Generally, I hold a preference for DC Comics heroes over Marvel Comics's simply because I find so many of the Marvel heroes - particularly those among The Avengers - disagreeable as characters. I accept that heroic characters need not always be likeable nor do they always need to act in admirable ways but I read superhero books to be inspired and to get away from unreasonable personalities. This is not to say that this issue is badly written. Far from it. It's just a matter of what I enjoy reading and this issue... well, this issue wasn't enjoyable. There's none of the fun that previous Hawkeye issues held.
With two exceptions - Black Widow and Kate Bishop, I found every character in this issue to be wholly unsympathetic. Clint Barton spends the entire issue moping around his apartment while the women in his life are investigating - and cleaning up - the latest mess in his life. Mockingbird shows up to finalize their divorce paperwork on Valentine's Day and adds insult to injury by calling attention to that fact. And Jessica "Spider Woman" Drew is revealed to be a physically abusive girlfriend. Thankfully, Clint refuses to tolerate this (and a good thing too considering she has super strength), so kudos to Matt Fraction for refusing to play this scene for laughs. Regardless, this issue is low on action and high on unpleasant people being rude to one another. If I wanted to read that, I could go read the comments on any Yahoo News article.
At least the artwork by David Aja and Matt Hollingsworth is as fine as ever. I struggle to find words to describe Aja's distinctive style, which is unlike any artist I can think of. Hollingsworth's coloring, as always, adds another unique level to the issue's proceedings. While the story left me flat this month, I have no complaints about the artwork.
Can I recommend this series? Yes. Would I recommend this issue? No. In terms of story, nothing of note happens until the last page and in terms of character nothing happens apart from it being made clear that Clint Barton is once again single in no uncertain terms. Go pick up the TPB collection of the early issues if you want to see what all the excitement is about. There's no excitement to be found in this issue.
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