Featuring Pizza Dog, the Tracksuit Mafia, Hawkguy, Kate Bishop, and a quiver full of trick arrows, Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye series changed the perceptions of what a big-two superhero book could be when it debuted in 2012. Immediately following the success of the first Avengers movie, the Hawkeye series caught on due to its offering an intimate look at what life was like for Clint Barton outside of his '9 to 5' job with the Avengers.
Spoiler: It’s tough being Clint.
Now, with the rollout of Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we'll be getting Hawkeye on Disney+, and it seems likely that Fraction and Aja's Hawkeye run could serve as a huge inspiration given what we know about the series. The upcoming show is rumored to focus on Clint’s time as Ronin, his team-up with Kate Bishop, and their fight against crime. And since the solo Hawkeye series is said to be set during the five-year "Blip" in the MCU, the comic books storyline of a lone, down-on-his-luck, crime-fighting Clint teaching the next generation of Hawkeye how to be a hero seems almost too perfect.
In addition to the exceptional storytelling by Fraction, Aja’s art on Hawkeye was inspired. His pacing and creative use of panels offered readers something new amid Marvel’s heavy slate of similar superhero fare. (Around that time, Jonathan Hickman had relaunched the Avengers and sent them into space to battle the universe’s oldest race, the Builders.) Hawkeye was a breath of fresh air when it hit stands. Just like the book's readers, Clint was just a mere mortal human, with messy relationships to navigate, rent to pay, groceries to buy, and more than one neighbor who needed help.
As we wait for the Hawkeye series to debut on Disney+ sometime next year, SYFY WIRE wanted to rewind and examine all of the little things from the Fraction and Aja run on Hawkeye we loved and hope Disney+ writers might consider for the MCU.
Since "The Blip" would essentially leave the world in chaos, it might be interesting to take a look at the remaining survivors left in the MCU, post-Thanos' snap. In Fraction's Hawkeye series, the writer focused on the people around Hawkeye as much as he did the eagle-eyed hero. Additionally, Clint's apartment building in Brooklyn served as a plot point, as he and his neighbors had to endure the harassment of unscrupulous landlords. While several neighbors were left unexplored on the periphery, Fraction used several (like Grills) to explore Clint's psyche a bit more and deliver a few laughs while he was at it.
Clint's neighbors also cast a new light on the hero, as he finds that making the smallest effort to help those who are struggling can make a world of difference. Fraction and Aja gave us scenes like the one right here, in which Clint's neighbor Grills educates him on the proper way to say his superhero name. In later issues, Clint's neighbor Simone pleads with the hero to help her fix the cable box on Christmas Eve, so the family can watch their favorite holiday show. Turns out it's broken because there's an errant arrow sticking out of the TV dish.
Arrow aka Lucky aka Pizza Dog was one of the best parts of 2012's Hawkeye, playing a big role in solving crimes as well as keeping Clint company (something he desperately needs in this series). But the popular pooch also served as a transitional set-piece as Kate set off on her own on the West Coast in the middle of the series.
Starting off as a mistreated Tracksuit Mafia pet, the dog ends up in Hawkeye's care after a nasty accident in the first issue of Hawkeye. Since Fraction's run focuses on Clint’s time away from the Avengers and his fierce independent streak, Pizza Dog is also a fun way for the hero to monologue without seeming crazy.
Also, if you have not read Hawkeye #11, make sure you change that soon. Fraction and Aja's work on "Pizza is My Business" is an inspired study in great comic book storytelling. If anything, the MCU could benefit from more pets, with Lucky rounding out Goose the Cat from Captain Marvel and Cosmo from Guardians of the Galaxy.
Kate and Clint banter
Of course, we want classic Clint and Kate banter. Originally, Kate Bishop took over Hawkeye during the early 2010s. Brian Michael Bendis had rebooted the Avengers and cast Clint as the mysterious ninja Ronin. At the same time, Kate Bishop burst onto the scene with the Young Avengers. In Young Avengers Presents #6, Clint officially handed Kate the torch and his bow along with it.
In Fraction and Aja's Hawkeye though, we got to see a more frank, open, and honest look at their relationship. Clint, battered by years fighting alongside superheroes and saddled with loss, is jaded and tired. When Kate arrives, she does her best to inspire the old Hawkeye (and manages to do so for a while). Moments in which Clint is seemingly in too deep against villains like Madame Masque and the Swordsman are the best, as Kate shows up to save her mentor’s hide.
Equally as interesting are the more quiet moments between the two, in which Clint confesses his insecurities as a superhero.
The acid arrow, the net arrow, the bola arrow, the cable arrow, and, of course, the boomerang arrow were just a few of the trick arrows Clint used in Fraction and Aja's run, but there could be hundreds more.
Of course, we got a small look at Hawkeye's rotating quiver in the first Avengers movie, but aside from a few moments here and there, he's mostly stayed away from his trick arrows in the MCU. According to Marvel Comics lore, there are so many more trick arrows ripe for use: the sonic arrow, the flare arrow, the laser arrow, the sunburst arrow, the Asgardian arrow, the Pym particle arrow... I could go on.
Even though the MCU is based in "real life" it would be great to see some of Tony Stark's weirder tech fall into Hawkeye's hands.
Even though it was mostly used to set up other arcs, Fraction used Hawkeye's time in the Avengers several times during his run. Aja's panel right here (picturing Hawkeye fighting alongside Spider-Man and Wolverine) is a great example of fleshing out those moments toward the end of a superhero battle and the unseen fallout from fighting Marvel villains. In another scene later in the run, just as Clint is explaining that he's no longer affiliated with the Avengers, he's whisked away by a team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents into the Helicarrier.
While the Disney+ series is set to explain Clint's time post-Snap as Ronin, it would be great to include a few flashbacks to unseen Avenger adventures as well. There could be years of stories in between The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Captain America: Civil War in which the Avengers were active, possibly exploring Hawkeye's role in the Avengers a bit more.
Track Suit Mafia
Bro! The Tracksuit Mafia was great, not only because its members rocked matching Adidas tracksuits and used "Bro!" and "F**k off" equally as much, but because Fraction had them all walk the line of supervillains and everyday bad guys. In addition to jacking up the rent and bullying their tenants (something seen in everyday life), the Tracksuit Mafia also had more nefarious plans behind their real-world schemes and shakedowns.
Because of his history as a circus performer, Clint's rogues gallery has often involved the likes of the Swordsman and other more theatrical villains. To be fair, Fraction's run did include a brief Swordsman appearance but with the injection of the Tracksuit Mafia, Fraction presents a more modern threat that doesn't feel that far off for readers.