Hawkeye Volume 3: L.A. Woman (Collecting: Hawkeye #14, 16, 18, 20, Annual 1)
Volume 3 chronicles Kate Bishop’s time after she leaves New York (and her partnership with Clint Barton) following the funeral of Grills and an argument with Clint, which we see in bits and pieces across several individual issues. This volume was unfortunately my least favorite, not because I don’t like Kate, I do, but more so because the narrative doesn’t balance Kate out with an equally strong character. Also, I really felt the absence of David Aja on the artistic side of the scale.
Narratively Kate hits wall after wall as nothing goes an anticipated, for her or the reader. When Kate arrives in L.A. and tries to check in to her hotel her card is declined, and her car repossessed. Enter Kate’s nemesis, Madame Masque who has it out for Kate following the events of Volume 1. Kate has been cut off by her father and must find her own way in L.A., deciding to open her own superhero detective agency, which goes terribly. Kate is great, but not cut out for the work she undertakes, particularly as she keeps running up against Madame Masque who seems to be pulling all the strings. My problem with the narrative hinges on this, from page to page and issue to issue I constantly felt I was on the backfoot, that I was simply missing important information and there were plot holes. Which, there may have been, but at the end of the day I was left dissatisfied. While I was reading Volume 4 I went back and re-read the individual volumes as they would have fit in to the chronological order and that helped some. I understand splitting the issues the way they did, but I didn’t enjoy it much.
Hawkeye Volume 4: Rio Bravo (Collecting: Hawkeye #12-13, 15, 17, 19, 21-22)
This volume was my favorite of the two, but still uneven. The volume finds us back in New York with Clint. The issues contained in this volume are back onto the creative experimentations we saw in the earlier volumes. Issue 17 goes on an adventure in Clint’s dreaming mind as he envisions an Avenger adventure where he and his compatriots are the Winter Friends. It does a good job of encapsulating the tenor of the previous volumes and highlighting Clint’s instinct to go it alone. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s a good Christmas read, if you’re on the hunt for something holiday adjacent.
We are introduced to Barney Barton, Clint’s brother, as he arrives in New York worse for wear. From there we get a Fraction and Aja led homage to westerns (the volume is titled Rio Bravo after all) as Clint must protect the building from the Tracksuit Bros and the assassin out to get him, whom killed Grills. It could all have gone so much better, and midway through Clint and Barney are grievously injured and Clint is deafened, which leads to one of the most visually creative issues where the world is presented as Clint would experience it – silent – and having ASL incorporated into the story telling, as well as eventually his hearing aids. Thankfully Kate had gotten word that Clint was in trouble and rushed back to New York, and the Volume leaves off with the pair reunited.
I’m glad to have spent the time with these two Hawkeyes, the two understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses and provide a support system as they both understand better than anyone what their specific line of work requires and costs, and the importance on focusing on the everyday needs of people surrounding them.