Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: David Aja
Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth
THE STUFF WHAT DON’T GET SPOKE
Clint and Barney recover from their injuries and their encounter with the Tracksuit Gang’s hired assassin. With Clint’s hearing gone and Barney confined to a wheelchair, their spirits are low but they still have a building to protect and a gang of Tracksuit bros to take down.
The Ups: This issue features a lot of great visual storytelling. Because Clint loses his hearing, a lot of the dialogue in this issue is either muffled or non-existent—which means the art has to carry the emotions that the dialogue would have. Usually in these “silent” issues, the characters are overly expressive which makes things feel unrealistic or the art isn’t expressive enough to carry the story. David Aja’s art hits a sweet spot and allows the reader to know what’s happening and what the characters are feeling without being too heavy-handed with it. Even in the parts of the issue that had dialogue, Aja’s art added a new dimension to what was being said. This deep and emotionally rich art plays an integral part in telling the story of this issue. Clint and Barney have both been beaten down by their enemy in severe and possibly permanent ways, and this issue explores how they each cope with their defeat differently as well as how they respond to each other in this situation. Matt Fraction’s writing in this issue has so many layers to it which makes the characters feel real. There’s the surface layer of Clint and Barney dealing with their physical disabilities, and then there are deeper layers to the issue like how they deal with each other as brothers and how they react to their emotional defeat at the hands of the Tracksuit Gang.
The Downs: One mechanical problem I had with this issue was the use of sign language. While the art usually indicate what the characters were trying to say, I still feel like I’m missing something in not being able to understand the sign language. The sign language alphabet is easy enough to look up or even figure out visually, but the full-body signs aren’t always obvious and there’s no easy way to look them up (as far as I know). The power of inference can go a long way but unless you know sign language, there’s no guarantee that your guess is correct. The use of sign language was a creative touch but it seems like the readers who don’t know sign language (like me) are missing out.
Overall: This issue gives us a very deep look at Clint Barton and takes full advantage of the comic-book medium in order to do so. The use of muted and altered dialogue allows the reader to feel Clint’s hearing loss directly, which makes his frustration feel justified and real. When that frustration later turns into acceptance, it feels satisfying and it feels like it was earned. This series promised an in-depth look at Clint’s life outside the Avengers and with this issue, we get to see him in a very unusual place and we learn more about his character having shared that experience with him.
Grade: 5 of 5