As a kid, I didn’t read too many comics. But now as a twenty-six year old woman, I’ve been trying to make up for that by diving headfirst into the realm of sequential art. I’ve generally been sticking to indie, creator-owned, non-Big 2 comics since I’m afraid of missing out on important backstory and/or references to the extensive Marvel and DC universes. But as a fan of their respective mythologies via other media, it was nigh on inevitable that I would pick up some superhero books.
Hawkeye Vol. 4 was written by Matt Fraction with illustrations by David Aja and various other artists. After hearing many rave reviews about it, I picked up the four trade paperbacks that comprise the Fraction/Aja run. The first of these, My Life as a Weapon, contains issues 1-5 as well as a Fraction-penned issue of Young Avengers Presents.
Let me start off by saying that I had little to no knowledge on Hawkeye prior to reading this book. I was introduced to Clint Barton with the other comic non-savvy plebs in the MCU’s Thor (2011) and The Avengers (2012). So to me, Hawkeye was just the “normal guy” who fought alongside the powerful Avengers with a bow and arrow. Color me amused, then, when Barton himself lampshades this in the opening panels of the first issue. In fact, you could say the whole volume is about exploring this strange dichotomy. While the other Avengers are demi-gods or wear superpowered armor, Clint Barton is just a guy trying to keep his neighbors from being evicted from their building.
The opening description puts it thusly:
Unlike many superhero comics, there are no universe-ending, global-scale issues at stake here. Fraction’s Hawkeye is more of a street-level hero. But the great thing about this series is that although the stakes may be smaller scale (e.g. the eviction of Barton’s building), there is still a weight to them since they are personally important to our characters.
*Spoilers from here on out!* Continue reading
WARNING: This post contains vague spoilers for Avengers: Age of Ultron and other properties of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including mentions of broad plot points from Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. up through last night’s episode (S2E20, “Scars”). Proceed at your own risk!!
“I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I don’t know who I’m supposed to be.”
“Who do you want to be?”
-Ms. Marvel Vol. 3, #1: No Normal
I didn’t grow up reading comics. Most of my knowledge of all the iconic characters came via television and movies. I watched Batman’s adventures on film thanks to Burton, Nolan, and, yes, Schumacher; and watched Terry McGinnis take up the cowl every Saturday morning in Batman Beyond. While I never actually read them, I remember flipping through the pages of my Wolverine-obsessed cousins’ X-Men comics as a kid, looking at the pictures. Then the film came out in 2000, and I would race home after school to learn more about the mutant heroes via reruns of the animated series. And now, like many people, I am currently obsessed with every part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
All that to say, I love the stories and mythology of superheroes, but haven’t really experienced them in their original form — comic books. I’ve read one or two here and there, (The Killing Joke comes to mind), but never followed a full story arc. As a bit of a completist, the amount of backstory I would miss by jumping in now is disheartening. Comic book characters and storylines are so intertwined; it all seems so daunting as a new reader. Because of this, I have heretofore stuck with non-superhero, non-Big Two comics/graphic novels. (For the curious: I’ve finished Scott Pilgrim and Y: The Last Man, dabbled in Fables, and am currently working my way through Saga.)
But this past year, I kept hearing about a new superhero. That is, a new person taking up the mantle of an established hero. A new character that felt different and fresh. All the reviews were glowing, and the excitement surrounding this introduction spread like wildfire. I am referring, of course, to the new Ms. Marvel. A superhero whose alter-ego is a teenage, Muslim, Pakistani-American girl from Jersey City — Kamala Khan.
Ms. Marvel Vol. 3, #1: No Normal (via Marvel)