I adored the first volume of Hawkeye by Matt Fraction and David Aja, and was excited to jump into the next trade paperback. This second volume, Little Hits, collects issues 6-11 of the series. And bro, it futzing delivered.
No need to beat around the bush — I loved this book. Not only did Little Hits continue & expand upon everything that was great with My Life was a Weapon, it took what few issues I may have had with the first volume and fixed them nicely. Let’s dive right on in to the individual issues themselves, shall we?
*Spoilers from here on out!*
Issue #7 (Art by Steve Lieber & Jesse Hamm)
Right away, we start off with what makes Fraction’s Hawkeye great — some good, old-fashioned, street-level heroism. When Hurricane Sandy hits the East Coast, our two Hawkeyes do what they can to help their friends.
Clint Barton tags along with his neighbor, Grills, to help move some things from Grills’ father’s basement. Unfortunately, the rapidly moving floodwaters throw a wrench into their plans. But Barton helps his friend remember that family is what’s truly important, especially in times of loss.
Meanwhile, Kate Bishop is trapped at a wedding in Jersey. When it becomes apparent that one of the attendees is in need of medication, Hawkeye the Younger takes it upon herself to escape the flooded hotel in search of a pharmacy. When she arrives, she finds the drug store being looted and is sucker-punched with a can of beans. Thankfully, the thieves are captured by some good-hearted neighbors. (“Jersey rules!”)
Reading this issue in 2015, it took a moment for me to realize that the storm depicted was Hurricane Sandy, but the locations and dates confirmed the assumption. You will notice that this is Issue #7; the next issue listed in the collected edition is #6. The creative team re-arranged their initial plans for Issue #7 in order to release this special story about Hurricane Sandy. The storm hit at the end of October 2012, Fraction spent Thanksgiving writing the issue, and it was then sent off to artists Steve Lieber and Jesse Hamm for release in January 2013. A crazy turn-around time, but all for a good cause — Fraction donated his profits from the issue to charity for hurricane relief.
While this could have merely been a simple benefit book, Issue #7 still provides some great character moments for our Hawkeyes and the people who inhabit their world. It was great to revisit Grills, a minor character from the first volume, and ease back into Hawkeye with some other callbacks. (“I’m great at boats!”)
Overall, it was a great example of Barton and Bishop as street-level, everyday heroes, even amidst unusual circumstances with higher stakes. What’s more, the issue showed the heroism of the average people from New York and New Jersey who stood up to looters and stood by their family in times of trouble. I’m sure this issue was especially heartwarming in the aftermath of Sandy, but it still reads well three years later.
Issue #6: Six Days in the Life of (Art by David Aja)
While this issue was released before the Sandy issue, it chronologically comes after, taking place around Christmastime. Like several of the stories in My Life as a Weapon, this issue utilizes an unconventional narrative structure that jumps around in time. I really love this device. It’s like seeing pieces of a puzzle slowly falling together. As expected, the issue gave us more great stuff from Mr. Fraction.
One of my main issues with the first volume was the disconnect between Hawkeye as street-level hero and as an Avenger fighting crime on a global scale. Don’t get me wrong, this dichotomy is part of what makes Clint Barton a fascinating character. But the problem in previous issues (“The Tape” arc, for example) was how it was portrayed. It just felt different from the Barton we had seen and loved before. Not so in Little Hits! In this issue, we see Barton interact with and fight alongside some big name heroes — Tony Stark, Wolverine, and Spiderman. The difference here was that the emphasis was not placed on their crime-fighting actions, rather, they talked about fixing a DVR and catching up on the TV show “Dog Cops.” Sure, he’s saving the city with some famous Avengers, but this Clint Barton is still very much your average Joe. It’s this focus on the little, seemingly insignificant things even amidst large-scale problems that keeps Hawkeye grounded and real. And in my opinion, that’s what makes this book great.
Issue #8: My Bad Penny (Art by David Aja & Annie Wu)
Now, this is what I’ve been waiting for! We’ve gotten to the point in Hawkeye continuity where the seemingly disparate plot threads have started to intertwine into a more cohesive story arc.
The issue begins with the re-emergence of the woman from Issue #3: “Cherry.” It turns out she is the ex-wife of a high-ranking member of the “Tracksuit Mafia,” and she reappears to enlist Clint’s help in robbing the aforementioned Bro-men of a certain safe. This being Hawkeye, it does not go to plan.
