All-New Hawkeye #1 follows up Marvel’s award-winning and best-selling Hawkeye series written by Matt Fraction and drawn by David Aja, mostly. The creative team is the all Canadian duo of Jeff Lemire, writer making his Marvel debut, and Ramon Perez, artist. Jeff Lemire jokes that when Marvel originally pitched him Hawkeye he couldn’t understand their american accents and signed up thinking he was writing a book about hockey. This is a lighter side of Lemire we don’t usually see but when you’re taking the Hawkeye reins from Fraction you have to show that you have the heart and humour to properly tell the adventures of Clint and Kate.
Issue #1 jumps back and forth in 2 distinctive timelines, the first shows Clint and big brother Barney years ago as children at a foster home, and not their first either. The second is current time where Clint and Kate, the two Hawkeyes, fighting a bunch of Hydra goons on a mission from Maria Hill to look into a top-secret weapons cache in the Antarctic that Hydra is hiding.
In the past timeline we learn that Barney was so much more than a big brother to Clint but was also his protector as the boys suffered abuse at the hands of at least one of their foster parents that we know of. It gives Clint a certain air of helplessness that we don’t often get to see from the wise cracking Hawkeye of current Marvel lore. The present timeline as a counter balance focuses on Kate and Clint’s relationship. Clint feels he still needs to protect Kate who he still views as his protegé, but Kate on the other hand wants to stop being babied by Clint. This much is evident when the two Hawkeyes get separated and Clint is on a mad dash to meet up with Kate, we as readers feel the anxiety Clint feels as he rushes to Kate’s aid and is worried about her safety. Kate meanwhile is on the cusp of completing the mission and doesn’t want to turn heel and run or wait for him to arrive in order to complete the mission as she feels she can handle herself just fine, which she’s proved time and time again.
After reading Howard The Duck #1 I figured All-New Hawkeye would pale in comparison but I now realize I was wrong, not only does Lemire handle himself extraordinarily well, he tells a story that ticks off all the essential things we want in a Hawkeye story, lots of humour, lots of action and layers of emotional depth underneath that quick wit and ‘splodie arrows. Even more impressive than Lemire’s writing is Perez’s artwork, the two timelines have a distinctive art style each, the past timeline is a dearth water coloured look and the present is colourful and sharp with exceptional use of foreground and background colouring to contrast the two. It felt like two completely different artists worked on each timeline but that’s not the case as Perez has easily become a must-watch artist on the strength of this book alone, his Eisner nomination doesn’t hurt either.
This is a great jumping on point for any readers that may have been on the outside looking in on Fraction’s run but always wanted to immerse themselves in the world of Hawkeye. The storytellers are telling their own Hawkeye adventure with no previous reading required, and at a cover price of $3.99 you can not go wrong. This is a perfect book and a perfect read, do yourselves a favour and get down to Big B Comics and grab one.