Goodbye, Bro: Hawkeye Comes To An EndJuly 16, 2015
It’s finally over. After huge delays in the final issues, the incredible, award-winning Matt Fraction/David Aja run on Hawkeye has come to an end.
This run of Hawkeye is enormously significant to me. It’s basically the reason I even read Marvel comics, to the extent that I now ravenously consume as many of them as I can via the Marvel Unlimited app.
Hawkeye changed my life. OK, certainly not in a way that justifies the grandeur of that sentence, but it actually did.
When it comes to reading comics, I was very much a slow starter. I rediscovered my love of Batman in my late-20s, but Marvel was a foreign land to me. I’d loved the Spider-Man and X-Men cartoons in the 90s, but the Avengers? Those guys were all just people from the movies to me. I had no history with them at all.
And then a couple of years ago Marvel gave away every single #1 issue (near enough) that it had ever published on Comixology. Free. Gratis. I’m notoriously tight, so I couldn’t resist that value. I ‘bought’ every last one. And then sat on them, entirely lost as to where to start.
Eventually, I caught up with the hype about Hawkeye. So that was the comic that I decided to jump on board with. And boy was I not disappointed.
That first issue is incredible. Clint Barton went from being a guy briefly in the first Thor movie to a person I actually cared about.
So what was it about Hawkeye that got its hooks – or should that be arrows – into me so quickly?
Firstly, there’s the art. I hold my hands up as being completely ignorant about art – I couldn’t tell you why something was good or bad, or why I liked it. But I can tell you that David Aja absolutely kills it on this book. It’s just incredible. And when he isn’t on line duties, the art is still top notch with other fantastic artists like Francesco Francavilla or Annie Wu.
From the very first issue, this has been a comic that you can gaze at adoringly. The extraordinary colour work of Matt Hollingworth is an enormous part of that too. Purple has never looked so good.
But looking lovely isn’t enough. The biggest strength of the comic is the writing. Some comic fans, who know more about this stuff than me, have moaned that this Clint Barton isn’t their Hawkeye. He’s a bit… well, rubbish. Useless with women. Getting into scrapes, getting in over his head and then getting banged up trying to fix things.
That may not be their Hawkeye, but it’s certainly mine. And I adore him.
But Hawkeye is more than just Clint Barton. Kate Bishop, the other, frankly better, Hawkeye, has been a revelation to me. And the villains, the tracksuit draculas, with their vaguely Eastern European accents and constant use of the word bro have been all at once hilarious and deeply menacing.
From start to finish, this run has generated emotions in me in ways that comic books normally don’t.
And yet it’s also hilariously funny too. I defy anyone to get through a whole issue without breaking into a big grin at some point. It’s just not possible.
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing though. In fact, being a Hawkeye fan has been frustrating, perhaps even infuriating, over the last year or so, with constant delays wrecking the momentum of the book.
It’s meant we’ve had issues published out of order, which thankfully wasn’t a complete disaster, as it had basically split into two separate books by that point. Getting from issue 19 to 22 took almost a year.
We’ve even reached the farcical stage of its successor series, All-New Hawkeye from Jeff Lemire and Ramon Perez, being five issues old before this run of Hawkeye had come to an end.
As a result, I confess the penultimate issue somewhat passed me. It didn’t move me the way the book had at the start. I felt detached from the story.
I wouldn’t let that happen with the final issue. I went back and read the entire run from the beginning again. I didn’t want to miss anything. And while I still thoroughly enjoyed the finale, there’s no doubt that, for me at least, some of the magic was gone. I envy anyone coming to this series fresh, able to read it in trade form, free of the delays.
So goodbye Hawkeye. You made me laugh. You made me cry. You even made me angry. You will be missed.