Reviews: California Kate – Hawkeye #1

Published On December 15, 2016 | By Joe Gordon | Comics, Reviews

Hawkeye #1,

Kelly Thompson, Leonardo Romero, Jordie Bellaire,

Marvel

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(cover artwork by Julian Totino Tedesco)

Hawkeye is one of those Marvel characters I rarely bothered with – to be honest that older costume just seemed ludicrous to me even as a kid. So when Matt Fraction, David Aja et al started their new take on Hawkeye (when he wasn’t being an Avenger) I didn’t pay much attention, until our own Nicola started writing rave reviews about the new issues back in 2012, 2013. And on her say-so I picked it up and absolutely loved it, and thoroughly enjoyed Jeff Lemire and Ramon Perez’s more recent All-New Hawkeye run as well (first volume of the Fraction-Aja Hawkeye is reviewed here). And as a bonus those stories reacquainted me with Kate Bishop – the “other” Hawkeye. And here in Thompson and Romero’s new series it’s the Kate Hawkeye we’re following, and Clint is now the “other” Hawkeye. And nowhere in sight but his presence is felt throughout (not always a good thing for Kate!).

We open on Venice Beach, with Kate in civilian attire scoping out some surfers riding their favourite breaks at an ungodly early hour of the morning – they all have their favourite breaks and she knows this is how to track down her surfer suspect… Except, of course, y’know, there’s superhero stuff getting in the way of being a (sort of) private investigator (unlicensed, ahem). And as she watches her suspect from the pier she clocks a group of men all in suits. Which stands out a mile on the promenade at Venice Beach. And sure enough, those men are about to pull on masks and go into the nearby bank. Masks of former presidents. Yes, it’s a Point Break homaging robbery, and you have to love that! And naturally Kate switches from PI to Superhero mode to barge in and sort out the bad guys.

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It’s a nice introduction for new readers, and for those who followed the more recent Hawkeye comics (featuring both Kate and Clint), this leads nicely off from where they left Kate. Within the first few pages we’ve got her new locale on the West Coast, her new job (sort of PI) and some superhero action thrown in for good measure, before we actually get to see Kate in her new, somewhat dilapidated office/apartment (making Alias’ Jessica Jones look almost like the Pinkertons). Complete with (badly) hand-drawn sign (with a large eye). Miraculously she does get walk-in customers though. Well, sort of. Most wanted the “other” Hawkeye (several purely so they could punch him in the face, something Kate can empathise with, no doubt). And a couple who assumed her sign means she was an optician… Fortunately an actual case comes in, one which may require a mix of PI work and superhero abilities, just what she needs. And I won’t spoil it for readers ┬áby going into any detail on how that goes.

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This was just a pure pleasure to read, right from the start – even the credits page, like the Fraction and Aja Hawkeye run, gives you some set-up info and also a few giggles. And there are more giggles to be had in the rest of this issue, not so much broad comedy, just the natural funniness that sometimes comes out of situations, allied with Kate’s own sardonic (and as she would admit herself, sassy) sense of humour, which combines perfectly with the action scenes to give the reader a terrific ride. There are obvious nods to that other super-powered PI of the Marvel Universe, Jessica Jones (recently returned to comics herself – first issue reviewed here), and to the Fraction-Aja recent Hawkeye past, but you could also dive straight in here even if you didn’t read those (although if you love this, trust me, you would love those volumes too).

Romero’s art matches Thompson’s script nicely, there’s both action and introspection here, but without taking itself too seriously (comics that are fun again, that’s refreshing), and nice touches like the way her marskwoman’s eye flags up everything in her field of vision, “suspect”, “bystander”, “delicious sandwich”. Or the way the larger panels on the external scene switch to much smaller, more rapid, kinetic ones for the fight against the Presidential robbers inside the bank, contrasted by similar use of many smaller panels later on, but this time to denote tedium in her “day job” life, which makes an amusing contrast to the superheroing sequence, or even tiny character moments, like the way Romero depicts the satisfied look on Kate’s face post-bank job foiling, emitting a happy “I did good superheroing” vibe.

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Excuse me, I’m here to make a deposit. Do you accept… SASS?!

It may also just be me, but Kate’s purple Hawkeye jumpsuit (and natty colour-matching shades, this lady can accessorise!), with the side panels and the belt really put me in mind of another Avenger – the UK variety, this time, the remarkable Mrs Peel, played by the fabulous Diana Rigg, one of the all-time great action-heroines (and smarter than her partner John Steed too, she was the scientific brains in the Avengers as well as a physically dangerous agent). Come to think of it, that Mrs Peel and Steed era Avengers humour with action is fairly close to the feel of this Hawkeye in both script as well as art touches like Kate’s costume, and I wonder if that was indeed an influence on both Thompson and Romero – it certainly would be a good one to channel! This is an absolute delight, and I can’t wait for more.

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About The Author

Joe Gordon

Joe Gordon is ForbiddenPlanet.co.uk’s chief blogger, which he set up in 2005. Previously, he was professional bookseller for over 12 years as well as a lifelong reader and reviewer, especially of comics and science fiction works.

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