Writer: Jeff Lemire
Art: Ramón Pérez & Ian Herring
Kenny J: With each new iteration, version or volume of a title and its cast, it is often hard not to make direct comparisons to what has come before. Was what followed Remender’s Uncanny X-force run as good or will what inevitably replaces Hickman's Avengers stand up to scrutiny? Whoever picked up the reins from Matt Fraction and David Aja after the critically acclaimed Hawkeye was always going to have their work cut out for them. That said, every new writer brings their own agenda and recurring themes they like to play with and Jeff Lemire set out his early in his career. From the wheat fields of Essex County to the star-filled Descender (also released this week) Lemire has a definite propensity for exploring the trials and tribulations of youth. And this is where we pick up with a young Clint and his older brother, Barney, as they seek to escape their abusive foster father.
I have to admit the initial cursory flick through the page of All-New Hawkeye I had mixed feelings regarding Ramon Perez’s use of watercolour to juxtapose these early years and the action of Clint and his protege, Kate Bishop, facing off against an army of Hydra agents. Without borders it was at times murky and hard to differentiate between panels. If this was an artistic choice to invoke the feeling of childhood memories then it worked but as a way to pick out time periods then a use of Ian Herring's simple but effective colours would have sufficed. These pages are not without merit. A double-page splash of the two siblings fishing is particularly beautiful and the inventive, surprise addition of red is another highlight. In comparison, the aforementioned present day scenes are bold and probably just more to my taste, utilising heavy inks and a simple palette of reds, greens and of course purple to great effect.
Lemire's writing, albeit light on actual solid story, definitely sets the tone for what is to come. His handling of the Hawkeyes’ bickering is perfect, getting the to-and-fro that had Kate winning Paradoscar for Best Supporting Character two years in a row down pat. However, it is the two brothers’ relationship that is really cemented here and in very few pages, which Marvel aficionados will tell you is made only the more tragic by what comes later (or earlier depending on how you look at it). The story zipped along at quite a pace so I was surprised when I reached the final page, one that may seem very familiar to those who have read Lemire's previous work, though with a little added Katsuhiro Otomo.
Issue#1 of All-New Hawkeye is a fast and fun read that is sufficiently entertaining to warrant a second viewing. This is mostly due to my fondness for these characters and intrigue at this first arc's title. Not all opening issues have to dazzle but in this crowded hobby with multiple other books vying for ones attention it doesn't hurt. As mentioned before, Lemire has a good handle on all these characters and for now their personalities are enough to keep me reading until the story hopefully unfolds. 7/10