Wednesday, May 4, 2016

#Top5ComicBooks of 2015 - #3: "All-New Hawkeye" by Jeff Lemire and Ramon Perez

I delayed posting this entry on my list of the "Top 5 Comics of 2015" because I wanted to see how the current storyline in All-New Hawkeye was going to wrap. Surprise, surprise..the end of the arc marked the end of the book. Bittersweet, since it's not clear if Hawkeye will ever be the same.

Let me make this perfectly clear: Clint Barton - Hawkeye - is the coolest superhero in current comic books produced right now. Take a good look at what's currently on the stands these days; all the members of the cape and cowl set are serving as pawns of storylines on the whim of their respective writers. Hawkeye, on the other hand, has managed to quietly function within the successful status quo launched by Matt Fraction in 2012. Even though he's purely a fictional character, he has stayed in character, so in a way, he's solid. His adventures have a feel. They matter. He still wears that hearing aid from using a "sonic arrow" back in the Mark Gruenwald mini-series, and he's cool with it. He has no superpowers and resides in a tumbledown apartment building, but it's his home. He's got that smart cool dog that likes pizza. He's even cool with letting his protege Kate share his superhero moniker rather than diminish it with "Hawkette" or "Lady Hawkeye". His brother stole his fortune in cash, but he was willing to turn the other cheek after learning that the bum had turned fairy godfather/boyfriend to a harried single mother living in Clint's building, wisking her family with him to a newly-bought island haven. Spider-Man would bitch and moan about these "indignities" to no end; Clint took them on the chin and looked all the more heroic for it. He moves forward.

And if the future foretell a new status quo that pulls him away from what felt like a cozy haven from the noise of mainstream superhero funnybooks, then it did its part.

I actually liked Lemire's run better than the Fraction's. True, one era couldn't have occurred without the other, but I never liked the Track Suit Mob or The Clown much. What I did enjoy was everything else. All-New Hawkeye gives us more of the everything else while building up the iconography of Clint Barton and Kate Bishop by digging into their respective pasts with the three arcs that comprise all 11 issues of the series. Wunderkammer, the longest installment, sets up the main adventure about the rescue of three genetically modified children with distructive psychokinetic powers wanted by S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra while elaborating on Clint's childhood with his brother Barney as they were taken under the wing of their mentor, The Swordsman. The Bishop's Man documents a possible future in which both Hawkeyes are still plagued with guilt about their failure to save these kids - Clint never really moved on, while Kate became preoccupied with getting her house in other, both leading colorful, but empty existences. The final arc, Hawkeyes, depicts the rescue mission, the fate of the three kids and flashbacks to Kate's childhood, raised by her shady tycoon father, who will likely be the main adversary of the Hawkeyes in a future arc.

We also get the return of Barney Barton, Clint's brother. I like this character and his bizzaro evolution along the periphery of the Marvel Universe: he began as Clint's foil, a ne'r do well older brother who morphed into a teetotaler secret agent, then morphed into supervillain Trickshot before reverting back into a ne'r do well who loved freeloading and playing crossword puzzles and ultimately stealing his brother's fortune...for a good cause...well, it worked out that way - he did help with the assault on Clint's building by all those gangsters.

The letter page in the last issue hinted that "big things" were in store...I'm not sure what they could be...maybe Clint marries Kate and buys a's comics. Even though this is emphatically not the same Hawkeye depicted in film and cartoons, his is not entirely dissimilar in characterization...perhaps less inspired then the Clint of these recent comics. And definitely not as cool. If you have never read this series, I do recommend that you give it try.

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