Ultimate Hawkeye #1 cover

Last Week’s Comics 9/7/2011

Hawkeye #1

(Marvel – writer: Jonathan Hickman; art: Rafa Sandoval)

Surprisingly, the title character of this issue is the least interesting thing about it. Ultimate Hawkeye #1 and The Ultimates #1 share common themes and ideas (which makes sense, considering that Hickman is the author of both). But where Nick Fury is the centerpiece of The Ultimates, Clint Barton – presented as a pretty one-dimensional character – has to try and share this issue with a group of Thai scientists who have created possibly the most unremarkable – yet most devastating – virus humans will ever encounter. Spoilers ahead!

Hickman’s writing has the grand, worldly feel of Bond films like On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Thunderball and – though a God-awful movie – The World Is Not Enough. All of these movies involve complex international plots where someone in the end will hold the world ransom.

Hawkeye is written in that same vein. Two Thai scientists develop a virus that will eradicate the X-Gene in human beings, making it impossible for anyone to become a mutant. Additionally, they create their own mutant strain that would allow them to have an army of mutants to give them an edge in the world. It’s a complex idea, but one that is executed well by Hickman. Sadly, the mutants aren’t that interesting; they exhibit the usual mutant powers, so there’s nothing new to be seen. But the story will at least give readers a better understanding of Ultimates #1, a book that – while a great read – was frustratingly cryptic in its presentation.

Clint Barton is the hero you’d expect him to be. He’s what Oliver Queen could be if he learned how to kill – but Green Arrow is nowhere near as badass as Hawkeye. While I liked his mutant killing spree at the end of the book, it reads a little too conveniently and the dialogue is eye-rolling at times. At one point, one of the mutants has a hostage. Clint calmly walks over, picks up his bow and arrow and says the following:

Clint: I want you to relax. Everything is going to be fine. Do you know why?

Hostage: Why?

Clint shoots an arrow through the captor’s head.

Clint: I don’t miss.

See? It’s cool, but in a hero’s-last-line-in-the-action-movie way. Hickman’s better than that, so I was a bit disappointed to see him write this way. This isn’t enough to make the issue a bad read, but it’s something to notice.

These are nitpicky points because the majority of the issue is good and interlocks nicely with Ultimates. If the Ultimate Universe is going for consistency, they’ve done a good job of setting the rules.

Clint Barton is the hero you’d expect him to be. He’s what Oliver Queen could be if he learned how to kill

One other thing to note, though, is that Hawkeye went crazy in Ultimates 2 when Black Widow killed his girlfriend and his children. This was carried over into Jeph Loeb’s abysmal Ultimates 3, but that part of Clint seems to have disappeared. It seems odd considering that Hickman would probably do a great job (and really enjoy) writing a crazy Clint Barton. I wonder why Marvel decided to do away with this very important part of Hawkeye’s backstory.

Alas, maybe we’ll get these answers as the issues progress. Hawkeye #1, even with its (minor) flaws, is still worth the read and a great introductory issue.

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