Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye is without a doubt the best book Marvel is currently publishing, and probably one of the most important books being put out today. Hawkeye is a book that is not afraid to break the mold of what a superhero comic is supposed to be. Other books are starting to mimic Hawkeye’s unique story telling devices, so it makes sense that everyone looks forward to reading Hawkeye every month.
This week saw the release of the first ever Hawkeye annual by Matt Fraction and Javier Pulido. Fraction takes the annual as an excuse to go back and re-examine a scene that readers only received half of (thanks to the poor narration skills of the beloved Arrow aka the Pizza Dog) from issue 11. Fraction reveals that Kate Bishop and Clinton Barton have had a small falling-out due to the death of Gills, a tenant in Clint’s apartment building. Due to Clint’s depression, Kate decides to pack-up and leave NYC for the fabled West Coast in hopes of establishing a new life for herself. Along the way, Kate falls into a trap set by Madame Masque and is forced to start her new life completely broke and friendless.
Fraction’s annual is a unique, one-and-done story that adds much needed depth to the character of Kate Bishop. Up until this point, Kate Bishop has simply been comic relief in the main Hawkeye book. The annual allows Fraction to take the one-note character and throw her into the deep end of the pool. Seeing Kate Bishop fight Madame Masque and create a stable life on the West Coast sets the stage for the next interesting chapter of Hawkeye. With dated, albeit inspired euphemisms such as comparing maturity to watching Guns N’ Roses “Welcome to the Jungle” music video, Kate Bishop has fully and rightfully become the second star of the Hawkeye ongoing series.
Madame Masque has always been a pet character of Fraction’s (first appearing in his Invincilble Iron Man) and it is a joy to see him penning the character again.
Artist Javier Pulido provides the pencils for the annual and they act as a cool companion to David Aja’s work. The simple, flat, basic artwork fits into the tone of the monthly book, but is distinct enough to make the annual seem special. There are no crazy story telling devices in the issue. However, Pulido’s use of repeating silhouettes is interesting. The best part of the art, without a doubt, is the minor cartoonish drawings of Kate as she provides her monologue. It’s a unique device that I hope follows Kate back into the monthly book.
While this book does not break any normal conventions, Hawkeye Annual #1 is still an enjoyable book that adds to the rich world of Clinton Barton and Kate Bishop.
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