The old Hawkeye is dead. Long live the new Hawkeye.
Ok, fine, Clint Barton isn’t exactly dead, but he might as well be when it comes to the Avengers. After killing Bruce Banner in Civil War II, Clint is now persona non grata with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, and has taken to wandering around America fighting for the little guy (in the new Occupy Avengers title).
So who’s the new Hawkeye? Well, she’s not exactly new per se – Kate Bishop has been around the Marvel Universe (mostly with the Young Avengers) for some time now, and in recent years, she’s been sharing the Hawkeye moniker with Clint, including on the recent critically acclaimed solo Hawkeye titles.
However, this new Hawkeye title, launched as part of the post-Civil War II Marvel NOW revamp (yes, they’re rebooting everything again), is all about Kate.
After events in Civil War II, Kate decides to strike out on her own and relocate to Los Angeles, where she sets up shop as a superhero/private investigator. The new life doesn’t start out too well for her though – she can’t get a PI license for one thing (calling herself “a freakin’ Avenger” on the application form probably didn’t help), and the first few people who come through the door either mistake her for an optometrist (her “logo” is a big eye, see) or are looking for the “real Hawkeye” so they can punch him in the face.
Just when she’s about to call it a day, a college student walks in with a case: someone is stalking her online, and she wants Kate to catch the guy. Shouldn’t be a problem for a former Avenger, right? Well, let’s just say that the case may not be as straightforward as Kate thinks...
While Hawkeye used to be a bit of a joke character in the past (A guy with a bow and arrows fighting alongside thunder gods, super soldiers and gamma-powered monsters? Sure.), that changed with the critically acclaimed Hawkeye series by Matt Fraction and David Aja, which established Clint Barton and Kate Bishop as a pair of odd bow-fellows better suited to championing the rights of the common folk rather than fighting world-destroying supervillains.
Writer Kelly Thompson has big shoes to fill with this title, as she not only has to try to follow in Fraction’s footsteps, but also those of Jeff Lemire, who penned the recent All-New Hawkeye series.
Happily, Thompson manages to keep the light, humorous tone that was prevalent in Fraction’s run, while stamping her own mark on the character.
It helps that Fraction’s Hawkeye was more focused on Clint, with Kate as a supporting character, so Thompson has a bit more room to get creative.
Kate’s naïvety and her unbridled self-confidence make a pretty amusing contrast, and Thompson’s witty script is also complemented by Romero’s clean but detailed artwork. He handles the action pretty well, too – a major action sequence of Kate foiling a bank robbery is done masterfully, with Romero artfully wrapping up the entire fight within two entertaining and detailed pages.
I have to admit, I was a bit apprehensive about Kate being the lead in a Hawkeye comic rather than Clint. Even in Fraction and Lemire’s runs, the more level-headed Kate was more of a sidekick (don’t let her hear that word) to the bumbling Clint, and the few stories that focused on her always seemed a little less interesting than the ones with Clint in the picture.
However, Thompson puts enough of her own spin on Kate in Hawkeye #1 to make this a lot more interesting than I expected. The shadow of Clint Barton still hangs over the title, of course (he is the “real Hawkeye” after all), but there’s enough to love about Kate Bishop here that we don’t really miss “Hawkguy” that much after all.
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artists: Leonardo Romero, Jordie Bellaire (colours)
Publisher: Marvel Comics