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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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?