I’ve ever read and I don’t feel overly burdened with back story. I feel that the smaller cast is one of the main reasons for this.

      • Daredevil is fantastic – and jumping in at the previous issue would actually be a pretty good in, but I’d also say that starting any time would be fine. That’s one of the things I see consistently in Marvel comics – each issue kinda strives to be it’s own self-contained experience. It’s certainly more rewarding to read them all, but there’s so much fun one-off-ness. Speaking of, did y’all read the most recent Deadpool? DELIGHTFUL.

        • I hadn’t read anything concerning Deadpool until last month, when I finally read New Mutants # 98 in the italian edition.
          So far that issue remains my only experience with the character, but it will become more substantial soon: I ordered the first TP of Thunderbolts, and, thanks to your recommendation, I think I’ll try Deadpool’s solo series too. Thank you for your reply! : )

        • I think even more than the on-going Deadpool series (which I do like), the most recent issue is fucking awesome. It’s a pretend inventory issue from the late 70s, early 80s (a decade before Deadpool was invented). The irreverent fun STARTS there and gets even sillier. Totally recommended.

        • I read your review of that issue, and the most interesting part is when you describe the 90s as an era full of “a lot of stupid excesses — excessive violence, excessive masculinity, excessive pouches”. I agree with those thoughts you expressed, but I also remember that period with fondness: yes, the characters became ruthless instead of light hearted, manly instead of teen aged and so on, but I liked this process.
          You started talking about the 90s because in Deadpool # 7 Cable is drawn with his 90s outfit: to make Cable’s connection with that resentfully remembered period more flebile, Marvel subsequently redesigned his outfit, making him less manly, removing some pouches from his costume and so on. I didn’t appreciate it: it’s like drawing a smile on the Punisher’s T – shirt instead of the skull. The costume is part of the identity of the character, so, if you change it so much, you distort him, in my opinion. Give us back Cable’s pouches, Marvel! : )
          Also, I love inventory issues: they are standalone stories which must be out of time and continuity (because the publisher doesn’t know when to publish them), and this is perfect for me, because I love standalone stories and I also love the comics which seem to be out of time and continuity.
          In the 80s many inventory issues of Daredevil were published, and all of them were absolutely delightful. My favorite one is Daredevil # 219: I read it so many times that the cover falls off, and I used to put it under my pillow when I was a child, because it was the issue I used to read more frequently when I wanted to enjoy a comic book before getting asleep. Do you have an issue you’re so much fond of?

  2. While all the excellence of this series comes from Fraction, Aja, and the other artists involved, I do think they lucked out a little with this issue. The hurricane issue was a last minute addition to the series after Superstorm Sandy hit (pushing these last two issues back a month), and that’s the issue where we got to know Grills best. I still would have been sad, but without it, I don’t think Grills’ death would have been anywhere near as devastating as it ended up being.

    As I read the issue, Grills’ death shocked and horrified me, but in retrospect, it makes sense. Its the perfect way for the Tracksuit Mafia to punish Clint and show they mean business, and if they were going to off somebody, he makes the most sense: the other tenants aren’t fleshed out enough for us to care, but Kate and the other girls are too important to off. Still, I’m gonna miss that guy.

    I might be ruining you guyses fun here a little, but on the subject of the Lolita poster, but on his Tumblr, Fraction came right out and said that Clint and Kate won’t be hooking up. They won’t be hooking up and Pizza Dog won’t die, those were his promises. Also, apparently the puppy on the roof has some significance, but he was cagey as to exactly what it was.

    (And I realize I changed my name, so to those of you not in the know, this is former-Retcon-Punch-user Pivitor here)

    • Oh, man, killing Grills almost feels like showing off. Yes, yes, Fraction, you’re very good at building a totally wonderful, if utterly mundane, character in an Avenger’s life. OF COURSE I’M SAD WHEN HE DIES.

      All double-sarcasm aside, that is a super effective way to show that, even when Clint’s trying to get away from all the stressors of his professional life, there’s a reason he’s a motherfucking Avenger. That shit follows him and he engages in it time and time again.

  3. I do love that the description of Kate is simply “Kate.” It’s like Clint is refusing to define what’s going on there – or even what he might want there. The Lolita poster raises a bunch of other questions, but those questions kind of depend on your read of Lolita: at its heart (it’s greasy, icky heart) Lolita is abound loving something beautiful with abandon, and giving little regard to anything but the act of loving that thing. Humbert Humbert might be a dirty old man (in fact, he definitely is), but maybe Clint just loves Kate as Kate, and not as any prescribed ordering of the words “girl” and “friend.”

  4. So one other thing I wanted to mention about this issue: the cover. Its pretty fantastic. Hawkeye has the best covers in general. I was flipping through my stack of comics this week just comparing Hawkeye to the other covers and sighing over how busy and generic some of them were. Meanwhile, I just wanna frame these Hawkeye covers and hang em on the wall.

    Also, while I don’t have the link on me, that shirt from the cover is available on sald online somewhere. I think Aja and Fraction have both tweeted about it if anyone’s looking for it

  5. Hey, so we’ve never paid much attention to awards, but I think it’s significant that this was the only series from either of the big two that was nominated for either “best continuing series” or “best new series” by the Eisner Awards. Or, maybe it’s mostly significant because all of the other nominees are all creator-owned. I think its a testament to the unique voice of this series that it can keep such company, which, I think, is also a testament to Steve Wacker’s light touch with editing. I don’t mean to suggest that Fraction and Aja don’t deserve a ton of praise — they make this series what it is — but I suspect that its the editors that keep other books at the big two from reaching these same heights.

    • I think editors get a bad rap sometimes. Admittedly, there are some very overbearing editors out there, and there is obviously too much editorial interference going on at the Big 2 right now, especially at DC, which have interfered with the writers and artists doing what they want on books, which I think is always important.

      But a good editor can have just as much importance in the success of a title as its downfall. In this case, perhaps it is Wacker’s light touch that does the trick, but I know Gail Simone continually praises her editors for helping her refine or even flat-out come out with some of her favorite ideas on books. When Mark Waid was writing his landmark run on “The Flash” in the late 90s, his editor Brian Agustyn was so essential in the storytelling process that, when he stepped down as an editor at DC, Waid had Agustyn join him as co-writer on the book instead.

      I’m not saying that your point is necessarily wrong, but I do feel bad lumping everything bad about comics at the feet of the editors, especially when they no doubt sometimes have to follow the commands of their higherups as well.

      • That’s totally fair — I actually meant this more as praise of Wacker than as a condemnation of other editors. I’m just trying to come up with a theory as to why Image has so many nominated titles while the big two have so few. Creative freedom seems like the best explanation.

        • I think there’s probably bound to just be some quality hurdles that the big two need to overcome to even be nominated. I think being tied to the big shared universes is a detriment to an individual comic’s storytelling quality – almost always. The collective result of all the books sharing a universe is pretty cool and almost totally unique to comics, so we put up with a lot a shrugging and not understanding who The Vision is. Hawkeye is pretty insular. Batwoman has been nominated for this before right?

        • Oh, more creative freedom definitely plays a part in it. The Image books have editors too, but they really don’t have to worry about playing in a shared universe the way the Big 2 do (as Patrick mentioned), so that’s automatically more freedom right there. The creators of the book are coming to their story with a vision for it without their higher-ups having to worry about how it fits into their shared universe or how this could change the image of a beloved, iconic character. There’s a singular voice on most Image books that really helps.

          They also have more freedom to tell complete stories with endings, which is another luxury they have that the Big 2 generally doesn’t.

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