Francesco Francavilla can draw all the comicbooks. I mean no, obviously that would make his distinctive style less distinctive but...damn, what a talent. I'm just going to provide a quick list of all the things that wowed me about the visuals of Hawkeye #10 because that seems more efficient than trying to talk about them in paragraph form:
1. As always with Francavilla, the colors were amazing, in particular the way he uses them to light the scenes. When Kate and Kazi are at their most intimate, he is lit in dull blue and her in soft pink, displaying their differences but still unifying them in the intimacy of the moment.
2. Speaking of that intimate moment, Francavilla has an incredible skill for getting across the tense calm of this kind of situation, where one character is a mystery and/or threat to the other. It reminded me of some of the James Gordon, Jr. stuff he did with Scott Snyder on Detective Comics. Lots of very close shots and panels of silence to add layers and pregnant pauses to the tension.
3. The shattered glass layouts of pages 8 and 9. All the layouts were typically dynamic and inventive for Francavilla, but that one-two punch hit harder than the rest.
4. The entire look of Kazi/The Clown. Chilling and sad in the perfect doses.
So the art, as I expected, was spectacular. Did Matt Fraction's script rise to that challenge?
It absolutely did. Firstly, Fraction was smart enough to take a step back in many places and let Francavilla run the show. Clipped dialogue, scenes of silence, conversations that we only get parts of here because we've seen them in other issues. There is as careful a use of space in the script as there is in the art, and it creates a very unified whole.
The story is essentially a character study and origin story for Kazi, a villain with a somewhat typical history but a perfect personality and approach to be a nemesis for the Hawkeyes. He is humorless, detached, always cool and collected. Neither Kate nor Clint fit that description. They're wise-cracking street-level good guys with heart. He's a heartless sociopathic assassin.
Fraction and Francavilla give Kazi an epic yet fairly quiet entrance onto the Hawkeye stage. It's a tight, crisp, intelligent issue with a shifting chronology, fascinating central character, and an ending that shocks even though it's a spoiled reveal. Applause, y'all. As solid a showing as this series has offered yet.