Seven years ago after moving into a new home, our family was joined by a dog named Lucky. Last year when the Avenger known as Hawkeye moved into his own solo series, he was joined by a dog named Lucky. I like to pretend this means something significant in the grand scheme. What are the odds of our dogs having the same name? Sure, it could be wild coincidence, and probably is.
Our Lucky’s previous owners were relatives who found that raising three kids was all the daily stress test they could handle. Due to a combination of the newborn’s safety issues and the oldest child’s apathy onset, Lucky had been spending most of his days caged and ignored, with nothing to occupy his time except storing energy so that every time he was released, he became a furry little whirling dervish. My wife’s previous dog had passed away several months before, leaving a dog-shaped hole in our hearts. We proposed a win-win exchange: we would accept Lucky into our home, and they would be free to replace him with a pocket-sized rodent more in line with the oldest child’s pet preferences. We decided not to change his name since he was already used to it.
At first glance, Lucky’s feisty demeanor seemed harmless.
Hawkeye’s Lucky was owned by tracksuit-wearing gangsters from eastern Europe who had called him Arrow for reasons unknown, possibly because they were fans of American weapons terminology. Lucky was abused, surely taken for granted, and probably fed the nastiest, mealiest dog food around. Something with bits of vermin added for flavor, I’d bet. During a fracas between Hawkeye and the dogs, “Arrow” ended up on the losing side of a car collision. After sending the goons packing, Hawkeye rushed the dog in for emergency treatment, effectively took custody, and eventually renamed him Lucky. He’s sometimes referred to by the affectionate nickname “Pizza Dog” because the cast keeps giving him people food.
At first sight, Lucky’s grievous bodily harm appeared alarming.
Since that time, Lucky has become an invaluable asset to our family, even though he hates that we never feed him people food. Sometimes he stares at us in puzzlement as he finds himself sitting ringside at some of the low points in our lives, or being dragged alongside us into the strangest situations. Witness this moment in which he clearly doesn’t get the concept of snow. Thankfully he achieved a greater understanding over time and no longer minds this seasonal novelty.
Sometimes Hawkeye’s Lucky is forced to sit and stare while his new master bickers with his cohort Kate Bishop, a younger super-hero who also uses the name Hawkeye. Witness this complex panel from the newly released Hawkeye #11, one of the best Marvel comics of 2013, told entirely from Lucky’s viewpoint with minimal human English supplanted by pictographs representing the various smells he detects, in a storytelling device that reminds me of Chris Ware’s Acme Novelty Library.
The occasional outing helps Lucky remain calm and centered. Whether it’s a lap around the block or a trip to Eagle Creek Park, he enjoys our attention as well as the chance to stretch his legs.
Clint Barton is kind of an inattentive dog owner so far, mostly limiting his Lucky to one or two cameos every other issue. In #11 Master finally pays a compliment to his loyal mascot, who’s had quite the chaotic day.
When Hawkeye watches Blade Runner with Lucky by his side, it’s a quiet, shared moment between the two. Lucky keeps his head aloft at full attention so Our Hero won’t feel weird talking to himself.
When we watch TV with Lucky by our side, unless we have snacks he’s trying to steal, he’s out cold in minutes. Lucky looks weird keeping a toy by his side, but it’s this thing he does every so often.
After spending the first few issues recuperating from his injuries and the next few being sidelined, #11 finally allows Lucky a chance to conduct a little detective work and perform in his very first action-packed fight scene.
Our Lucky has a penchant for attacking certain inanimate objects that might pose a threat to absolutely no one except perhaps a crowd of imaginary invalids inside his own dreamworld. Somewhere inside his noggin, tussling with excessive Christmas garland counts as an action-packed fight scene.
At the end of the day, Lucky and Lucky share little more than superficial, contrived commonalities at best — name, genus, number of legs, love of food, notable places in my life, that sort of thing. The fictional dog may have greater, wilder, even more creatively rendered adventures still ahead of him. We like to think the best is yet to come for our Lucky, too.
…long story. Don’t ask. We love him anyway.
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[Panel excerpts are from Marvel’s award-winning Hawkeye by Matt Fraction and David Aja. Fans are awarded bonus internet points every time we call him “Hawkguy”. Special thanks to the WordPress.com Daily Post for partial inspiration.]