A new issue of HAWKEYE is finally here! Whether it's worth the wait will differ from reader to reader, but I will say writer Matt Fraction uses Clint Barton's condition to craft a chapter that's all about character depth and buildup. Dialogue is minimal yet he's still able to tell a thoroughly engaging story as we get a little more insight into Barton's personality and his dynamic with his brother, Barney. The approach gives a proper spotlight on the titular hero and makes us fall in love with his brother just a little more, too. The messages Fraction delivers are direct yet still fairly meaningful. And, while I'm not the biggest fan of the approach (see "The Bad"), you have to give the creative team credit for bringing sign language to the forefront. Maybe -- just maybe -- it'll inspire some people to learn the language.
I won't spoil it, but I will say I'm very pleased by a course of action Clint takes in this issue. I mean, the guy's in a conflict with a group called the Tracksuit Mafia and he's an Avenger. You'd think this shouldn't be a big obstacle for him and it's nice to see he finally does something that fans often ask about after seeing a Marvel Studios movie. The cliffhanger won't leave your jaw dropped, but it'll absolutely leave you wanting more. Oh, and Fraction of course finds a new way to make us laugh at the bros. You can't help but love that.
Artist David Aja and colorist Matt Hollingsworth prove once more they're a perfect match for Fraction's unique storytelling. The characters look every bit as beat up and empathetic as they should and the lack of dialogue allows the two to focus on selling the narrative visually. From the passionate expressions to the way panels are focused (love how the final act is presented), it should come as no surprise that this duo is able to deliver some excellent pages yet again.
Clint's deaf and, just like him, the reader is in the dark when it comes to the dialogue. As expected, Fraction and Aja are able to handle this creatively and instead show us all of the sign language that is being used. For some, this will inspire them to learn sign just to see what is being expressed and it's respectable they put so much effort into this method. However, if you have a lot of new comics on your pull list, odds are you'll just accept being a little in the dark and move on to your next read. It's a big risk and I imagine some of you out there will really dig it, but I feel like the use of sign language panels was a little too excessive. I loved the bits with blank dialogue boxes and we needed to read the expressions in the panels to attempt to get a grip on what was happening, so it would have been preferred to see a little more of that over the alternative. Aja's panels are so great and I loved being forced to analyze each and every detail, so to see a little more of that would have been a very welcome challenge.
Look, there's no way going around it: the delay is a major bummer. Waiting this long to follow-up such a powerful cliffhanger takes a toll on your interest. Don't get me wrong, the creative team is still going strong, but I'm sure a large number of us had our interest slightly lessened by the time this chapter finally arrived.
Matt Fraction, David Aja, and Matt Hollingsworth continue to prove HAWKEYE is one of the most creative and immersive books Marvel is publishing. Many of us likely won't be motivated enough to take the extra time to learn sign language just to see the extra dialogue in this issue, so the tactic does take a bit of a toll. But all in all, it's another solid chapter in a superb series. The layouts bring you right into Clint Barton's rundown world and, while there isn't much dialogue, Fraction's still able to tell a powerful and meaningful story. Let's just hope we don't have wait so long for the next chapter of Clint and Barney's adventure!