At some point, I'll need to write a requiem for "Hawkeye." Of course, it hasn't ended yet, so it makes it hard to write a requiem for it. But, a requiem for it will come one day. But, we're not talking about "Hawkeye" anymore. We're talking about "All-New Hawkeye." I'm glad to say that Lemire shows right off the bat that he understands Hawkeye ("all-new" or otherwise) by telling not one, but two quintessential Hawkeye stories in the same issue.
The issue begins at the core of the Hawkeye mythos, taking us through a moment in Barney and Clint's tortured childhood. Various authors over the years have treated Barney and Clint's childhood in different ways. Some show Barney as Clint's guardian from abuse, others show him as Clint's guide into manhood, others show him as playing both roles. Most recently, Fraction focused on the way that their childhood made both boys harder than boys of their age should have to be, with Barney playing both the guardian and guide roles. Lemire adds his own take on their relationship by reminding us that the important part is that they really were just kids.
Lemire makes it clear that he doesn't see even a regular childhood through rose-colored glasses. Barney and Clint have the tension that all siblings have here, with Clint eager to impress Barney and Barney reluctant to let him. Pretty much everyone reading this issue will remember childhood as it actually was, filled with fun moments of looking for frogs while at the same time navigating emotions that you're too young to control. But, Lemire reminds us that Barney and Clint had a special kind of childhood, and they return to their foster home only to be forced to leave it as their foster father flies into a rage over an unmowed lawn. Perhaps the saddest moment is when Pérez makes sure that we see the abandoned tub where Clint had just put the frog that he had so proudly caught, a reminder that sentimentality had no room in Clint's childhood. In the end, they find themselves at the carnival that would change their lives.
If Clint's childhood is the sun of Hawkeye's solar system, then ol' fashioned adventure stories are the inhabited planet that revolves around it. Here, Clint and Kate, the tension between them apparently forgotten, have agreed to take out a HYDRA weapons cache for Maria Hill. Pérez pays homage to Aja here, but it's still all him. (In fact, it's amazing to watch him go from the wispy water colors that he used for the childhood scenes to the more cartoonish HYDRA scenes.) Clint and Kate's battle through a never-ending series of HYDRA henchmen is beautifully drawn, full of great angles and fluid energy. (I'd be remiss not to mention Herring's vivid colors here.) Moreover, Lemire shows that he knows how to script a hilarious sequence, as Clint and Kate argue and tease each other in the face of danger. It's unclear what Kate finds at the end here, but I'm excited to read next issue to get the answer, the first time that I've been able to say that about a Hawkeye comic in a long time.
In other words, this issue isn't as mind blowingly awesome as "Hawkeye" #1. But, given how disappointing that series was, partially as a result of the weight of the expectations that came with launching with that sort of issue, I'm happy that it isn't. Lemire tells the perfect Hawkeye story, evoking all the feels and smiles that come with such a story. After where we've been, I'm thrilled to be in stable hands for where we're going.
**** (four of five stars)