Even though life hasn’t given most of us much to smile about in the last twelve months, one of the things that made me think that maybe lockdown wasn’t going to be so bad after all was finding out that Matthew Rosenberg had been put in charge of guiding Hawkeye’s destiny. The Avenger’s resident archer and ever present anti-hero has always been, and probably always will be the second best member of the team (what can I say, I’m a Cap guy), but with Rosenberg in charge of his future, whether he’ll ever be able to return to the group where he made his name is debatable at best.
Rosenberg has a way of getting under the skin of the characters he writes, discovering what really makes them tick and using that to twist them into multiple knots as they try to do the right thing while battling their own, often overwhelming hubris. He did it to Frank Castle, and in Freefall he’s thrown Hawkeye to the sharks, to find out if he’ll sink or swim and whether he’ll go down fighting or drag everyone that he knows and cares about down to hell with him.
Obsession can be terrible thing especially when its fed by a combination of arrogance and ego and Hawkeye’s fixation with bring The Hood to justice and grinding his criminal empire to dust proves to be his, and his foes, undoing in Freefall. Playing his friends and enemies off against each other while using them to achieve his goal is the least of Clint’s “crimes” in Rosenberg’s story that sees him sacrifice everything he once held dear in pursuit of his goal.
Removing Barton’s mask and revealing who he really is underneath all of the bluster allows Rosenberg to paint a very human picture of a man who has always been driven to be the best, but never believed that he deserved to, or could be, and creates an incredibly personable, funny and at times moving tale of a hero hell-bent on destroying his own legacy. Otto Schmidt’s detailed and intricate art grants Rosenberg’s narrative a raw gravitas that makes each panel and every page a delight to read. Sometimes we need to hit rock bottom in order to pick ourselves up and find out who we really are, and in Freefall, Hawkeye finds out just how far a man can fall when he bets everything on red and life stacks its chips on black… Tim Cundle