Basically, I want to be Kate Bishop’s best friend. Let me just start off by saying that, in case you were wondering how positive this review was going to be.
But I suppose I can elaborate. This release collects the first twelve issues of Hawkeye from Kelly Thompson, Leonardo Romero, Michael Walsh, Jordie Bellaire, and Julian Totino Tedesco, which covers Kate Bishop’s move to L.A. and the start of her very own detective agency (license pending).
This book was an absolute blast, primarily because of how strong the lead character is. Kate has had a bit of an issue stepping out of Clint Barton’s shadow (especially since the dude came back to life and stopped dressing like a ninja), but this series tackles that notion head-on. By sending the character out on her own, there’s much less of a feeling that she has to make nice with the other heroes if she doesn’t want to.
The thing about Kate Bishop is that she’s not interested in the big space battles or the evil dragons of the world (though she’ll still throw down with a dragon or two if given the chance). Her concern is for the little guy. And besides that, her concerns include paying her rent on time, finding time to pay attention to her new friends, and remembering to pick up more frozen peas to put on a particularly nasty battle bruise.
In other words, Kate is us. Sure, we may not all have supervillain dads (and if you do, please alert your local sassy superhero), but the point still stands. At the end of the day, Kate is just trying to get by and be happy. It’s not always easy to do for those of us who don’t have to deal with superpowered enemies, but we manage and so does Kate. With a little help from our friends.
She fights for truth and justice, but also validation and respect. She’s not just the lady version of Hawkeye, she’s friggin’ Hawkeye. And she’s allowed to prove that time and time again here, taking on cases for scared college students and still finding time to team up with Jessica Jones and wreck some monsters.
Speaking of Jessica Jones, the team up between these two forms the basis for one of the more fun arcs of the book, as Kate follows along and takes notes from the Marvel Universe’s best superhero-turned-P.I. These notes include such gems as “Stakeouts are actually boring” and “Suits are dumb.” It’s a really fun time, is what I’m saying.
It also gives us a window into why Kate is such a great character. At one point, Jessica asks, ‘You like to make your own fun, don’t you?” Kate replies that she does, which is almost the perfect way to describe Kate Bishop. Even after all the terrible things she’s seen, she doesn’t see the point in putting more negativity in the world, preferring to work it out through quips and perseverance.
The action scenes are beautifully illustrated, with several scenes depicting the lightning quick way that Kate makes her way through a space, hopping on baddies and planning her next move before she’s finished pummeling on her last henchman. And of course, there are Kate’s facial expressions, which are always somewhere comfortably between plucky and badass.
The flashbacks that pop up frequently in the last third of the book are also well done, trading the normal sepia of such sequences for a Hawkeye-appropriate purple and white color scheme. It’s a clever choice that smoothly transitions the reader into a flashback without the need for a caption or title card.
This is a wonderfully quick read, with each issue giving us so many clues to each case that it rewards repeat reads. You don’t have to know everything about Kate’s backstory to dive in and enjoy it. The wonderful thing about detective stories is that exposition is so ingrained in the dialogue and the very nature of these tales that it never feels clunky when Kate fills us in on a piece of her history.
My only knock on this collection is that there isn’t enough of it! The series ran for four more issues after this, so the Kate fan and completionist in me really wish they were collected here. Still, this is a highly recommended collection for fans who loved this series and for new readers who need a primer on Kate before she joins the MCU.