Matt Fraction and Javier Pulido shoot a bullseye in their Hawkeye Annual.
Though I have yet to catch up on Matt Fraction and Javier Pulido’s Hawkeye, it’s safe to say that after reading this annual issue I am dying to go back and devour the pair’s back material. Strangely enough, however, this issue barely focuses on Marvel’s famed archer, and instead spotlights Clint Barton’s protege, Kate Bishop, but the book is so fun, unique, and beautifully drawn that it stands perfectly on its own. Kate is a fantastically fun character to watch across Pulido’s great looking pages as she attempts to balance feelings of freedom with failure, independence with dependency, and of course dodge danger at every turn.
With Kate storming out on Clint in the first pages of Hawkeye Annual #1, the entirety of the issue chronicles Kate’s adventures in LA as she attempts to reinvent herself and assert her independence. It would not be such a great story, however, if mischief was not afoot, and there is plenty of it to go around. What follows is an action-packed, character focused study on what happens when Kate is forced to ask for help and eventually stand on her own with no one to save her from all types of danger. Fraction’s story works well because Kate is likeable yet flawed, and her transformation from helpless to confident is packed with as many explosions as character moments.
What truly helps amplify the fun and danger in Fraction’s tale is Javier Pulido’s artwork, which feels like the perfect fit for Hawkeye. Pulido is wholly unique, with his negative space drawings “popping” off the page, especially when contrasted with Matt Hollingsworth’s vibrant color work. Pulido’s art works just as well in action sequences as it does in quieter moments, with his humorous facial expressions playing just as much a part of the storytelling as the fighting. As I return to the beginning of the pair’s run on the series, I am just as excited by Pulido’s art as Fraction’s story.
For being a Hawkeye annual issue that almost forgets Hawkeye himself, this issue is fantastic and surely one of the most fun stories this week. Hawkeye, much like the majority of the current Marvel line-up, focuses on having fun as much as telling a great story. Matt Fraction’s story, as well as the fantastic artwork from Javier Pulido and Matt Hollingsworth, is well worth the extra pricetag that comes attached to the oversized issue, and should be picked up whether readers are acquainted with the series or not.
Matt Fraction (W), Javier Pulido (A), Matt Hollingsworth (C) • Marvel Comics, $4.99, July 24, 2013.