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This week, Marvel's Hawkeye finally makes its debut on Disney+. But, for a certain kind of fan, Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) is not the most exciting part of this new series, and neither is his protege, Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld). No, for some veteran Hawkeye readers, the anticipation for the streaming series all comes down to two words: Pizza Dog.
Sure, Hawkeye's first solo adventure in the MCU no doubt has plenty of other things to offer, from its Christmastime setting to its action to its banter between the two leads. But a one-eyed dog named Lucky has already stolen the hearts of many fans eager to see how his story plays out, thanks to this fan-favorite canine's major presence in the most celebrated Hawkeye comics run of all time. So, before he arrives on the popular streamer, let's take a look back at Lucky's comics debut, his importance to Hawkeye, and that time he found a way to solve a murder.
Hawkeye's best friend
When Lucky debuted in the pages of Hawkeye Vol. 4 #1 in 2012, things didn't look great for our four-legged friend, because the very first time we saw him, this happened:
But wait, let's back up just a second.
Hawkeye, from writer Matt Fraction and artist David Aja, was designed as the story of what Hawkeye "does when he's not being an Avenger." In the comic series' debut, that featured Clint involved in a dispute with a local group of gangsters (dubbed "Tracksuit Draculas," thanks to their wardrobe and vaguely Eastern European demeanor) over his apartment building, where several of his neighbors were about to be evicted. In the midst of this dispute, Hawkeye came across a dog that happened to belong to one of the tracksuits and befriended him by giving him a bite of pizza, hence the "Pizza Dog" moniker.
In the skirmish that followed, the dog was gravely wounded, losing an eye in an effort to both shake his abusive masters and help out his new friend Hawkeye. Thankfully, the vet managed to patch Pizza Dog up enough for Clint Barton to take him home to his apartment building — which Clint ultimately bought, robbing the Tracksuits of their eviction opportunity and gaining mortal enemies in the process — and help him heal. Along the way, Clint discovered that the dog's real name was "Arrow." Feeling that was perhaps just a bit on-the-nose, he instead christened the resilient pup "Lucky.
According to Fraction, the dog's injuries and eventual salvation stemmed from his own real-life loss of the family dog as he was trying to crack the story for Hawkeye's first issue.
"So I gave him to Hawkeye," Fraction said. "I gave him this beat up mutt who was neglected and ignored. And as I started to kind of write and give him this kind of emotional thing he was connected to, like, the character’s animal appeared. That was it, it wasn’t a hawk — it was a dog. And then I got the book. I understood what the book was. I knew what happens. I knew what it was about. And if I couldn’t save Captain Applejack, Hawkeye could save Lucky."
"Pizza Is My Business"
As the Hawkeye series neared the end of its first year at Marvel Comics, Lucky the Pizza Dog had become one of the publisher's most popular supporting characters, so much so that Fraction and Aja conceived a daring notion: What if they told an entire story from the dog's point-of-view?
The result was Hawkeye #11, "Pizza Is My Business," a story set in between beats of Clint Barton and Kate Bishop's story, as Lucky goes wandering and happens upon the body of one of Clint's neighbors, who was recently gunned down on the building's roof. Through his keen powers of observation, Lucky was able to essentially solve the murder, and point Clint in the direction of vital clues that would lead him to the people responsible.
What's even more notable than that, though, is the sheer amount of attention to detail and craft that went into this issue. Fraction's dialogue is framed so that only words that a dog like Lucky would understand are legible. In addition to that brilliant creative choice, Lucky's perception of the world is framed around smells and basic memories — even the coloring is done to reflect a dog's unique perceptions. It all adds up to pages that look like this:
"Pizza Is My Business" won the 2014 Eisner Award for Best Single Issue, so the whole dog's eye view of things paid off.
Lucky: Dog of Two Hawkeyes
So, we know how Lucky is introduced in the comic, but while we don't yet know exactly how he makes his entrance in the Disney+ series, it's safe to assume a certain core dynamic will remain in play. You see, even though Clint adopted him and saved him and took him, Lucky isn't just Clint's dog in the comic. He's just as loyal, if not more so, to Kate Bishop; so much so that he spends half the Fraction series with her.
After its first year of issues, Hawkeye split into a bi-coastal book, as Fraction told alternating stories of Clint in New York and Kate out in Los Angeles, where artist Annie Wu handled the visuals. While we don't necessarily see the Disney+ show heading out to LA, the key ingredient there, as far as Lucky is concerned, is that he chose to go West with Kate for those issues. So, if the dog ends up favoring the younger Hawkeye, don't be too surprised.
Hawkeye premieres November 24 on Disney+.