Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing All-New Hawkeye 5, originally released March 23rd, 2015.
Taylor: Growing up, we have total faith in our parents. Not only do they know everything, but most of the time they are viewed as paragons of virtue, morality, and justice. Basically, to the small child, parents are knowable because they represent the perfect person. As we get older, however, we learn that our parents aren’t always these things. This leads us to wonder what else we don’t know about mothers and fathers and ultimately, one day, we have the realization we don’t know exactly who they are because we no longer hold them in such high esteem. It’s a tough lesson to learn, made all the more so when you learn your parent might be a criminal. All-New Hawkeye 5 explores the issue of figuring out who parents are and in doing so also makes a statement finding your own identity.
Kate Bishop’s flashbacks take center stage in this issue. In these, we see Kate realize that her dad isn’t all that she expected him to be. After finding him roughing up a henchman the night before, she has a lot of questions about exactly who her dad is. He waves these questions off and instead chooses to address the issue of his and Kate mom’s divorce — a clear ploy to divert Kate from questioning him directly about what she saw last night.
These opening scenes in Kate’s flashback focus on her inability to truly know who her father is. While Kate wants to believe her dad has good reasons for doing what he did, she has a feeling that something isn’t quite right. This inability to identify who her dad truly is is represented wonderfully by Ramon Perez’s artwork in this issue. As she sits at the table and wonders at the identify of her dad, we see her self image compared that of her father’s.
Drawn here, Kate is clearly defined, so much so that you can see her individual hairs. Her dad, on the other hand, is blurry almost to the point that you would be hard pressed to identify him in any distinguishing way. This representation shows me that Kate is fully aware of who she is. She is well defined both in her mind’s eye and correspondingly by Perez’s pencil. However, since this is Kate’s memory, her definition of who her dad is isn’t so sharp. His violence the previous night makes him hard to pin down. The loose, sketchy style of this character’s design shows me that Kate, even in her adult years, has little clue about who her dad really is. While these watercolor images are nothing new to Hawkeye, I appreciate how they are contrasted here with ink drawing to reinforce this idea of identity, or lack thereof.
The idea that Kate is a well-defined person, even at this young age, is reinforced by her actions in the the issue. When her dad fails to give her any answers about his life, she takes matters into her own hands, stowing away in his car to ease drop on one of his “meetings.”
This action is incredibly similar to the type of thing Kate would do as an adult. She’s the definition of a go-getter and she’s always willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. That we see her taking this action so early in life doesn’t necessarily come as a surprise. Of the two Hawkeyes, she’s always been the better one at getting shit done and staying focused on the task at hand. I like that this is just part of who Kate is down to the core. This spying on her father tells me a lot about how Kate self-identifies. Focused, goal-oriented, and brave. Even though the world around her may be blurred and undefined, at least she knows this about herself and can always trust it. This issue does such a good job of showing me who Kate is by showing me how she views herself in comparisons to the rest of the world.
The other Hawkeye, Clint, also solidifies his self-identity some in this issue. After he helps rescue the Communion Kids, we see that they are finally beginning to warm-up to him.
True, it’s not a resounding endorsement, but it will do. In the panels that follow this I get the sense that Clint really enjoys being someone who people can count on. His help in freeing the Communion Kids, and their ensuing thanks for this, seems to fulfill something in Clint that maybe he didn’t know was empty. In this, I see Clint becoming the hero he’s always been afraid to be. Previously, he’s shirked responsibility because he’s been afraid to let people down. Now, however, he’s seeing that he’s beginning to build an identity for himself as something other than a screw-up.
Spencer, I’ve been kind of lukewarm on this series for awhile, but I really enjoyed this issue! What about you? Do you think this is the last we’ll see of the Communion Kids? Do you think this represents a new direction for Clint? And what about Kate’s dad? Total jerk, right?
Spencer: Oh, he’s the worst. We’ve known that for a little while, but I’m a bit surprised at how this flashback is letting Kate onto this particular tidbit at such a young age. It’s something our regular commenter Matt mentioned when we discussed last issue (but something I picked up on as well these past two months) — Kate learning about her father as a child doesn’t really jive with her history in Young Avengers or even in the previous volume of Hawkeye, which portrayed this particular revelation as a surprise to everyone involved.
Is that a problem? I suppose it depends on how you feel about retcons — I don’t hate the idea, but it was a bit of a distraction to me throughout the story. I am curious to see how both this thread and the Communion Kids story ends (we’ll at least see them again next month, but I’ve got no clue what Kate and Clint are gonna do with them — it was at this point that their original plan for the Communion Kids fell apart as well), but to be honest, what I’ve always enjoyed about All-New Hawkeye hasn’t necessarily been the story at hand, but the way in which its stories are told.
Which is to say: Perez and colorist Ian Herring are rock stars. The unique visual language they’ve put together for this title is on full display this month (the loss of color when Clint can’t hear, the gorgeous watercolor of the flashbacks [and Kate’s ability to transcend that]), but my favorite moment might actually be this simple explosion:
I’ve seen a lot of criticism about using explosions as splash pages or spreads before, and a lot of that is justified — they’re often lazy, a way to pad issues, and drum up exactly zero drama, as we know our heroes never die in these kind of explosions — but I’m fond of this one. First off, Herring and Perez bathe this page in just the right shades of red, yellow, and orange to really bring out the heat and intensity of the explosion. Second, those shocked faces — expertly highlighted by the shadow — are, again, extremely effective at conveying the horror of the moment. Most important, though, is the face of the Communion Kids in that sound effect. This explosion isn’t important because it’s a big, loud, flashy explosion, but because it apparently kills off these kids who have been so important to Clint and Kate since All-New Hawkeye‘s genesis, and here the creative team realizes that that’s what they need to be highlighting in this particular scene.
Perez also sneaks the detail of the Hydra agent (either Kate or Barney) into the panel to clue readers who haven’t figured it out yet into Clint’s scheme, and I appreciate those little details Perez sneaks in as well. My favorite? Kate’s backpack:
Look at those little “H’s” on her straps! Even long before she actually becomes Hawkeye, we’ve got little clues hinting us in to her eventual fate.
For all my praise of the art, though, there’s also quite a few effective story beats in this issue as well. The first one I love is that, even when angry at him and spying on her father, Kate doesn’t suspect him of being a “bad guy” — she think he’s being blackmailed, or is in danger. For all her beyond-her-years confidence and competence, Kate is still a little kid who can’t help but think better of her dad even when he clearly doesn’t deserve it.
I also love that moment between Clint and Maria Hill after the Communion Kids “die.” I don’t agree with Clint that Maria’s a “good guy” — S.H.I.E.L.D.’s been involved in too much dark stuff for her to ever fully earn that title — but I appreciate that she’s still capable of understanding that everyone is better off if Clint takes care of these kids and they can finally put this perpetual, infernal war over them to rest. That’s a Maria Hill who is intelligent, reasonable, and pragmatic — qualities Hill is supposed to be, but which often get lost in attempts to frame her as an antagonist.
(It’s also nice to see Clint’s relationship with Hill progress to this level, even if he simultaneously blew their trust entirely over in this week’s New Avengers. Oh well — that’s a shared universe, for you).
So yeah, All-New Hawkeye 5 worked particularly well for me — it’s yet another gorgeous, smartly illustrated installment from Perez and Herring, backed by a strong story from Lemire. Here’s hoping they can keep this level of quality up for the conclusion.
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?