I began reading the Hawkeye series when it first released, and I very much enjoyed it. But then I stopped at issue 4 for a couple reasons. One I had some temporary financial shortcomings, and two, Marvel cancelled their free digital copies in every issue thing, while at the same time DC started putting free digital copies in every $4 comic. I dropped a bunch of Marvel titles at the time, and there are several I don’t plan on catching up on. As much as I wanted to keep reading Hawkeye at the time, I dropped it and only stuck with my absolute favourite Marvel titles. Now that Marvel brought the digital program back, and that my favourite X-Men character is guest starring in today’s issue, I’ve since caught up. I’m glad that I did. Even if I didn’t though, I wouldn’t feel the least bit lost reading this issue.
Hawkeye 12, written by Kelly Thompson, does a very good job at explaining the series’ recent events for those who haven’t been reading it, while also being a fun one-off story of sorts. That’s probably the best way to go when you’re featuring a popular guest star for one issue. The story is simple – Hawkeye is chasing after someone who helped clone Kate Bishop, with Madame Masque in control of this clone’s body. It caused some strange problems for a couple issues, and Kate clearly has good reasons to be angry. When she starts tracking down the cloner, she runs into Wolverine, Gabby and Jonathan the actual wolverine in a bar fight.
This issue is just fun, with the occasional touch of drama just to balance out the tone a bit. Kate’s habit of saying too much often leads to amusing exchanges of dialogue, like unintentionally insulting the guest stars, Gabby commenting on how Kate tells too many jokes but that she likes some of them anyway, and a brief debate on whether the villain smells like cats or lies. Kate agrees that the cat smell makes him untrustworthy, but … you know. The moment where Laura tells Kate what Gabby means to her is a particularly nice touch. There’s one moment where Laura comes up with a weird shipping name for Rogue and Deadpool that feels a bit off, but otherwise her characterization is very good here.
There are also clever descriptions put into Kate’s visual scans of the surroundings as well, especially the panel where she’s studying the bar fight. “Regular-sized Wolverine”, “Tiny Wolverine?”, “Literal Wolverine?”, “Delicious Nachos” and some more amusing ones, please don’t stop with these descriptions. Beyond the frequently amusing dialogue and the touch of drama to balance it out, this one-off story is satisfying. It ties into Kate’s bigger story and hints at her search for her mother, but in a way that invites new readers in rather than confuses them.
The art by Michael Walsh is good. It’s a simple look that matches the series tone, with the right level of environmental Easter Eggs and visual storytelling to make it work. On the opening page, there’s a bike sign on a pole by the road, the bar advertising hot dog nights and 2 for 1 wings on certain days of the week, and various papers attached to the windows and doors. When Laura is thrown through a window in the next panel, there are plenty of glass shards flying around. Kate instinctively raises her arms in a defensive form, which is a nice addition for someone well trained in combat. Facial expressions do a good job at conveying emotions and personality throughout the comic, like Laura’s more reserved poses, Gabby’s animated and excitable nature showing through, and Kate’s mix of confusion, determination and smiles when the situation is dealt with and the trio are just enjoying each other’s company. Also, watch out for the duct tape bow on top of one of the thugs’ heads after the trio beat up and wrapped up the cloner’s small army. The colouring by Jordie Bellaire matches the art style perfectly, with simpler colours to keep the art’s generally flat look, but with good use of shadows and scrapes on Kate’s skin after the opening fight.
This is a really fun comic that would work fairly well as either a Hawkeye entry or a one-off All-New Wolverine issue. Despite the huge difference between Kate and Laura’s personalities, they convincingly work well as a team. That makes this an easy recommendation for fans of either character. It also makes me glad that I’ve caught up with the Hawkeye series.