While Marvel has had no problem mastering movies in the past few years, their hold on the comic book industry has not been as fortunate. While they frequently find themselves on top of sales on a month to month basis and have arguably the best creative stable in the industry, their stories still suffer from editorial mandates and massive events. Just over a year ago, amid struggling sales Marvel launched their Marvel NOW campaign to stymie their competition and once again come back on top. While many of Marvel’s books have found success under the new label, 2013 was the year of unending events at Marvel. Age of Ultron led into Infinity, which led into Inhumanity. As that was happening, the X-Books were dealing with Battle of the Atom. I found myself getting more and more distanced from the Marvel Universe, due to event burn out and fatigue. Yet the one book that was unaffected by the relaunches, rebrandings, and events continued to prove why Marvel is praised as the great House of Ideas: Hawkeye.
Now more than a year into its run, Hawkeye is consistently the most entertaining and the most heartwarming book on the shelf. Matt Fraction is consistently on top of his game revolutionizing the characters of Clint Barton and Kate Bishop at the same time. The duality of the book, and the embracing of both characters’ connection to the Hawkeye name provides us with infinitely more enjoyment than any big event book. The heart of this book is Clint Barton. Being portrayed for the first time as the everyman of the Avengers. His overarching arrogance and his many frustrations he often develops with his teammates are gone, leaving room for the reader to experience the character one on one. The book is defined not by the bow or the mantle, but the man. Clint Barton is the hero of the story, not Hawkeye. This distinction and departure from typical super hero antics is an example of what Marvel has been missing, connection. As a reader, I feel more connected and impacted by the events that Clint Barton go through on a day to day basis than I do with any other character in the Marvel Universe. Marvel is praised as the home of “real” heroes, ones we can connect and identify with, yet Clint Barton seems to be the only character at the moment I can truly identify with.
Marvel is launching into the All New Marvel NOW, with a slew of new titles and at least one new event on its way. While I may not be excited by any of that, I am excited to see where Matt Fraction and David Aja take Barton and Bishop in the new year.
Until the next time,