Hawkeye 7, by Matt Fraction, Steve Lieber, and Jesse Hamm
I read an interview with Matt Fraction recently in which he said that this book is his attempt to do The Rockford Files in the Marvel Universe. So if I hadn’t already loved the series… That would have made me love it. As it is, though, it still informed my outlook on the book. This isn’t just “Hawkeye on his day off” as it says on the tin. It’s a book about a slightly grubby, moderately disreputable hero who’s maybe not quite as good as he could be, but who’s still a damn sight better than the people he comes into conflict with. It’s about a regular guy making his way in a bad world.
Which I already knew, of course, but…
Now it all makes sense.
Anyway. This issue. Knocked together quickly in the wake of the damage Hurricane Sandy did to New York and New Jersey, it’s something of a tribute to that storm’s survivors. Actually, “knocked together” makes it sound like a cheap cash-in, and it’s anything but. Some wonderful art and a good survival story were put together very quickly, and with the best of intentions. Hawkeye and Kate both get caught out in the storm and have to deal with it like what they are: normal people. Normal people with unusual skill sets that are really of limited use against rushing walls of water.
That’s artwork from the great Steve Lieber, whose subdued, realistic style fits this story rather nicely. Lieber lacks some of regular artist David Aja’s flash, but for this story of regular guys facing disaster, he’s perfect. He draws a nice Hawkeye, but I think he really shines when drawing Our Hero’s neighbor Grills and his cantankerous elderly father:
The relationship between Grills and his dad is at the heart of the story here. A rift has formed between them in the wake of Grills’ mother’s death, and the impending storm doesn’t make their relationship any easier. It’s the sort of story we’ve seen before (if not usually in super hero fiction), but the basic humanity of it is touching and effective.
The Kate Bishop section of the book is less moving, but still a good read. Kate, against all sense, goes to a wedding party in New Jersey as the storm blows in and winds up having to find a drug store to save the life of a woman left stranded without her medication. It’s drawn by Lieber studio-mate Jesse Hamm, whose work prior to this I’m not familiar with. His style’s a bit loose and cartoony, but he shows nice energy, capturing the flash that Lieber’s half of the issue lacks. This is probably his best moment:
So that’s another winning issue of Hawkeye, with clever writing from Fraction and art from some of the best in the business. It’s not particularly demanding reading, but it is an awful lot of fun. Good funnybooks.