The legendary 2012 Hawkeye comic by Matt Fraction and David Aja is the primary inspiration behind the hit TV show on Disney+. The award-winning comic was revolutionary and was instantly embraced by fans.
Nearly a decade has passed since its debut, but it still holds up, and indeed, is arguably the greatest story ever to star the Avengers‘ signature archer. Fraction and Aja set their sights on telling a story that melded the best aspects of both older and newer Marvel Comics. They unquestionably hit their mark. But as great as this comic is on its own, there are so many cool behind-the-scenes details that make this comic even better than anyone realized.
10 The Comic Drew Upon The Success Of The MCU’s First Avengers Film
This is the most obvious detail, but is one that many people can take for granted. The Avengers hit theaters in April of 2012 and was a landmark achievement. While there had been a few connected superhero films before this, The Avengers was really the first successful attempt to create a live-action movie superhero universe.
Each lead character in The Avengers received their own new comic series, part of a company-wide reboot branded as Marvel Now. The Hawkeye series, by Matt Fraction and David Aja, capitalized on this.
9 It Was Written In “Marvel Style”
The industry’s standard practice involves a writer who types out scripts and breaks down what happens in every panel, and an artist who draws the comic. Back in the early days of Marvel Comics, writer/editor Stan Lee was short on time. He would bring artists into his office, tell them the entire story, and then when the art was complete, he would write dialogue.
This collaborative method is known as the “Marvel Method.” Matt Fraction has admitted that he was terrified to give up control of his scriptwriting and try this method -which is precisely why he wrote Hawkeye in the Marvel Method. This is what allowed David Aja the freedom to truly shine as an artist, and the collaborative effort resulted in a truly revolutionary story.
8 A Drunken Argument Inspired Matt To Write It
One evening at a comic convention, Fraction supposedly listened to Marvel’s former Editor-In-Chief, Joe Quesada, arguing at the bar with the iconic comics writer Brian Michael Bendis. Quesada insisted that much of Marvel’s early dominance of the comics market was due to Stan Lee’s use of Marvel Method, which allowed artists to creatively showcase their full skill set, resulting in stunning books.
Bendis insisted that giving up so much control didn’t count as writing the book, and was lazy storytelling. Fraction was apparently so inspired by this conversation that he decided to see if he could try to write a story in the Marvel Method. He recounts this tale in Bendis’s book Words For Pictures: The Art And Business Of Writing Comics And Graphic Novels.
7 James Bond Was A Major Influence
There are many influences that go into any comic. However, one of the biggest influences on Hawkeye was James Bond.
Being an ordinary unpowered guy who wields a bow and trick arrows, Hawkeye is naturally suited to stories where he uses gadgets and charm to fight against the criminal underworld. Of course, James Bond is a lot smoother than Hawkeye, who turns out to be pretty awful as a spy. On the other hand, gambling, wasteful spending, marksmanship, high speed chases, and impulsive decisions with women are traits that both Bond and Hawkeye share.
6 The Main Villain Is Gentrification
There are a number of villains introduced in the Hawkeye comic. The Tracksuit Mafia are the main bad guys seen throughout, but Kingpin, Madame Masque, and AIM also make appearances.
However, the main villain of the 2012 Hawkeye comic is not a person or an organization. It’s gentrification. The story begins with the Tracksuit Mafia tripling rents in Hawkeye’s apartment complex to force tenants into the street so they can repurpose the building to make more money. This is not subtle and elements of this form a recurring trend throughout Hawkeye.
5 Clint Barton Is Absolutely Not A Hero
Clint Barton‘s talent with a bow and arrow ensure he can always hit his target when taking aim at supervillains, which is why he was made an Avenger. However, he is a very flawed character. In fact, he began his Marvel career as a criminal before trying to atone.
His criminality is on full display throughout Hawkeye, as are other less-than-admirable traits. He is guilty of many of the same crimes as the so-called villains he fights, he sleeps with a married woman, and he gets arrested during one of the many instances where he commits robbery. This last mistake got him booted off the Avengers.
4 It Was Written Out Of Order
Comics are seldom self-contained stories, but rather are ongoing series that usually release one issue every month. Every issue is a chapter in a larger overarching story.
Normally, one would expect a story to be written from beginning to end. This is not what happened with Hawkeye. Not only were the issues written in a different order than they were initially printed, but many of the stories within each issue were non-linear.
3 Matt Fraction’s Initial Pitch Was A Spy Story That Became Issues 4 & 5
Before a writer is allowed to write a comic, they must first pitch it to the publisher. Matt Fraction’s initial pitch for the series was actually a pretty standard spy story. And that story became issues #4 and #5. Hawkeye is a lot of fun and features an interaction between Kate Bishop (the second Hawkeye) and Clint that is unforgettably awkward. It also shows why Kate is unquestionably the better Hawkeye.
2 Lucky The Pizza Dog Changed Comics Forever
Lucky the Pizza Dog is an absolute delight. Animal companions can be hit or miss in stories, but Lucky is a great reason for potential or existing fans to read Fraction and Aja’s Hawkeye.
The reason to read is Lucky’s journey in issue #11, entitled Pizza Is My Business. This award-winning issue is told entirely from the canine’s perspective, where he only understands some human words and where much of the narrative is experienced through Lucky’s sense of smell as he roots around in the trash for pizza. Lucky also reminds fans why Kate is the best. The inventive original storytelling Pizza Is My Business was unlike anything seen before in comics – but many have tried to emulate it since.
1 Fraction Has Cautioned Writers Never To Try Writing A Script Like This
There are a lot of tips for creators to succeed at making comics. There is no one right way to do it, but there are definitely suggested techniques to either try or avoid when crafting a comic script. In the book Words For Pictures, which is all about making comics, Fraction gives a detailed account of how he and Aja created the Hawkeye series. He then recommends never trying it.
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About The Author
Theo Kogod (601 Articles Published)
Theo Kogod is a freelance writer, educator, researcher, and activist. They helped found the magazine 3 Feet Left as its Resident Writer while working as an English teacher in Japan. Since then, they’ve written for various online publications, including CBR, Screen Rant, The Gamer, and The Comics Vault. Their published fiction includes the prose superhero story “Typical Heroes” released by Diabolical Plots and the sci-fi story “Antediluvian” in the anthology A Flash of Silver-Green. They currently live in North Carolina with their spouse, two adorable cats, and an ever-growing book-hoard. You can find them on Twitter at @TKogod. You can also watch their videos on YouTube under the name Theo Kogod, where they post sporadically.