It's here. The last issue. It's over.
On some level, this series was everything great about modern comics. Fraction and Aja no longer felt constrained by the traditional forms of storytelling that dominate the industry, and they were able to use this freedom to experiment and innovate. That innovation is present throughout this final issue, with Fraction having the Clown swear by saying "[curse in Polish]" and Aja providing designs that show how the gun mechanism that the Clown has hidden up his sleeve (literally) works. It's clear that comics are going to look and sound this way in the future, and you have to give enormous credit to Fraction and Aja for that.
But, this series wasn't perfect, and I'm not talking about the delays. If you read the reviews that most people give it, you'd be forgiven for thinking that it is. But, it isn't, at least for me. Sana waxes poetic in the letters page about the fact that this series was successful in part because Clint is relatable: he's a regular guy with great aim. But, he's not. Not really. After all, he, Barney, and Pizza Dog all once again survive gun shots that should've left them dead. It's at least the second (if not the third) time in this series that each of them has survived such an attack and, as a result, it felt incredibly anti-climatic. (It might've had a little more impact if it had appeared before the new series debuted, since we already knew at least Hawkeye and Pizza Dog survived.) Fraction just kept going to this well too often in this series to make it feel credible. In fact, it was the opposite of innovative; it started feeling like Aunt May getting kidnapped, where you expected every issue to end with someone "dead." On some level, it's easier to believe that Ian survived Zemo's attack in "All-New Captain America" #2 because he is actually super-human. Here, I'm left to wonder why I'm so afraid of Ferris wheels, since in Fraction's world Hawkeye could probably fall from one and be OK.
But, it's not just that Fraction bent the rules too much when it came to portraying a "regular guy." I could live with that, since it's not like I expect such realism in my comics. I'm also left with no clear idea of how the story that has fueled this series for the last two years gets resolved. When Kate confronts one of the bros in Clint's apartment, he dares her to shoot him, because he can easily be replaced by one of the other Tracksuit Draculas. But, we never learn why he and the other Draculas are so committed. It's not like he's some sort of cult member; he's part of an organized-crime group trying to pull off a real-estate swindle (one that I still don't completely understand). After 22 issues, I really feel like I should have a better understanding of their motivations, particularly why they're willing to sacrifice their lives for their employer. It goes to another point that I've made, about why Clint is willing to jeopardize the lives of his neighbors to protect the building when he had enough money to simply buy a new one.
Fraction also leaves a number of other loose ends. Mockingbird forges Clint's signature on some forms (with him standing next to her), but we never learn what sort of forms they are. Is he signing over the building to the Avengers? We also have a group of super-villains, including Kate's father, decree that the Hawkeyes will die, but I'm not sure if Lemire has any intention of picking up that story. They're just out there, like Fraction couldn't accept the fact that he was ending the series and wanted to give us a hint of where he would've gone with it.
In other words, I don't really understand any of it. Clint got shot a bunch of times, Kate went to Los Angeles where she talked to a dead guy that wound up not being dead, and together they managed to prevent some sort of mafia from buying his building. That's it, really. Some people seem to have found more in it than I did, and I'm glad for them. For me? Even Pizza Dog wasn't enough to save it for me.
*** (three of five stars)