For over 70 years, Aquaman had been lauded by DC Comics as one of their most singularly important character properties alongside icons like Superman and Batman. Yet for all of DC’s posturing fans had never seemed to frame Aquaman as anything more than a silly, overrated merman who talks to fish. Marvel’s Hawkeye, with his gaudy purple uniform and yawn-worthy bow-and-arrow gimmick, had suffered a similar stigma throughout the years. However, 2012’s biggest industry initiatives—DC’s New 52, Marvel NOW, and Marvel’s ‘The Avengers’ movie series—have finally turned Aquaman and Hawkeye into exciting, profitable franchises.
Since its launch in the summer of 2011, DC’s New 52 Initiative has given newfound relevance to characters like Wonder Woman, Swamp Thing, and Animal Man. These characters, who have often struggled to gain readership, now star in their own self-titled books and are handled by A-list creative teams. However, no property has received as big a boost from the New 52 initiative as Aquaman has.
The success of Aquaman’s current comic run is due largely to the quality work of writer Geoff Johns and artist Ivan Reis, the same duo whose work on ‘Green Lantern’ from 2006 to 2011 made that property the most popular—and profitable—it has ever been. Inker Joe Prado and colorist Rod Reis have also made significant contributions to ‘Aquaman.’ According to sales figures from Diamond Comics Distributors, Inc. ‘Aquaman’ has consistently been one of DC’s top-selling books. Throughout the years, there have been many attempts to capitalize on the Aquaman property—reboots, genre changes, and even a proposed TV show á la ‘Smallville’ called ‘Mercy Reef’—but it seems nothing helps a property succeed more than a top-shelf creative team.
Marvel’s ‘Hawkeye’ also benefits from great creative talent. Write Matt Fraction and artist David Aja, who teamed up previously on ‘Immortal Iron Fist,’ have joined colorist Matt Hollingsworth to explore Hawkeye’s adventures battling street-level crime—a far cry from the galactic-level sci-fi threats he might normally face as a member of the Avengers. Until this past July, Hawkeye was never able to support a self-titled ongoing past a few issues. Fortunately for Hawkeye fans, his current comic shows no signs of stopping.
‘Hawkeye’ has been one of the flagship titles in Marvel Entertainment’s initiative to make comics more accessible to casual comic fans and expand readership, such as with their recent slew of relaunches under Marvel NOW. With Hawkeye’s new book, Marvel is trying to capitalize on Jeremy Renner’s portrayal of Hawkeye in the summer blockbuster ‘The Avengers.’ The film, in the hands of director Joss Whedon, has become the third-most profitable movie of all time, and is a part of the ever-growing Marvel movie franchise initiative that catapulted characters like Iron Man and Loki to unparalleled popularity.
Suddenly, Hawkeye is a household name, has been seen worldwide in a major movie, and has a critically-acclaimed, self-titled comic by some of Marvel’s best talent. Not bad for a guy in purple with no superpowers.
Hawkeye is sure to appear in the upcoming sequel to ‘The Avengers,’ and look for Aquaman to play a pivotal role in the fast-tracked ‘Justice League’ movie.
2012 was certainly the year of Aquaman and Hawkeye. Here’s hoping 2013 brings them even more success.