“Well, I don’t hang out with him. He hangs out with ME!”

Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon by Matt Fraction & David Aja et al. (Marvel Comics, 2013)
Hawkeye: Little Hits by Matt Fraction & David Aja et al. (Marvel Comics, 2013)
Young Avengers: Style > Substance by Kieron Gillian & Jamie McKelvie et al. (Marvel Comics, 2013)

I never thought that Kate Bishop would be a great character. All I remember about her from my increasingly foggy memory of the original Young Avengers series was her strange code-name issues (Hawkeye? Mockingbird? Hawkingbird?) and that her origin employs the always classy rape-as-character-building trope.[1] Bishop’s recent appearances, however, have proved me wrong.

Seldom do artifacts of popular culture live up to their recommendations but Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye does.  The pitch is straightforward – these are the monthly adventures of Clinton Barton (the classic Hawkeye) and Bishop when they aren’t off saving the world as (Young) Avengers. This gives the book just the right tone; largely done-in-one action romps with enough character development to keep the reader turning the page. Most of the stories take place in-or-around Barton’s Bed-Stuy apartment.[2] This move has the added benefit of detethering the book (largely) from current Marvel continuity.[3]

Fraction makes more than a few creative decisions that really make Hawkeye sing. By casting Kate as the skilled-optimist superhero partner and foil to Clint’s dour-but-skilled Avenger instead of simply as Barton’s sidekick gives the book a fresh energy.[4] You have a non-romantic man-female pair of superheroes operating as equals – something (not particularly) oddly rare in the superhero genre. While nominally this is Barton’s book with each passing issue it is clear that Fraction intends for Hawkeye to equally be Bishop’s book as well. Credit here must go, as well, to David Aja’s smart designs. He’s given all of the characters (but especially Kate[5]) very streamlined and modern designs, but not so modern that they’ll be a pain to look at in three years.

I cannot recommend Fraction and Aja’s Hawkeye enough. That book, however, isn’t the only comic book featuring Kate Bishop on a regular basis.

There’s Young Avengers. Read the rest of this entry »