I will give him this; Jeff Lemire is doing his best to write Hawkeye in the same vein that Matt Fraction did. This is an introspective, modern comic. The modern action sequences are intercut by poignant moments from Clint Barton’s difficult childhood with his brother Barney. This is not an action-style book, although there is some Hydra battling going on. Instead, this is a character study of Hawkeye the goof-up, his partner (also Hawkeye, of course) Kate Bishop, and their continuing adventures in a realistic world. And for fans of Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye, this thing is perfect.
But man, this isn’t my Hawkeye.
I still prefer the high-adventure, Avengers-style stuff. I realize that I’m in the minority, but I loved Jim McCann’s Hawkeye and Mockingbird series from a few years ago. That was my speed. But let’s not dwell on what this book isn’t, let’s talk about what it is.
In the present, SHIELD has dispatched Clint Barton and Kate Bishop to attack a Hydra base. The action isn’t standout, but the dialogue is pretty strong as the two heroes banter back and forth. (I’m not sure if there is a printing error, but it did seem like a page or two repeated in an odd fashion.)
One thing that weakens this conflict is the lack of a strong antagonist. I used to have a test/rule about first issues, and this premiere issue fails the test. If the hero fights ninjas, robots, or generic terrorists, then there is not a core story in the title. There is no real bad guy for us to hate yet in this issue. Perhaps it is being written for trade?
Now, in the past, Clint and Barney definitely have a bad guy to focus on. Clint Barton’s Dad is one evil, evil dude, that is clear. From knocking his kids around to the ominous way the book leaves him towering over Clint’s pet frogs, this is a bad guy. There aren’t any super-heroic elements to this story, but it is still moving.
Ramon Perez does a decent job with the art, but he has to spend an awful lot of pages dealing with normal life stuff. It is hard to shine (at least to me) with normal life scenes. The pages battling Hydra have more action, but the faded color tones keep these pages from popping too strongly too. Any chance we get to see Perez do more with the “classic” Hawkeye look and costume?
This is a FAIR comic, but probably a GOOD one who is more into this type of thing. I’m not bailing from the title, as Hawkeye was one of my favorite characters for years. It is just too bad that the current Hawkeye is different from the guy we have now.