By Holly Raidl
Starting with the iconic line “okay… this looks bad” which is repeated throughout the series, Hawkeye #3 “Cherry” opens with a car chase which remains the issue’s main focus. One of the most important things for a reader to consider when reading (or indeed re-reading) an issue like this, is how all the aspects add up to create the overall tone. If you haven’t read the comic – which you definitely should – prepare yourself for spoilers.
This issue starts in the middle of the action, weaving its way backwards to enable the reader to understand the present. Clint Barton (aka Hawkeye) explains to the reader that what is currently happening within the narrative, consisting of guns being shot during a car chase, is his third most terrible idea out of a total of nine terrible ideas. Using these as a jumping off point, the issue then tracks back so it can eventually reconnect the reader back to the ‘present’.
One of the things which stuck out to me upon re-reading was the characters’ clothing. Throughout the issue clothing appears to be representational of characters and their ability. The tracksuit mafia are wearing their iconic tracksuits in red and yellow, and during the car chase donning matching black striped minis. The stripes match their tracksuits, making the enemy throughout fairly recognisable. Tracksuits themselves in comparison to other items of clothing – for example, suits – tend to be viewed as shabby and lower-class. Despite the characters’ expense in paying for branded clothing, there still remains an air of incompetence around them, due to associations between the tracksuit and being down-market.
By contrast, Kate Bishop is wearing her iconic purple suit with circle cut-outs in this issue. Throughout this run with the character, Kate is placed in numerous different outfits… but in this issue remains solely in this one. The only addition made to Kate’s outfit is sunglasses. This particular outfit is a one-piece and there’s something about its simplicity which exudes proficiency, in comparison to other characters in the issue. Clint starts out the issue by wearing casual clothes – namely jeans, purple sneakers, and a shirt. He looks very underdressed in comparison to Kate, making Clint appear to be less competent or just more casual about his competency. The issue really emphasises Clint’s mistakes, as of course his narration lists them out, and essentially forms the thread that holds the entire issue together. The way he’s dressed highlights the position he’s in within the story. It can also be viewed as a kind of arrogance or privilege that things tend to turn out okay due to his own power and experience.
However, it’s well-documented that Clint’s humanity was one of the main focuses for this run. He rarely appears as an Avenger and when he does (as in issue six) he’s always portrayed as slightly less-competent than other superheroes. Comparatively, Kate appears unruffled and ready for anything. The contrast between the two is emphasised due to the use of trick arrows in the story. Clint uses them with confidence – trusting his cobbled-together weaponry – whereas Kate questions them due to their lack of practicality. Their contrasting responses highlights the different approaches of the characters within the story.
Analysing the pieces of clothing which get taken on and off within the narrative also emphasises some of the characters and establishes relationships for them. On page two Clint puts on a purple and black jacket, eventually bumping into Cherry. Cherry is wearing a fairly similar jacket with red details, creating a visual connection between the two characters. Later in the issue, when Clint sees the four minis outside his apartment, he is entirely undressed whilst Cherry is wearing a black tank-top and some pants. At this point in the discussion Cherry is dodging Clint’s questions about why she is running away, and so the fact her skin is covered whilst Clint is entirely exposed only emphasises the idea she is hiding something from him. Therefore, she has the upper-hand in terms of knowledge.
Clint is so relaxed and care-free in this scene, standing exposed in front of the window, which highlights his confidence in himself despite the fact that throughout most of the issue he is clearly the underdog. This lends itself to the idea that ultimately his “careless” nature is one of his biggest flaws. Clint’s nudity is eventually used as a punchline when the tracksuit mafia burst in – the contrast between Clint, Cherry and the tracksuit mafia’s clothing highlights the vulnerability of Clint and Cherry. Clint is the most vulnerable with no clothes on at all and no idea of the history behind the current situation. Cherry shows some exposed skin which speaks to her vulnerability when faced with the tracksuit mafia’s weaponry and violence, but also to her awareness of them and pre-preparedness for the situation. The tracksuit mafia are the most covered, with only their hands and faces free. They are wearing helmets in this scene, carrying weapons, highlighting their comparative strength.
When Clint wakes up after blacking-out, he phones Kate who is entirely dressed. The clothing imprints the concept of her level-headedness in comparison to Clint, who is getting dressed whilst talking to her. The idea of him getting dressed when they interact gives the idea of the characters relationship within this issue, with Kate being able to cut through Clint’s stupidity. By the time the two of them are in Kate’s car fighting the tracksuit mafia, Clint is wearing a long-sleeved shirt. Cherry (having been kidnapped) is still wearing the same outfit, and is gagged, appearing comparatively vulnerable in the current situation. However, after the car chase when Clint and Kate leave her at the airport Cherry is wearing Clint’s jacket from earlier in the issue which on the surface suggests how he is now protecting her, although later issues cast that idea into doubt. The removal of the jacket when the two characters kiss fits with the direction of the conversation towards her independence and what Clint doesn’t know about her. The removal of the jacket shows that Cherry despite trusting Clint more, cannot be entirely honest with him.
As I said earlier, possibly my favourite thing about this issue is the use of the trick arrows throughout as a device for moving the story forward, as well as to show the differences between Kate and Clint. On the second page Clint introduces Kate to various arrows – including a boomerang arrow, which she questions the usefulness of. By the end of the issue Kate unknowingly uses the boomerang arrow, saving our protagonists. The moment shows Kate’s trust of Clint, despite sometimes questioning his methods.
As well as this, the boomerang arrow book-ends the issue by coming back at the last minute. The simple neatness of that choice certainly made me grin when I read it.
Hawkeye Vol 4 #3 – Cherry
Published by Marvel Comics in 2012
Written by Matt Fraction
Drawn by David Aja
Coloured by Matt Hollingsworth
Lettered by Chris Eliopoulos
Holly Raidl is a writer, student and critic who can typically be found writing about LGBTQ+ small-press comics over at Broken Frontier. In addition to her writing, Holly is also an artist, with her portfolio to be found here. For more from Holly, follow her on Twitter here!
This post was made possible thanks to the Shelfdust Patreon! To find out more, head to our Patreon page here!