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WHAT I'M READING: HAWKEYE

Hawkeye coverThe Sixth Issue of Matt Fraction/David Aja’s Hawkeye is a visual treat. I’ve raved before about the pristine clarity of Aja’s art, and he continues herein, but in illuminating Fraction’s “Six Nights in the Life of Hawkeye,” Aja resorts to a startling storytelling device: his page layouts offer different arrays of tiny panels, mostly head shots but a few from various distances, plus close-ups of equipage and a clock, ticking away the calendar. Exquisite work in miniature. Fun to read and engaging to contemplate.

I’m not sure what to make of Fraction’s story, which unfolds by day and date, and the timeline jumps back and forth but to what purpose I dunno. It takes place from December 13 through December 19, and part of the time Clint Barton (Hawkeye when he’s not on duty with the Avengers) is decorating a Christmas tree with Tony Stark and trying to figure out how his tv and DVD player work.

The central event, however, occurs when a bunch of baseball bat-wielding thugs show up and beat and threaten Clint. It seems that the apartment building he lives in (and owns) was once theirs, and they’d like him to leave. If he doesn’t, they threaten to kill everyone in it. They beat Clint up pretty thoroughly to demonstrate that they aren’t kidding.

So Clint is packing up to leave in order to save his tenants’ lives when Kate Bishop (the other Hawkeye) shows up and accuses him of “running.” She’s disgusted and leaves in a huff. That’s on Saturday the 165h. The next day, we see Clint outside his building holding his bow, with an arrow slotted. But that’s not the last scene in the book.

Earlier in the story — just after Clint gets beat up—one of the tenants, a black woman with a couple kids, comes to Clint’s room to complain that her tv isn’t working and since he’s the landlord, he should fix it. He agrees.

Then, in the order of the action of the book, Clint faces the bat-men outside his building in that memorably defiant pose, holding his bow and arrow. We don’t see the ensuing action.

After we see him outside his building, armed and dangerous, the next event is Clint asking the woman and her two kids to come to his place to watch tv and eat popcorn. And he says he’s not leaving, a remark in response to her comment but addressed, really, to disgusted Kate, who is nowhere around.

So the upshot is, first, that he apparently stands up to the bat-men although we never see that happen. Second thing, he’s not leaving. Third thing, he fixes his tv but not his tenant’s tv.

Stringing it all out in snippets that are not in chronological order serves no story purpose that I can tell. The story’s theme — don’t buckle under to bad guys — gets across in straight chronological narrative. The only reason to shuffle the chronology around is to make the whole thing a puzzle. And all the tiny panels are the pieces in the puzzle.

Or maybe it’s just to divvy up Clint’s emotions. Each slice of time is devoted to one or another of them.

Interesting, but a gimmick still. An engaging one but gimmick nonetheless.

Hawkeye0001

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