By: Matt Fraction (writer), Steve Lieber & Jesse Hamm (art), Matt Hollingsworth (colors), and Chris Eliopoulos (letters)
The Story: In two separate stories, Clint helps a friend secure his father’s house in the face of Hurricane Sandy while Kate finds herself trapped in a swanky hotel and a downtown in lawless ruin.
The Good: This is the sort of story that could only be delivered within the pages of Hawkeye. There aren’t any superheroes or superpowers; instead, this is a story that focuses on real people, real drama, and real relationships. The result is an extremely human comic, one that feels more human and grounded than you might think possible of a Marvel comic. Clint and Kate seem barely elevated above the average Joe and, indeed, it is those average Joes who are allowed to shine. In doing this, Fraction delivers a heart-warming message: that the antics of fictional super-heroes are unremarkable compared to the day-to-day heroism and unity of people in the face of adversity.
The result is that Clint and Kate also end up seeming more vulnerable and human as well, in the face of the everyday heroism of these average people in the face of a disaster that no amount of trick-arrows or super-punches could ever have any impact on. In this sense, Fraction also hammers home the devastation of mother nature and Hurricane Sandy: it’s a levels the playing field, with Clint and Kate rendered almost as mundane as their non-super-heroic friends. In this sense, Clint and Kate also not only seem more human, but mesh with their world and their fellow New Yorkers on a different level: they suddenly seem closer to average people, suffering along with everyone else in the fact of irrational and incomprehensible devastation that cannot be battled.
In many ways, this comic almost has a slice-of-life feel. The relationship between a man and his estranged father, the rallying of New Yorkers against an attempted shoplifting, THESE are the real high-points of the book that are most affecting. In this sense, what we get is an extremely relatable book.
As far as the art goes, it is still excellent and very much in the aesthetic of Aja and Pulido. Lieber and Hamm also both deliver truly haunting depictions of Sandy’s devastation. A splash of Clint rowing down a flooded street and the panels of Kate walking through a post-storm downtown New York are guaranteed to stick with you and feel downright post-apocalyptic.
The Not-so-Good: Straight up, Jesse Hamm just isn’t at the same level as Steve Lieber, let alone Aja and Pulido. Lieber’s work is more rounded, more polished, and simply feel more professional. That’s not to say Hamm’s work is bad, it just suffers from from the comparison. Thankfully, the impact is minimized through Marvel’s dividing the labour very well, with each artist handling a distinct story instead of randomly switching off. As it stands, Hamm’s work is often rougher and more exaggerated and not as slick as Lieber’s half or what we’ve come to expect of Hawkeye. Again though, I must emphasize that in itself, Hamm’s work is not bad, it’s just not quite at the sky-high standard of Hawkeye.
Conclusion: A really human story with a big heart and the kind of thing that could only work within the pages of Hawkeye.