All-New Hawkeye #1

Written by: Jeff Lemire

Art by: Ramón Pérez

PublisheR: Marvel

Given the release of Lemire’s Descender this week it can be easy to overlook the fact that he’s also launching All-New Hawkeye over at Marvel with Ramón Pérez. What also makes this easy to forget is the fact that the previous volume hasn’t even ended as of this first issues release. While this surely has the potential to be confusing or easily passed over by people, this still manages to be a great comic that acts as a worthy follow up to what came before it while working hard to find its own voice.

Lemire splits the first arc of this new volume into two ongoing stories, one of which involving Clint and Katie storming a Hydra base in very humours and Hawkguy-esque fashion, with the other being a quite moving story about Clint and his brother Barney running away from home as kids. What struck me most about the two stories was the two radically different art styles employed by Pérez, the flashback stuff features almost a watercolour aesthetic and is absolutely beautiful to behold. The colours of both Pérez and Ian Herring stick to the purple styling of the previous volume while also using other colours such as reds very cleverly to show the violence the boys grew up in. There’s a real nostalgic and innocent quality to the art here that perfectly fits the story and feels fresh and new. The present day stuff on the other hand looks very similar to David Aja and is sure to make returning fans feel right at home. Things get really interesting however towards the end when the two styles begin to blend into each other creating a very unique visual layout unlike anything I’ve seen before. This truly is a book that nails the artistic front, however I will say I much preferred the flashback art as it seemed to go in its own direction rather than take cues from the previous run.

That last point is similar to how I felt about the writing in this book. Lemire is one of my favourite writers in comics and I really like his haunting and almost nostalgic voice that comes through in comics such as Sweet Tooth and The Underwater Welder, and it’s within the flashback sequences that I think his voice is strongest.  The innocence of Clint mixed with the violent reality he and his brother face is truly moving and it gripped me most during the story and left me eager to read more. The modern day story didn’t grip me as much however; it’s not bad, not at all in fact, it’s well written with some good banter thrown between Clint and Katie but it just feels a bit too similar to Fraction’s stuff (albeit with more of a traditional superhero flare). I know it’s unfair to compare it to the previous run, however the book seems willing to invite comparisons to Fraction and Aja’s run so I feel it’s worth mentioning. I can of course understand why they did it, after such a huge success they want to keep some semblance of that tone around in order to make the fans stick around and feel comfortable with the new team, however given how much sheer creativity and beauty is on display in the flashback sequences when Lemire and Pérez go with their own style and voice it’s a little disappointing that they often forgo this and try to be like someone else. I will say however, towards the end the present story takes a decidedly dark and different turn, so if Lemire’s goal here is to start out with a similar edge to Hawkguy but then move the story into a direction that better suits his style then I will admit that’s a brilliant move. A gradual move into new territory works from a character stand-point but will also enable new and returning fans alike to enjoy the book. Whila I may have sounded overly negative when it comes to the writing I would like to stress that this is an expertly written comic, however one I think would benefit from playing to its strengths more.

Overall, this is a great debut that showcases Hawkeye can still star in a brilliant ongoing comic even with a new creative team. Old fans will surely appreciate the similarities to the previous run and feel like this is a nice continuation of what came before, while newer fans can jump on board easily to see what all the fuss is about. Here’s hoping as the story progresses Lemire and Pérez will take full advantage of their unique and highly talented voices and continue deliver a strong Hawkeye comic that stands apart from what came before.