OK, I like comics where I have to put in effort. I do. They annoy me at times, but it doesn't mean that I don't see the endeavor as worth it. As I predicted last issue, Fraction fills in the gaps here, making me retroactively appreciate the last three issues. Well, I actually appreciated last issue, to be honest. So, I guess that I now retroactively appreciate issues #10-#11.
On some level, we actually don't really know more than we did last issue. We still have no idea why the Clown killed Grills. He seemed to have killed him, based on the information that we had in issue #10, because he was in love with Kate and thought that Clint was also in love with Kate (as opposed to Jessica). But, in this issue, it seems to have more to do with the bros, as it sort of did last issue as well.
But, this issue fills the emotional gaps, if not the plot ones. We see Kate make a passionate speech to Clint on the way to Grills' funeral, telling him that they're a team and that they both know that they're the people that they want to be when they're acting like one. However, Clint sleeps through it, setting up Kate's departure with Lucky later in this issue; we originally saw it happen at the end of issue #11 and again in issue #12. We also see the full conversation between the cops and Clint about Grills' death; previously, we had only seen it through Lucky's eyes (without dialogue, natch) in issue #11. We see Clint tell Grills' dad that he was killed, because he didn't want him to hear about it on the phone, satisfying my request in issue #11 that we eventually see Clint's emotional response to Grills' death. Finally, we see Clint discover the shoe that presumably fell when Pizza Dog attacked the bro (in issue #11) and we realize that Barney was in the bathroom while Kate fought with Clint (in issue #11 and #12).
Essentially, we realize how much Clint's life has taken a dive in the last three issues, how much Clint's supporting cast is in flux. Kate has been replaced by Barney not only on the title page but in his life. (Presumably, the events of the annual have happened and she's currently in space with the Young Avengers, based on Gillen's comments about coordinating with Fraction in a previous letters page.) I loved Fraction mentioning Barney threatening to kill Clint in "Hawkeye: Blindspot," since it confirms my sense that he's trying to bring together all the disparate portrayals of Barney into a definitive one. ("I threatened to kill a backpack just a second ago...") We also see Jessica make it clear that it's over between them for now, one more person no longer there for him when he needs it, once again his fault. In the end, Fraction shows how he's left with his family in the building, making it all the clearer why Grills' death is a big deal in the first place.
As Kate said here, I am totally ready for the full-on assault on the bros and the Clown. It's time. Now that Fraction has brought Clint to the place where he is now, chronologically and emotionally, I want me some revenge.
**** (four of five stars)