Clint: Because you’re good.
Kate: Cap is good. Spider-man is good. Why me?
Clint: You’re smart.
Kate: So’s Iron Man. So’s—everyone at your day-job. Why me?
Clint: You’re rich?
Kate: So are you now. Why—
Clint: —because I don’t want to sleep with you?
Kate: Well good. You’re old enough to know… how creepy that would be. …does this mean you want to sleep with Spider-man?
Clint: No, —I— because that screws it up. It always screws it up. I always screw it up and… and… Katie I look at you and I think you’re a lot like me. There are—I have these things I have to do. Yeah? Not want but have. Y’know? I can do them alone but I bet whatever it is that’s in me is maybe in you and…
So here’s a page that everyone has been talking about since this issue came out. Artistically, it’s pretty fascinating—twenty-four panels and it doesn’t seem crowded. Kate and Clint’s facial expressions as they have talk give a lot of read on the tone of the conversation, but of course the art is only half the story. The words have gotten more a varied reaction than the panels, and one line in particular. And while Clint’s question of “—because I don’t want to sleep with you?” is worthy of the myriad of responses I’ve seen, it’s also a shame that it’s the only one getting them. Because the meat of this conversation comes after that questionable question.
Basically, two things are happening here—Kate is asking a question, and Clint is trying to dodge it. His responses, that Kate is smart and good and rich, are nothing she hasn’t heard before. And my personal read on the “I don’t want to sleep with you line” is much the same—Clint is dodging, trying to be cute, and essentially attempting to cover up the truth of what he’s really thinking. But he doesn’t succeed.
I’ve said before on this blog that self-aware Clint is my favorite, but that he can’t that way too often or the effect is gone. So the first part of this conversation is Clint not being self-aware or pensive—it’s him avoiding that. But when the conversation—and paneling—break to just him, that’s when we know we’ve hit introspection. That’s when we know we’re seeing character. The fact that he’s looking down, at that point, and that we can’t see most of his face, is very telling.
He always screws things up. That isn’t necessarily always true, but it’s what Clint thinks of himself in this moment. It’s a distinct departure from how the last Hawkeye ongoing series began—in Jim McCann’s Hawkeye and Mockingbird, Clint was on top of the world. He had back his codename, his wife, and the Avengers, and things were going to be great. He had it all, and it slowly slipped through his fingers. His relationship with Bobbi fell apart, terrible horrible crossover events happened and Avengers died, and he’s been remodeled into new form Hawkeye, with purple shades and black t-shirts. Not everything that happened to him was bad, and he didn’t mess up that often. But he can no longer look at his life and think that things are as they were, golden and perfect. The promise of the Heroic Age proved false, essentially.
Does he always screw it up by sleeping with someone? I don’t know how true that statement is. But I can see why Clint might think it, through his limited perspective. Fraction’s Hawkeye, here and in the first issue, is a man who seems, startlingly, alone. He has a girlfriend and more than one team and more than one best friend—but he isn’t calling on any of them, here. They are notably absent from this series thus far. The person he does call on, who he asks for help with this very personal project, is Kate.
And he’s telling us why. Because she’s like him, and he feels as though they have similar motivations. Kate went through a lot recently, too. Her best friend died in front of her, her team fell apart. She, like Cint, saw herself as failing, even if what happened wasn’t entirely her fault. The things that make the two of them Hawkeye aren’t just their skills with bows and arrows—they are their resilience and stubborn attitudes, their humanity and screw ups.
And personally, I think that’s the meat of this conversation and this issue. Clint is looking for a kindred spirit, not in a romantic or even friendly way, really. He doesn’t want someone to hang out with. He wants someone who is made of the same stuff he is, who can stand to gain by doing good for the sake of doing good.
So, two take away points, here: one, I am in no way capable of being concise. And two, Clint never spoke to whether he’d sleep with Cap, Spider-man, and Iron Man, or not.
From Hawkeye Volume 4 #02 (Matt Fraction & David Aja)