Comics

Does Matt Fraction Want to Write Green Arrow?: "Hawkeye #1"

Jay Mattson

What’s most interesting about Fraction’s take on Clint Barton is how much he almost recaptures a sense of earlier politically-charged and left-leaning storylines from the 70s…

Hawkeye #1

Publisher: Marvel
Length: 22 pages
Writer: Matt Fraction, David Aja
Price: $3.99
Publication Date: 2012-10
Amazon

It’s no secret that similar superheroes exist across multiple imprints and company lines. Of course, there are enough differences between these characters to make them unique. Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark each have their own family fortunes that fund their heroic exploits, they both hold prominent positions on their respective superhero teams, and they both have severe personal problems -- Bruce’s family issues and Tony’s alcoholism. Captain America and Superman are both iconic figures in a world they don’t understand but want nothing more than to make better. Then, of course, some are more obvious than others, like Aquaman and Namor.

What surprises me is how little people draw comparisons between Green Arrow and Hawkeye, two heroes who wield bows and claim to never miss. Marvel has handed the relaunch of Hawkeye to Matt Fraction, a writer who deals in universal human nature and base emotions as foundations for character-driven stories. What’s most interesting about Fraction’s take on Clint Barton is how much he almost recaptures a sense of earlier politically-charged and left-leaning storylines from the '70s. Those stories however, starred Oliver Queen's Green Arrow, rather than Clint Barton's Hawkeye.

Hawkeye is a rarity in comicbooks. He has starred in almost every Avengers book over the last ten years, was killed then resurrected, changed aliases, and went on to be included in Marvel’s big-screen adaptation of The Avengers. Yet, Clint Barton is rarely written about past his dealings with Earth’s Mightiest. While the big-hitters like Captain America, Iron-Man, and Thor enjoy their own regular series as avenues for character development and growth, Hawkeye struggles to gain traction in the pages of Avengers.

Take Avengers vs. X-Men, for example. Clint’s big appearance comes when the X-Men set him on fire. Before that, during "Avengers Disassembled", his most memorable moment was when a mentally unstable Scarlet Witch horrifically killed him. In essence, this makes of Hawkeye mostly a blank slate. The character has the potential to be whatever the writer desires -- just like a brand new character -- but he still enjoys "top shelf" status as a hero that a broader audience recognizes. Fraction's particular spin sees Clint Barton is a hero of the people, a champion of social justice, and a proponent of real truth. That doesn’t sound so different from a certain emerald archer from Star City.

Case in point, Hawkeye #1 is about Clint’s home. Aside from his incredible archery skills, Clint is a normal human being living in New York City with a less-than-perfect apartment in a less-than-perfect part of town and amazing neighbors. Unfortunately, eviction day has come as the building’s less-than-perfect landlord hikes up the rent 300%. Of course, Clint doesn’t stand for this.

Is this issue an homage to Green Lantern #76? While the motives behind Clint’s actions differ a bit, the story is almost exactly the same. In Green Lantern, a greedy landlord attempts to evict and/or force out all of his low-income residents so he can level the building and install a profitable parking lot instead.

Green Arrow shows up, and quickly defends the building’s residents, explaining to an ever-naïve Green Lantern Hal Jordan that ‘good’ and ‘evil’ is all relative, and that the landlord’s avarice is the real crime in the situation. Soon, Green Lantern sees the light and sides with the residents. This results in Hal's bosses, the Guardians of the Universe, admonishing him for defending a group causing chaos and disorder in his space sector.

The issue ends with one of the Guardians traveling to Earth and posing as a human to take a road trip with Hal Jordan and Oliver Queen; no powers, no abilities, just an old fashioned American road trip to rediscover how the lines between good and bad are blurred and often hard to define.

While Fraction and artist David Aja don't involve intergalactic police forces in their tale the social conscience angle certainly is a touchstone in both stories. Moreover, what does establish Hawkeye #1 as an instant classic is some of the most fluid, natural dialogue and inner monologue I’ve read in a long, long time. “Who’s a good dog that likes pizza? You are, aren’t you, pizza dog?” might seem a rather unimportant line, it speaks to how Matt Fraction has keen ear for both modern city living, and characterization.

Green Arrow is an incredible character. But his recent revamp has had its detractors, and maybe rightly so. Oliver Queen is being written as self-possessed, nihilistic and narcissistic to a far greater degree than ever before. It's certainly jarring, for me personally, to read this rebooted Green Arrow against the character's historical background of the past 40 years.

Fraction's art in Hawkeye lies in not dismissing outright the overt similarities between the two characters, but in leveraging these overt similarities to tell a deeper story. Clint Barton, in Fraction's hands, resonates with the social conscience of the Denny O'Neil-Neal Adams Green Arrow. Fraction's Hawkeye rekindles our faith in street level-stories and reclaims psychic territory lost to grittier shows like The Wire or the Mike Grell Green Arrow of the late '80s/early '90s. Even to the point where Pizza Dog becomes an emotional tether for Clint.

Hawkeye is shaping up to be an incredible series. Matt Fraction's natural, organic writing partnered with David Aja’s minimally gorgeous artwork proves that you can write a superhero comicbook that’s not all mad scientists (which, as a side note, I find there is a lack of these days), alien overlords, or mystical threats. Sometimes, the best stories are the human ones, the tales that deal with real people overcoming real situations. For Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye, that means standing up to what is wrong, no matter how convoluted and messy it gets. The real Ollie Queen would be proud.

8

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less
Features

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

Scholar Judith May Fathallah's work blurs lines between author and ethnographer, fan experiences and genre TV storytelling.

In Fanfiction and the Author: How Fanfic Changes Popular Culture Texts, author Judith May Fathallah investigates the progressive intersections between popular culture and fan studies, expanding scholarly discourse concerning how contemporary blurred lines between texts and audiences result in evolving mediated practices.

Keep reading... Show less
8

Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

Keep reading... Show less
3
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image