10 Best Issues Of Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye, Ranked

Matt Fraction has contributed to several heroes’ mythology, including the likes of Iron Fist, Iron Man, and the X-Men. Most comic readers know the writer best for his exemplary run on Hawkeye #1-22. This legendary tenure is further honored in the Disney+ series bearing the same name, on which Fraction serves as a consultant.

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The entire first season is primarily adapted from his material in these issues, including Hawkeye’s encounters with the Tracksuit Mafia as well as his training of Kate Bishop. For fans of the streaming series, a precise collection of the best from Fraction’s run may be enough to fill the time between the character’s next appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

10 Issue #7 – New Jersey Recovers From Disaster

Fraction tackles real-world parallels in Hawkeye #7 by having New Jersey face the historical Hurricane Sandy, which hit the New York area in October of 2012. The story is a simple one, depicting Clint Barton and Kate Bishop during the recovery efforts. This leads to an immaculate human angle and allows the heroes to shine outside of their costumes. The fact that Fraction donated the proceeds to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts makes this story all the more special to Hawkeye fans.

9 Issue #2 – Hawkeye Does The Robin Hood Thing

The Vagabond Code depicts several memorable events that resemble the Disney+ series. The use of cars and trick arrows while performing feats of archery originates here. The general outline of the story fits in with the gimmick of Robin Hood: stealing from the rich to give to the poor.

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There’s no way that comparison cannot be addressed in a Hawkeye title, but Fraction manages it with style and gives the archer an iconic scene all his own.

8 Issue #6 – The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

The signature Christmas theme that imbued Hawkeye with such charm finds its beginnings in this holiday story. Clint is attempting to competently run his apartment complex, complete with a cast of interesting tenants that challenge both his charity and patience. Artist David Aja returns following an absence and the story is all the better for it as if reflecting a family coming home for the holidays. The rather dimwitted antagonists, the Tracksuit Mafia, makes their presence known here, too. It should quickly become clear how much Fraction’s stories impacted the development of the Disney+ series.

7 Issue #9 – Hawkeye, Meet The Clown

The debut of a major foe in Hawkeye‘s modern mythology hits in #9: the Clown. A rather mysterious foe, he came to America after his family of circus performers was killed in a firefight.

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The Clown dons a Saw-inspired clown makeup that hues in grays and blacks and is with the Tracksuit Mafia, who also returns. While this villain was absent from the live-action series, it’s a safe assumption that he may appear in the future.

6 Issue #8 – Cherry’s Got A Gun

Featuring cameos from Spider-Woman, Kingpin, and Typhoid Mary, issue #8 finds Hawkeye in a vulnerable position. It seems he’s a bit distracted by Penny Wright a.k.a. Cherry, the wife of a member of the Tracksuit Mafia. She tries to escape, inevitably receiving assistance from Clint. A staple of Fraction’s run is his uniquely human portrayal of Hawkeye, which continues here.

5 Issue #15 – Hawkeye Is Trapped

Clint has a complicated history with his brother Barney, which is further developed in issue #15 as the two are trapped in a building together. The Clown’s forces are closing in and the brothers Barton are exposed if they try to escape.

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Stuck for nearly an entire week, this issue slows the action down and takes the time to allow for intimate character moments between the two siblings. It’s interesting that Hawkeye‘s showrunners chose not to include Barney Barton in the first season.

4 Issue #3 – Because… Boomerangs

A uniquely comedic issue, #3 has a great moment where Kate explores her mentor’s trick arrows while he offers his comments. Hawkeye has never been funnier than in Fraction’s run, particularly this issue, and it sets the foundation to further flesh out Clint and Kate’s relationship down the line. Another charming moment comes when Kate genuinely asks why her teacher has boomerang arrows that return after they are shot. Because, Clint nonchalantly replies. Boomerangs.

3 Issue #21 – It Begins To End

Hawkeye. His brother Barney. The Tracksuit Mafia. The Clown and… Spider-Woman? Yet Kate Bishop is not invited back for this penultimate issue on Fraction’s run. It all starts to come to a head in this issue and the stakes rise with every flip of the page and edge of the panel. Readers find themselves reluctant to even discover the fate of their favorite archer thanks to the intense storytelling and pacing thanks to Fraction’s dedication to concluding his run on top.

2 Issue #22 – It Continues To End

Matt Fraction’s final issue of Hawkeye lives up to the quality established in the previous 21 stories. Kate Bishop returns to aid Clint in this consequential finale against the Clown and his Tracksuit Mafia.

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It’s a bittersweet issue as it’s both a reaffirmation of the character as well as a goodbye from Fraction. As an author, he elevates the character of Hawkeye to the importance he possesses in comic circles today.

1 Issue #11 – Lucky The Pizza Dog

Adorably titled Pizza Is My Business, Matt Fraction’s most inventive issue comes in #11. The entire story is told from the perspective of Hawkeye’s pet, Lucky. The canine Avenger is tasked with solving a murder and the issue is more engrossing than many readers may expect. This epitomizes Fraction’s legacy in regards to Hawkeye: through ambitious experimentation, a character can be compellingly reinvented for modern audiences.

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