This issue also brings two groups of side-characters to the forefront. The first of these is the trio of female Avengers — Natasha Romanova, Bobbi Morse, and Jessica Drew — who catch Barton kissing “Cherry” in the foyer of Avengers Mansion. More on these ladies next issue…
The second group is actually a reintroduction from the first volume. We see the return of the city’s major villains (lead by Kingpin) who are still angry about the events of Issue #2, in which they believe Hawkeye (and Hawkeye) have robbed them. This leads to an alliance between the Tracksuit Mafia and rogues’ gallery bigwigs, who put a hit out on Barton. Dun dun dunnn!
Issue #9: Girls (Art by David Aja)
The titular girls:
- The Work Wife: Natasha Romanova, aka Black Widow
- The Ex-Wife: Bobbi Morse, aka Mockingbird
- Kate: Kate Bishop, aka Hawkeye
- The Friend-Girl: Jessica Drew, aka Spider-Woman
With all of the hullaballoo surrounding the unexpected arrival of “Cherry” (aka Darlene Penelope Wright, aka Penny), the women of Clint Barton’s life decide to check in on our Hawkguy.
I really loved this issue. It was great to see some more big name heroes play a role, and how each of the three Avengers interacted with Barton and his issues. Natasha does what she does best with some spy work. She tracks down Penny and uncovers the plot that has been brewing in the background of this series from Issue 1 through 8:
“Say you have to kill the Avengers. Make a list: Who do you kill first? The regular guy.”
The Fraction/Aja Hawkeye has been all about Barton as “the regular guy,” but it wasn’t until last issue that we see how it all fits together. Kingpin and the rogues’ gallery aren’t looking to kill Barton merely for his street-level antics, his death would be their first step on the way towards taking out the Avengers as a whole.
The interplay between Bobbi and Clint was really interesting. I knew that the characters had been married, but am not familiar with the terms of their break-up. All in all, you can tell that Bobbi still cares about Clint and notices that he’s a bit “off.”
Jessica Drew is probably the character I know the least about of the three. Apparently she and Clint were dating (at least, he thinks so… maybe… Friend-girl?), so she (understandably) takes his hookup with Penny poorly.
Lastly, we have Kate. Our dear Lady Hawkman. The Hawkeye-Hawkeye relationship is one of the best things about this series. Though she constantly teases Barton and tosses around sassy quips, it’s clear that Kate truly cares for him as a friend/partner/mentor. After being confronted by the three Avengers, Kate makes an effort to warn Barton about their arrival and rushes to his aid.
Over the course of the series thus far, Clint Barton has put a lot on his plate and made some bad decisions. The man is currently a total mess and worn-down by it all. While his sorry state is bad enough, there is more danger looming on the horizon. That being said, it’s great to see these kick-ass ladies are keeping an eye out for him.
Then suddenly… cliffhanger! As I sat reading this alone in bed, I yelled “Nooo!” outloud to no one in particular. I’m not sure what Issue #7 was initially going to cover, but the inclusion of Grills and his emotional arc in that story really helped push the final scene in #9 into something more powerful.
Issue #10 (Art by Francesco Francavilla)
First of all, let me just say that the style and colors in this issue were phenomenal. A+ to Francesco Francavilla. The narrative component of this issue was also interesting in that it focused on a new character, Kazi, and played out as a sort-of origin story.
The art, the colors, the knowledge of who this man would become and what he would do — it all lead to an ominous tone throughout the book. Beautifully done; I really liked this issue.
The final pages also give us a glimpse into Barton’s further downward spiral and pushing Kate away. Which leads us nicely into the trade’s conclusion…
Issue #11: Pizza is My Business (Art by David Aja)
Pizza Dog! Okay, this issue was genius. A story told with little-to-no dialogue from the dog’s point of view. This easily could have been a normal issue. There are several key developments that could have been dialogue-heavy moments with loads of pathos, but instead, we experience them off-screen or as mere contextual hints. Brilliant.
What’s more, the way that the creative team used little icons to show Lucky’s thought processes was adorable and clever. All in all, an excellent issue, and a great way to end this book.
In the final moments of “Pizza is My Business,” we see Lucky the Pizza Dog take off on a cross-country trip with Kate. It’s inferred that she leaves due to a bit of a falling out with Clint and not wanting to be around as he self-destructs. But, seeing as we only caught glimpses of their conversations, we can’t know for sure why she left and to what end. Right now, we can only guess what Kate will be doing in California…
Luckily for us, the next trade is entitled L.A. Woman. So it looks like we’ll be catching up with her imminently!
Until then, good readers…