Review Spoilers: Medium
It’s been a long wait since Hawkeye #18 where Kate Bishop’s homestead in LA was burned down by Madame Masque and her crew. Even longer since the pain inducing cliffhanger of #15 where Clint and his brother Barney were taken out by The Clown. Finally, after a very long hiatus, we finally know what’s happened to our favorite purple clad avenger. It’s not pretty, but it certainly feels real.
In the issue, we find out that Clint’s been deafened again. The first time seen in canon was in 1983, but in this issue, we find out that it’s at least the third time in his life. The first being after an incident with his dad as a kid. Instead of talking about how Clint can’t hear around him, the issue dives right into Clint’s perspective. Word bubbles are empty around him. His reading of lips is somewhat speculative, his speech more muted and fuzzy and each use of American Sign Language is untranslated. To quote David Aja on this issue:
“If while reading Hawkeye #19 you feel you don’t get it all, if you find obstacles, congrats, you’re staring to learn what being disabled is.”
This story is something that could only work in comics and reminds us that we’re working in a completely visual medium. The story is uneasy in it’s quietude, but that’s why it works so well.
For me, this issue is probably the best issue of Hawkeye since #11 aka the Eisner winning issue about Pizza Dog. What both these issues have in common is a willingness to tell a story in complete visuals. Whether it be with Lucky’s pictograms or Clint’s pieced together world of signing and read lips, the mix of Fraction’s writing and Aja’s art on both those issues created stories completely unmatched by anyone else in comics. Where on ‘Pizza is My Business,’ it was a fun and fluid perspective on the events that drove Clint and Kate apart, on ‘The Stuff What Don’t Get Spoke,’ it’s a raw, choppy and emotional look on what it’s like to be disabled, to feel depressed and what has kept Barney and Clint together through everything. Seriously, there’s a line from Barney in this issue that I won’t spoil that both shook me to my core and made me want to get a tattoo of it.
Not to mention the last few pages sets up the final acts of this comic beautifully. I’m not ready for this to end, but it looks like we might just go out with a bang.
Final Thoughts: This issue was well worth the wait in ways I didn’t expect. Heartbreaking and completely unique, it reminds me of what makes this comic so special and why I’m going to be so sad when it ends.