Book Review: Hawkeye Vol 1: My Life as a Weapon
Despite my enjoyment of superhero-comic-inspired movies, I’m not a huge person for the comics themselves. However, the buzz surrounding the new Hawkeye series has been pretty hard to ignore – it’s been praised elsewhere for its verve and playfulness. This book collects the first 5 issues of the series, as well as a tie-in issue from Young Avengers.
Playfulness I will definitely give this volume, but otherwise I’m a poor judge when it comes to books like these. I was spoiled last year by the balls-to-the-wall gonzo beauty and emotional heft of Saga volumes 1 and 2 last year (I am so happy it won the Hugo), so this is a big change of pace.
My Life as a Weapon follows the lives of Clint Barton, the Avenger known as Hawkeye, and Kate Bishop, his protege also known as Hawkeye. The two take part in the usual superhero escapades – falling off of buildings, fighting gangsters, thwarting evil plots, covering their own asses when things go south, etc – but their adventures are distinguished by a refreshing focus on the small scale. Clint goes into a seedy little warehouse casino, and after bullying a gangster, rescues a dog (aka: Pizza Dog) caught in the crossfire. Clint’s attempt to buy a classic muscle car from a pretty redhead turns into an all-out car-chase against even more gangsters. And so forth.
What really separates this book, though, is its experimentation with panel layout and narrative. Perhaps the best example of this is in issue #3, the one with the car chase. As the images show the story happening in chronological order, the narration from Clint reveals that this is all a flashback, and provides commentary upon the events in reverse chronological order. Interspersed throughout are small circular callout panels with close-ups and descriptions of the variety of arrows that Hawkeye uses – arrows that, of course, will come into play as the chase ensues.
I think the Young Avengers tie-in issue at the end is the weakest part of the book. The shift in tone between it (straightforward superhero’s-journey stuff, with a helping of romance) and Hawkeye proper (arch and kinetic) is profound. Ultimately, colour me intrigued about the series; I’m particularly looking forward to the Pizza-Dog-centric issue #11 when Volume 2 rolls around.
Up next: Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis