"Hawkeye" #9 from Matt Fraction and David Aja is yet another issue that proves this comic is like no other. Between all the tracksuit Dracula fighting and high-stakes spy-fu, this issue slows down into vignettes to show the relationships Clint Barton has with the many women in his life. Each interpersonal connection is unique and rich with this issue standing out for its dramatic character play instead of the usual quirky action. For a "slow" issue where not too much happens, this installment is still miles ahead of a lot of other filler on the stands.
This issue is a new-wave retro romance comic that uses design and very sharp dialogue to get a lot of emotions across. Clint has been cavorting with a feisty redhead in his days off, which finally comes home to roost at Avengers Mansion in front of his many ladies. The repercussions are concise, yet brutal. The calm in the middle of this storm shows where Clint is at after eight issues of annoying the wrong people. The clouds are heavy and a storm is about to burst right over Clint's head.
The crown scene of this issue is the interplay between Clint and Jessica Drew (Spider-Woman), the most recent lady to share Clint's heart and bed. Matt Fraction writes some superb dialogue for Drew in which her heart shows through. It's nice to be given a slice of the real world problems that might face the spandex set, who so openly flit from one superpowered hook up to the next. Fraction adds a layer to the superhero world that is so often missed because creators feel it needs to be shoehorned into the action. In "Hawkeye" #9, everything stops and the damage is assessed in real time.
David Aja's spectacular design sense is made further impressive by the entire cast wardrobed in street clothes. He finds inventive ways to represent recognizable Marvel characters through codes and images, while still leaning toward their specific aesthetic. It helps that Aja draws some of the prettiest girls and outfits around. His Jessica Drew ensemble is gorgeous as well as indicative of a lot of character nuances. So many panels could easily be repurposed for Vogue ads and no one would complain.
"Hawkeye" #9 is a fun comic all about delivery. Style and execution rule this series and is one reason it pops off the stands so very well. This issue needs to be personal, look at how Clint impacts the world around him and be heartbreaking. It's astounding that readers can feel heartbreak and then in the final sequence have it all doubled down for something even worse. The final actions left an empty hole inside me because it felt real. This entire issue feels real -- a testament to some of the best writing and art produced in comics today.