Sunday, October 26, 2003

Hawkeye #1 - A Review

Written by: Fabian Nicieza
Penciled by: Stefano Raffaele
Inked by: Stefano Raffaele
Colored by: Ben Dimagmaliw
Lettered by: Dave Sharpe
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics

I have a confession to make here. I’ve never read that many Hawkeye stories, thinking him the poor man’s Green Arrow. I must admit though, this is hardly a fair comparison as the characters do have some major differences. Sure, both of them have a bad boy image and openly questioned the leaders of their respective teams… but Hawkeye had once operated as a criminal whereas Oliver Queen had always been an abider of the law, if not particularly ethical in regards to his love affairs. Oliver Queen made-do without trick arrows for a number of years whereas Clint Barton always seemed dependent on them to remain on an even keel with the heroes around him Hawkeye lead his own team whereas Green Arrow has shown little interest in leading anyone and indeed had to be wrestled into team-ups and crossovers through most of his career.

And I’m sure I’m not the only fan disappointed to see that the latest Avengers/JLA issue really didn’t settle the issue of who the better archer is- indeed, they seemed to rub our nose in the fact that it WOULDN’T be shown, even as we get to watch Wonder Woman wrestle Hercules and Superman battle Thor. But I digress… I mention Green Arrow, not just for the basis of comparison, but because in an odd way Hawkeye #1 reminds me of the kind of stories Mike Grell used to tell back in his legendary eight-year run on the character.

This is a good simple story about a guy with a talent, trying to help people out simply because it is the right decent thing to do; the kind of man who will step in and deal with an abusive boyfriend even as he is waiting for his hotter-than-hell Chili to be delivered. (Hmm… I wonder what that reminds me of ol’ Ollie) The plot unfolds more or less from the above scene; Clint drives across the country to try the chili at a dive and gets involved after seeing a woman being harassed by a larger man. After tracking the woman down and proving himself no mean detective (and spouting one of the funniest lines I’ve read recently), Clint sets about trying to figure out who is responsible for the woman’s problems.

I haven’t seen any work by Stefano Raffael before, but I like most of what I see here. He draws good characters in close-up, those his pencils do get a bit sloppy and indistinct in far shots. He also has a heavy-shadow inking style that looks wonderful in the early scenes taking place at night but is sorely out of place in the later scenes taking place in broad daylight. Still, most of the art looks good and I love the coloring on the night scenes where everything is blue tinted yet oddly lifelike. Some panels, in fact, look like Tony Harris’ work on Starman.

Overall, this book has me hooked. I’m not crazy about the art in some places, but Nicieza’s writing more than makes up for it, giving Clint a dry humor and likeable presence. I may even give the new Thunderbolts book a look-see, though I stopped reading the original long before Hawkeye ever became the team leader. Maybe that just goes to show that, like Hawkeye and Green Arrow, I can occasionally miss the mark.

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