By Kelly Thompson, Leonardo Romero, Jordie Bellaire, Joe Sabino, and Manny Mederos.
Marvel has finally released Hawkeye #1, with Kate Bishop assuming the Hawkeye mantle as she starts her own adventures on the West Coast. Sound familiar? Well, it does posses a similar feel to it from our other favorite Hawkeye when he went west to try to establish himself. This first issue has a lot of great things going on; we get tons of male objectification, witty zingers, a lady in need of saving, all of which come together to show the grittiness, resourcefulness, and hilarity we get from Kate Bishop. She is a well established character in her own right, developed pretty throughly since her days in Young Avengers, and she is well deserving of her own title.
‘Fun” is the best word to describe this book. From the character design to the panel layouts to the dialogue, everything in this issue serves the purpose of introducing new readers to Ms. Bishop while reassuring familiar readers this is the same Hawkeye we know and love. The artwork in this issue really stands out from Romero with colors from Bellaire, letters from Sabino, and design from Mederos, it really comes together to give this book a standalone feel. Kate’s costume stands out beautifully; is so perfect, so purple, and so Hawkeye. Her butt-kicking gear is great, complete with those useless slits in the abdomen, but you cannot even be mad at that because the rest of it is so on point. It is refreshing to see that she was given a fresh start, new city, new title, but same old Kate Bishop we all know and love.
The book features a really stylistic design, with dark lines that are accented throughout the issue with pops of purple and green. There is a great use of playing up the fact that she is an archer, using bullseye targets to show her perspective when entering an action sequence. These fun details really give this series a strong sense of intention from the creative team, like they have a unified vision for how a Kate Bishop title would feel and look and they certainly are achieving that.
Romero and Thompson throw in a lot of little comic easter eggs in this first issue. From the opening credit page we instantly get a feel that this book is going to have influences from the characters that have shaped Bishop, Maybe this team is paying homage to past creative teams behind past Hawkeye titles or Alias, but there are certain frames and page layouts that reflect and give a feel to past artists like David Aja and Michael Gaydos. Kate is giving the whole private investigator thing a try, which is locked down by Jessica Jones at the moment, so this issue does take some blatant attempts to emulate an Alias style feel, while also giving it the Kate Bishop treatment. It is almost like a PG version of Jessica Jones, no sex or drinking or curse words, but plenty of action and sarcasm.
The only fault to be found with this title is not within the pages, but on the front cover. The cover art was done by Julian Totino Tedeso, and it is a beautiful cover with a strong heroic pose from Bishop in her new attire, holding her bow at the ready. The colors are perfect, and it has a slight Aja influence that makes it stand out as a Hawkeye book, and all of that is great and exactly what you would want and expect from a Hawkeye title. The only thing unsettling from this is the caption that said “The adorable archer take aim — On Danger!”. Like why does have to be described as adorable? It is understandable that adorable archer sounds good together, (who doesn’t love a good alliteration?), but by using that word it almost infantilizes the character when the rest of the issue attempts to gain the reader’s respect for Bishop as a main title character. It certainly felt like a missed opportunity to use another adjective like “awesome”, “adept”, “amazing”, or “assertive” that would have valued her abilities as a super hero over her appearance.
Hawkeye #1 does deliver a great romp around Venice beach, California with everyone’s favorite female Hawkeye. The possibilities for this character and title are endless, and it is really encouraging to see Marvel rewarding some greatly developed characters their own solo book. Thompson and Romero really built something special with this issue; the book had a purpose and a voice that will come across to the readers. Kate Bishop is now Hawkeye and she is having none of your crap and can kick all of your butts. The creators laid down a lot of foundation in this issue that will undoubtedly pay off as the series gets fleshed out.