This is a refreshing change. Everyone loves that image of Hawkeye falling from a skyscraper, shooting arrows as he goes. It's borrowed from Trinity in The Matrix Reloaded I'm pretty sure, and it doesn't always end that well for Clint, either — and it certainly doesn't here. Without Spidey's webs, he laments the punishing fall he can only break to a limited extent with trick arrows: in fact, we see every crunch he makes on the way down. He ends up in the hospital, which is where the issue really begins.
It's a symbol of what Fraction wants to do with the character. He's going to emphasize his fragility. Many reviewers weren't quite sure how a carnival sharp-shooter and a Russian cat burglar got to join the big guys in The Avengers anyway: we know, because comics fans haven't much problem with mixing up their demi-gods and their average joes in funny masks. But Fraction is going to center Clint's life not on the superheroics, but on the struggle this long-time huckster has to live a credible, enjoyable daily life. And on the mean streets of NYC, that can be quite the struggle.
This is the team that made Iron Fist a bastion of cool again (his era had faded around the same time as Luke Cage's tiara), adding a depth of mythology to the poor little rich boy who found a new life in his parent's lost horizon dream. Fraction's ideas and Aja's images are fueling a large part of the current AvX plot (as K'un L'un is the hideout for half the players), and as good as they were at making Danny Rand relevant, they seem intent on getting at what makes Clint Barton tick, too.
Sure, it could be the suit, or Mockingbird (some young lovely will show up soon enough, I'm sure), or international spies, or several other formulae that have all been a part of his story in the past. But none of that matters if the excitement isn't brought, and Aja's resolutely earthy art (full of character moments) and Hollingsworth sad-sack coloring make a greedy landlord, desperate tenants and a hopeful puppy more than sufficient for a meaty story concerning just what type of hero Clint is, almost despite himself.
He also throws in a worshipful paean to Cap, too, but we all saw that coming. Clint's never going to have it all make sense for him in the way it usually does for Steve Rogers, but being surrounded by criminals doesn't have to make him a bad guy. We move from human hospital to veterinary clinic for long sections of this issue, but along the way the team builds a Clint that could reasonably be played by the dour intensity of Jeremy Renner.
He shoots one arrow, two coins and a playing card in this issue — and throws a bunch of punches, only some of which land — but I've got no worries. If this is how these guys do a slice of life, they're going to be just fine when the stakes get higher and the big targets start popping up.
Shawn Hill knows two things: comics and art history. Find his art at Cornekopia.net.