Hawkeye: Freefall #6
Written by Matthew Rosenberg
Art by Otto Schmidt
Lettering by Joe Sabino
Published by Marvel Comics
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
It's Clint Barton versus the World in the thrilling, but slightly truncated finale of Hawkeye: Freefall. Faced with the brutality of Bullseye usurping Clint’s alter-alter-ego as Ronin, as well as the machinations of the Hood, who took advantage of Clint’s costume-swapping hijinks, Clint decides that it’s time to take the fight to both of them.
What follows is a bone-crunching 'day in the life' of Clint Barton, as he starts to tie up all the loose ends of this limited series in visceral fashion. Peppered with writer Matthew Rosenberg's salty but endearing take on the character, this sixth and final issue leaves it all on the field, highlighted by two show-stopping fight scenes brutally rendered by artist Otto Schmidt. That said, the slightly clipped ending beat of the issue threatens to sap some of that energy and goodwill from the consistently fun series. Despite ending on a down note, Hawkeye: Freefall #6 sends the series out on a fun and bloody note.
Picking up minutes after the last issue's cliffhanger, Matthew Rosenberg drops readers into the thick of this finale. Bullseye has shot his way through Clint's few remaining friends and allies, including Clint’s agent on the inside, Bryce. Worse still, he did it dressed as Ronin, furthering the Marvel universe’s suspicions that Clint has become a villain. And in an honestly shocking turn, Rosenberg takes it even further, having Bryce succumb to his injuries, making the action all the more personal for Clint.
All of this is sound setup for the incoming confrontation with Bullseye, as Hawkeye turns the tables on the deadly killer. Dressed in stolen Bullseye gear, Clint Barton gets into a proper scrap with the assassin, punctuated with sharp dialogue and bold scene blocking. Framed almost like an Old West shootout, Otto Schmidt highlights the precise movements and ripostes of each character, matching them arrow-for-arrow in slim panels set into one another like a finely built puzzle.
After a sudden explosion, the panel borders and backgrounds disappear, giving the further action a free-floating look to keep the action clear. They then return in bloody fashion, along with the highly focused panel widows, showing just how badly Clint is hurting Bullseye and exactly where he is hurting him, culminating in a truly satisfying final look at the defeated and immobile Bullseye.
By comparison, the final set piece, which finds Clint and The Hood squaring off, looks downright chaotic. Standing up to the Hood at his own headquarters, Clint flatly states he's got "nothing left to lose," and that's why he won't be defeated by Robbins this time. It’s a fairly terse thesis on Rosenberg's take on Hawkeye, but I'll be damned if it's not fun. Otto Schmidt then adds to the fun, smashing the two characters together in a vibrant double-page splash, sparring and connecting with kicks and punches against a stark background. It's a simple, but wildly effective show of Schimdt's talent for visual storytelling that burns through a cathartic confrontation, but in such a way that it feels like a finale.
But the actual final beat of the comic is somewhat less than. After the Hood is defeated and Clint wins the day, he simply… walks off the page. After the dizzying heights of the Bullseye confrontation and the comeuppance for The Hood, the final beat is surprisingly downbeat, and leaves the hanging thread of everyone still thinking Clint is a bad guy. Given the one-two punch of comic sales benchmarks and the COVID-19 crisis, it's a sad reality that a lot of comic books such as Hawkeye: Freefall don’t get to continue as much as the creators would like, but in execution it leaves an oddly bittersweet, slightly rushed feeling to the ending that runs at odds with the action and bone-dry wit of the rest of the series.
But even despite the sudden ending, Hawkeye: Freefall #6 is one damn fun read. Chocked full with stakes and visceral fun both on the writing and art side, this finale sends off our favorite Marvel 'bro' into his next misadventure with style, drive, and more than a few broken bones.