By Tim Stevens
The time has come this August to restring the bow and check your fletching when writer Matt Fraction and artist David Aja place Clint Barton front and center in the new ongoing HAWKEYE series.
The duo, collaborating for the first time since revitalizing Iron Fist, along with Ed Brubaker, in IMMORTAL IRON FIST, have fallen back into the rhythm almost without a hitch.
“It's great,” asserts Fraction. “[David]'s even nuttier than where we left off, and I remain no bed of roses, so it's been a blast so far. He's just blowing the doors off the joint. He's a monster. He's the best.”
As to as why it took Earth’s Mightiest Marksman to bring them back together, Aja points to a longtime personal favoritism for the sarcastic bowman.
“Hawkeye was one my favorite characters when a kid,” he recalls. “One of first Marvel comics I read was AVENGERS #25, and I [fell] in love with [the] guy; he acted as real person, was a complete jerk, so I suppose I identified with him.”
For Fraction, the archer represents a challenge.
“Never had the chance to write a character like him, or to do a book like this before,” the writer divulges. “And I wanted to chronicle him in an ongoing series because it'd keep me from getting bored. Repetition bores me to death. I had this idea for how to do a book that wasn't like anything else we'd seen him in before, wasn't like anything I'd done before, and couldn't stop thinking about.”
That idea hinges on how the Avenger lives his life when not around his numerous teammates and allies.
“HAWKEYE is more about what inspires Clint Barton,” Fraction explains, “We got Clint in AVENGERS, SECRET AVENGERS, and anywhere else at any given time—but we wanted HAWKEYE to be about what Clint does when he's not at work, about what drives the guy.
“He's got some stuff coming up in [Avengers Vs. X-Men] and afterwards he's in a place where he's gotta figure out what he's doing with himself and why. What moves him, what's meaningful for him.”
Similarly searching for purpose, Kate Bishop, former Young Avenger and the Marvel Universe’s other Hawkeye, will quickly fall in with her namesake.
“She's his junior partner, his apprentice,” says Fraction. “It's a very Avengers relationship—meaning Steed and Peel—and she's as adrift as he is. What the hell are these two doing with their lives? Turns out, helping people is what they have to do to get through the night. In costume, in life, doesn't matter. Good guys don't punch a time card at 5:00.”
Aja plans to tweak his style a touch in order to best capture the two bow wielding searchers and match the book’s tone.
“I’m thinking lately I'm going more iconic, more cartoony. You know, less is more,” he explains.” Your style evolving is the perfect excuse when you are cutting corners.
“Note to self: remember to do lot of black silhouettes and black panels.”
The stripped down art nicely goes along with Fraction’s almost singular focus on the two leads, forgoing the team-ups both have frequently found themselves a part of.
“A few [other heroes appear], but very peripherally,” he admits. “The villains are more important to keep an eye on.”
Asked to elaborate on who those villains might be, the writer opts to play things close to the vest.
“Some old classics, some new relevant street-level guys and maybe like the most wanted man in the world?”
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