Comic Reviews: Hawkeye and Superman/Batman!
After an incredibly long wait, Clint Barton is back on the comic stands with Hawkeye #13. Following up on the death of Grills, Clint must make his way through another Avengers mission, attend Grills’ funeral, and deal with the unexpected arrival of his criminal brother, Barney.
Hawkeye is well known by now as a fantastic look into the “off hours” of a superhero, and this issue is a prime example of it. Even though the plot of the book weaves in and out of issues that happened months ago, it didn’t take very long for me to remember what had happened leading up to this issue, or how this issue fits into the larger story. It’s a testament to writer Matt Fraction’s writing ability that he can craft great “slice of life” scenarios that can be read on their own, but fit perfectly into a larger story.
David Aja’s artwork is as good as it’s always been here, and it was pretty refreshing too. Perhaps it’s because of the long break between issues, but I had almost forgotten how great his work is, and how in sync it is with Fraction’s writing. While Aja won’t be on the book for issue 14, he will be alternating issues with artist Annie Wu to help keep the book on schedule, so we won’t have to wait too long to see him draw Barton again.
Despite the exceptionally long delay, Hawkeye continues to entertain. Fraction and Aja are such a great fit that I don’t mind if it takes a little longer for Clint Barton’s adventures to hit the comic stands. Clint Barton is quickly becoming one of the most entertaining leads in comics, even if his ability to screw things up isn’t as pronounced in the other titles that he appears in. Yeah, Clint gets the crap kicked out of him a lot in his own book, but would Hawkeye be half as entertaining if he wasn’t? Probably not.
Speaking of delays, Batman/Superman is probably the biggest casualty of “Villains Month”. While this wasn’t a Hawkeye length wait, the extra month to tell a kind of origin for Doomsday in last month’s Villain special really brought the main story to a grinding halt. It took me a good 3 pages to remind myself of what took place in the previous issue, and I’m still not entirely sure if I remember correctly or not.
Greg Pak has some pretty interesting moments here, but there were still some that felt really tacked on. The reveal behind the mystery of the “chaos shard” was very cool (and gives us some background on why Darkseid chose to attack our Earth back in Justice League #1). However, the explanation behind Batman and Superman not remembering this adventure seemed like an afterthought. It’s almost like Pak forgot that the two heroes weren’t supposed to be aware of one another before Justice League.
Unfortunately Jae Lee’s art isn’t quite as good as it was in the previous three issues. While some panels are appropriately moody, his depictions of Superman look even stranger than usual. Add to the fact that there are panels where Batman looks like a creature of the night and panels where it looks like me wearing a bat suit and you’ve got an uneven book art wise. Ben Oliver also returns from the first issue to take over the final few pages of the book, and while his art is fine, it’s still disappointing that Lee didn’t finish this issue.
It’s a shame that Villains Month had to occur right in the middle of this story, as I was really enjoying seeing the Earth 2 Batman and Superman interact with their younger selves. Pak really shines in the scenes where the older heroes react to their younger selves’ actions, but even that can’t raise this issue from being more than “ok”. Those of us who wanted to see the conclusion to this story will get it, but not in the way we wanted.