Kate Bishop receives a visit from the first guest star and first guest artist of her solo series just in time for the start of a new investigation.
Hawkeye #5 (Marvel Comics)
In the first few issues of this series, writer Kelly Thompson and artist Leonardo Romero have established Kate’s fast-paced, heightened LA setting and a Scooby Gang of a supporting cast. With Romero taking a break, Secret Avengers penciler Michael Walsh steps in. It’s not a huge departure as the two artists share a skills at presenting both detailed backgrounds and fluid action. Still, Walsh’s somewhat grittier style serves well with the noir-inspired Jessica Jones in town. Jordie Bellaire is still in place on colors, providing welcome visual continuity especially in the exterior scenes. Two more of the “archer’s-eye” view panels that appeared throughout the inaugural story ensure that this still feels very much like the same series.
The issue kicks off with the art team trying their hands at a Sunset Boulevard homage that’s certainly appropriate for the LA setting. However, the impact is somewhat dulled for two reasons. One, no one expects a recently minted Netflix star to die in her guest spot. Two, this image has just appeared in so many forms over the years – the frame for the seventh season of Archer comes to mind – that its iconic weight is somewhat diminished.
After the opening, we dive into an interrogation scene in Kate’s office that takes its own visual cues from some of those great Michael Gaydos pages in Alias. The dynamics that will drive the rest of the issue quickly emerge as Thompson establishes the relationship between our star and her visitor. It’s mentorship that traces its roots back to Kate’s earliest appearances in Young Avengers, in which Jessica was the one who turned over the original Hawkeye’s bow and arrow to his young namesake.
Unlike Kate’s sassy, sibling-style connection with Clint Barton, she readily defers to Jessica. It makes sense that there is a certain hero worship at work here as the fledgling superheroine/detective gets to work with a physically powerful and eminently capable woman who has made the precise “career transition” she is currently attempting.
With Kate’s newfound supporting cast almost entirely absent (save a brief phone call), the comic has plenty of room to focus in on what the more seasoned detective has to teach her protege. Thompson’s mastery of voice continues to be a huge asset, matching up the younger woman’s fast talking with the relatively terse dialogue from the veteran. The focus on female friendship and mutual respect means evading a lot of the familiar buddy cop cliches that often characterize this kind of a story.
In between the banter and bonding, Thompson and the art team pack in a satisfying amount of story with a few exciting moments. The increasingly complicated plot involves a missing woman, a vague connection to Kate’s estranged father, extreme plastic surgery, and magic. The series is finding its sweet spot between over-the-top superheroics and the street-level detective work. At least in the first part of this new story, the disparate elements come together smoothly, thanks to the smart characterization, entertaining dialogue, and dynamic imagery. So far, this series has me for the long haul to see what bigger twists are in store once Kate and Jessica solve their current predicament.