"Hawkeye" #3 is how you make a great superhero comic, even if it is an atypical superhero comic. I almost wish Matt Fraction and David Aja could create a pattern book that other creators could use as a basis for their work. Of course, that wouldn't work because the brilliance of Fraction and Aja's approach are doing in "Hawkeye" is that they're doing something new and different. They're also doing something surprisingly simple and honest that calls back to comics roots but effortlessly re-invents it.
The result of this new and different, simple and honest approach is perhaps the best superhero comic book I've ever read. When I read "Hawkeye" #1, I gave it 4.5 stars and thought, "Well, they can't do any better than that." When I read "Hawkeye" #2, I mentally graded it 5 stars and thought, "That is the best anyone can do a superhero comic. Period." The only question I have for "Hawkeye" #3 is, "Can I give this book 5.5 stars?"
There is honestly not a single misstep in this book. It's funny, smart and beautiful all at the same time in every single moment.
It's heroic but not saccharine. It's funny but not slight. It's smart but not self-aggrandizing. Above and beyond everything else, I think it works because Fraction and Aja are perfectly in sync with one another -- from the opening blurb on the introduction page to the last panel. Their vision for this book is seamlessly united and as a result everything works like a finely tuned clock or a flawless equation. Every page has a confidence to it that creates bold words and pictures assembled together to form a pristine reading experience -- and what more can any comics fan ask for?
One of the best things about what Fraction and Aja do in "Hawkeye" is that it works completely free of continuity -- something easy to overlook in the general brilliance of this book. Though you would be a fool not to pick up the first two issues, you simply don't have to. This story, like the two before it, stands effortlessly on its own with brilliant, funny storytelling full of heart and promises. It's pretty exciting to find a comic book you can love this much. Thank you gentlemen. More, please.