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Matt Fraction Takes Aim at ‘Hawkeye’ [Interview]

As Marvel Comics announced at the C2E2 convention yesterday in Chicago, the former Immortal Iron Fist creative team of writer Matt Fraction and artist David Aja are reuniting this August in an all-new ongoing Hawkeye comic. ComicsAlliance talked to Fraction about his take on the superheroic marksman.

ComicsAlliance: Where does Hawkeye fit into the Matt Fraction oeuvre, Alongside Iron Man, Thor and the Defenders? He doesn’t seem like a character prone to the sort of high-concept idea-driven approach taken to the rest of your work. In your eyes, who is Clint Barton? What’s the “kung fu billionaire” elevator pitch?

Matt Fraction: Oh, I’d disagree, but I think I have a jacked-up sense of what is and isn’t high-concept and idea-driven. Or maybe Hawkeye is small-”i” idea-driven. I think, like [Invincible] Iron Man, if i gave you the ‘kung fu billionaire’ pitch it’d give the game away. Hawkeye is as far away from books about the richest genius in the world, the god of thunder, and the Weird Avengers as you can get.

He’s the Avenger that’s Just A Dude, under it all. No healing powers, no flight, no rays, no serums, not invulnerable, not magical, not gamma-iradiated or anything else. And yet he stands with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, as the saying goes, and he’s running the Secret Avengers so… so who is he in-between? When the mask comes off? he’s the Just a Dude of the Avengers, these are THOSE stories. About what he does and who he is when he isn’t punching the clock.CA: The last time you collaborated with David Aja, it was on a mystical kung fu billionaire. What made Hawkeye the comic to reunite? Have you changed the way you’re writing for David considering the time gap since your last collaboration?

MF: It’s long been a favorite of David’s, and while I turned it down initially, I found my way in and couldn’t stop thinking about it… basically it’s different than anything else I’ve written before, it’s letting me do stories I’ve never done, that don’t quite get told the way i want to do them, and… and David’s the icing on the cake.

And I’m carrying over the scripts in my sorta-Marvel style that I developed writing Defenders, because, it’s David, he’ll just toss out what doesn’t work and make it better on his own anyway. This has actually gotten us working closer together, working out tweaks and moments, me writing to his strengths and him drawing to mine. somehow.

CA: What are the Hawkeye stories that most define the character for you? What’s the Hawkeye story that made you sit down and go, “damn, I really want to write Hawkeye”?

MT: I think there’s something tonally about that Mark Grunwald mini that’s always stuck with me; it was coming out right as I was really getting into comics, and the Peter Sanderson illustrations of all his crazy arrows in the Marvel Universe Handbook always stuck with me. It very much had that… almost-confessional, I’m just a regular guy who could believe all this crazy stuff is happening to ME? tone to it. I liked him in the Avengers through the eighties for sure. [Jim] McCann did great work with him not too long ago and I really enjoyed Jen Van Meter’s recent Solo Avengers story with him in it.

But what made me want to write him was figuring out the first page of issue 2, that was my way into the character, the world, and what it all was and why I’d want to read it, let alone write it.

CA: How long-term are you thinking on this series? Do you have just a first year of story planned, or are the readers in for a multi-year Hawkeye mega-epic?

MF: It’s all very self-contained, done in one or two stories. Of course there’s a larger arc in mind but it’s a cumulative story. I want, if nothing else, these first six issues at least to be entirely clean, hop-aboardable, no-previous-knowledge-required, beginning-middle-end Clint and Kate adventures. Which was part of the appeal to me, too; it’s a big challenge I’ve never had before. And it keeps everyone from getting bored.

CA: What kind of antagonists is Hawkeye going to be up against in the story? Other than Trickshot and Swordsman, he doesn’t have much of his own rogues gallery. Will he be doing his own thing or mixing it up with major Marvel Universe villains?

MF: Both, actually; I’d like to find him a Doom, a Kingpin, a Bullseye — every good hero needs an arch, so there’s that mission in the back of my head and a desire to bring out some other MU villains with whom it makes sense for Clint to scrap. On top of new guys we make up, either costumed and powered or otherwise.

CA: At four monthly titles (Iron Man, Mighty Thor, Defenders, Hawkeye) that’s a big workload. How are you balancing that, or can we expect one or more of these titles to end in the near future?

MF: Eh, it’s not so bad. I’ve been busier before. You just keep moving and you keep writing. I can produce a book a week, so that’s what I’m doing. It all evens out.

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