Hawkeye (2016) #1 Review

Written by Kelly Thompson
Art by Leonardo Romero
Colours by Jordie Bellaire

Hawkeye has a… strange battle to fight. While Kate Bishop is a very liked character (very easily the most popular Young Avenger, and especially mine), she’s in a weird climate where there is noticeable backlash against Marvel’s “politically correct” legacy characters. While Kate has existed for about a decade and started out with the Hawkeye name, and was even later kinda mentored by Clint Barton, newer readers who have jumped on relatively recently probably don’t know about her and see her as a replacement for Clint.  So how does Kelly Thompson go about addressing this? She doesn’t. Thompson just depicts it as another part of Kate’s life while telling a fun, unremarkable story about a lady who’s good at archery.

I think it should be lauded that Kelly Thompson only lightly touches on the idea that people know of Hawkeye as Clint Barton, while not letting it override the story and become a giant rant against the fanbase (looking at you, Jason Aaron and Thor). In fact, this issue feels largely like meta commentary more than a comic, but the fun way it’s written makes me overlook it. The plot follows Kate as she tracks down an internet stalker and harasser on the behalf of a blogger client. Having first been introduced to Thompson’s writing via her work on Comic Book Resources, this feels very meta to me, especially since she had a sizeable amount of people who really hated her on that site. In fact, this, combined with the aforementioned addressing of people expecting Clint Barton, makes this issue feel like an editorial from Thompson. And not one concerning politics or the comics’ world, but just a statement from her about people that annoy her. It works because this issue largely serves to set up Kate’s new status quo, but I hope this isn’t all Hawkeye is going to be, and I really hope Kate doesn’t just become a self-insert for Thompson.

Our actual story sees Kate truly strike out on her own as a private investigator, albeit one without a license. Why she doesn’t have a license is never explained, and is just played for laughs. And there lies a big problem with this comic — almost everything is played for laughs. And there aren’t that many laughs to be had… also, no tension. The issue is filled with Kate’s running commentary, with her joking about pretty much everything, and there are more misses than hits. However, Thompson can control herself more than, say, Keith Giffen, who seems convinced of his apparent hilarity. The jokes are short, and don’t interrupt the plot (PI license aside). Rather, they serve as a way for Thompson to establish Kate’s character. However, their presence also ruins what little tension the story would have had. The story is a largely simple one, with Kate demonstrating her skills (or lack thereof) and running into characters who will probably be supporting characters within this series, though none of them are particularly memorable yet. Here, Thompson nails the fumbling waywardness of a 20-something just starting out, with everything from Kate’s name to business logo being hilariously bad but endearing. But while funny, these moments also serve to show us that Kate is inexperienced when it comes to working solo, and that she does need help. Characters wanting to talk to “the real Hawkeye” also serves to inform the reader about Kate’s lack of name recognition and what’s going on with Clint Barton (I’m not reading Civil War II or Occupy Avengers, so I’m not that sure myself). While I’m not sure Kate was ever this much of a valley girl, the characterisation mostly works. Even if the jokes don’t always land, that they serve to establish Kate’s character and the setting means they still have narrative value, if not comedic.

When the banter works, it works well… I just wish it worked more often.

The art by Leonardo Romero is great. It reminds me of a cleaner and brighter David Aja. It’s clean and simple, which suits not only the more working class-type hero that is Kate Bishop, but the fun, slice of life atmosphere of the comic. Romero has some fun with the more comedic moments of the series, like Kate profiling people and her cartoonish, perky movements. However, when Thompson plays up the noir atmosphere of Haweye Investigations, Romero really shows how versatile he is, and how good he’d be if this series had more dramatic weight to it. This is helped by Jordie Bellaire’s great colours, as he captures the variety of moods perfectly. From comedic frustration to noir anger, the art team is versatile. If nothing else, Hawkeye #1 has really inviting art that suits the series.

That range!

Hawkeye #1 is a light, fun read that never really tries to be anything more, for better or worse. Sure, there’s some stuff in there about online harassment and legacy characters, but it’s all done tastefully while never interfering with the plot. Sure, there’s a cliffhanger and lip service paid to Clint Barton and Kate’s dad (who I think was revealed to be into organised crime in the Fraction run), but it almost feels like an afterthought and isn’t very interesting. Hawkeye #1 is an average comic. While there’s not much plot to interfere with, Kate’s new status quo is interesting, and hopefully Thompson adds more dramatic weight to her writing. As it is, Hawkeye #1 is an inoffensive, competently written comic.

3/5 – Above average

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