The Marvel Rundown: KATE BISHOP: HAWKEYE #1 hits the bullseye

Comics

This week, just in time for her MCU debut on Disney+, the Marvel Universe’s best and most adorable archer returns for a new solo adventure in Kate Bishop: Hawkeye! Does the kickoff for the series hit the bullseye?

We’ve got a review of Kate Bishop: Hawkeye #1, as well as your regular Rapid Rundown of other new and noteworthy Marvel Comics titles, all ahead in this week’s installment of The Marvel Rundown!


Kate Bishop: Hawkeye #1

Writer: Marieke Nijkamp
Penciller: Enid Balám
Inker: Oren Junior
Color Artist: Brittany Peer
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Jahnoy Lindsay

Thanksgiving here in the U.S. is traditionally a time for family to come together, often whether they want to or not. It’s somewhat fitting, then, that Kate Bishop: Hawkeye #1, originally slated for release earlier this month, should arrive instead on the Wednesday before Turkey Day, as historically Kate’s adventures have tended to be family affairs. Kate’s newest solo story looks to follow suit, albeit with a refreshing twist.

Kate Bishop: Hawkeye is just young adult author Marieke Nijkamp’s second comics project after last year’s The Oracle Code graphic novel for DC Comics, but this first issue displays how adeptly they’ve adapted their writing for the format. Many prose authors stumble with balancing their use of text, whether it’s dialogue or captions or what-have-you, with what’s shown in the artwork on the page, but Nijkamp has no such issues here. They capture Kate’s personality well, and convey the conflict she feels as she closes the chapter on her west coast adventures while also putting off her return to New York City. The place Kate finds herself in is instantly relatable as something every young person goes through at some point in their lives, though perhaps with fewer archery-based fight sequences.

It’s during those sequences that artists Enid Balám, Oren Junior, and Brittany Peer get to shine. Balám and Junior’s linework strikes a nice balance between cartoony and realistic, with a visual style reminiscent of Humberto Ramos while still distinctly their own. The issue is essentially split in two, between a large opening action sequence and a place-setting sequence that sets things up for the remainder of the series, and the art team nails both with equal skill. Their action is energetic and easy to follow, the visual storytelling is superb, and the dialogue-heavy scenes are still visually interesting, with characters equally expressive both on and off the battlefield. The entire creative team comes together beautifully during the latter half of the issue, as panels cut back and forth between present day and flashbacks with little indication beyond character clothing and color palette changes from Peer and letterer Joe Caramagna. It’s fantastically executed, and an exciting indicator of what’s to come from the rest of this series.

As for that family connection, the return of Kate’s rarely-mentioned, even-more-rarely-seen sister was a welcome surprise that adds an entertaining dynamic to Kate’s new case. After the previous solo Kate Bishop series used both of her parents as antagonists in one form or another, it’ll be interesting to see another side of Kate’s family life. The aforementioned flashbacks go a long way towards showing readers what Kate and Susan’s relationship has been like in the past, and given the characters’ divergent paths in life and the circumstances of their reunion, the rest of the series seems likely to offer some entertaining interactions between the sisters.

Kate Bishop: Hawkeye #1 is a strong start to the best Hawkeye’s newest series. Nijkamp, Balán, and co. deliver a well-crafted, character-driven opener that holds a lot of promise for the rest of the series. New readers picking up the series after seeing Kate’s first appearance on the Hawkeye TV series are in for an accessible and entertaining treat.

Final Verdict: Buy.


Rapid Rundown!

  • Black Panther #1
    • I’ve been eagerly anticipating this issue, but I’m afraid I was a little disappointed in the execution of this issue. In terms of the artwork, Juann Cabal is a major talent at Marvel but this seems like a step down from his work on Guardians of the Galaxy with Al Ewing. His work here is a little more straightforward, and certainly not as exciting as his usual output. I blame the lacklustre script by John Ridley, who I must say has not brought his Oscar-winning talent over to comics. This is a pretty by-the-numbers Black Panther story with characters whose voice Ridley simply does not capture… including the titular Black Panther. He frankly sounds more like an American; I’m sure it’s been done in the past before at some point but does T’Challa calling Captain America “Cap” make any sense to you? This attempts to delve into the espionage side of Wakanda which I’m excited to see more of, but at this point it’s the only thing keeping me on the hook me for the rest of the arc. —HW
  • The Death of Doctor Strange #3
    • This issue had me at “Doctor Strange performs his own autopsy.” Building on the foundation of the interesting ideas introduced in the first two issues, this story sees the “timeline excerpt” Strange making some significant progress on his own murder mystery… with the aforementioned autopsy yielding some pretty significant developments. While I was unsure about this story after the second issue of this crossover, this third entry pulls together the threads raised in the Strange Academy and Avengers tie-ins and weaves them into the narrative in some interesting ways. It remains to be seen whether or not this event will stick the landing, but as an initial skeptic for a story where yet another Marvel superhero meets their maker (metaphorically speaking – this isn’t Howard the Duck), consider me won over on The Death of Doctor Strange. —AJK
  • Star Wars: Life Day #1
    • This anthology stars Han Solo and Chewbacca, trying to celebrate the Wookie tradition of Life Day, being the trouble magnets that they are, things don’t go as expected. Set during the period between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, the main story by Cavan Scott and Ivan Fiorelli finds Han and Chewie down on their luck, as usual, minus the Millenium Falcon. As they move through the city we get flashbacks to other events that happened on Life Day. A solid attempt at legitimizing one of the top blunders in the Star Wars mythology, the special that shall not be named. If you’re a casual fan or reader this issue has some of the newer High Republic characters and plot points that might be a bit confusing, but if you’re a diehard fan who lives for those universe-building vignettes and neat easter eggs this book is a decent read. GC3

Next week: Devil’s Reign!

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