Thirty years from now, Clint Barton and Kate Bishop are stuck in the Mandarin’s prison. But they’re also stuck in the past.
In All-New Hawkeye #2, artist Ramón Pérez continues the really effective visual language from issue #1, using two different artistic styles to represent the present and the future. But it’s Ian Herring’s colors that really steal the show here. Hawkeye #2 is a great example of how comics coloring can tell a great story all by itself.
At first glance, Hawkeye’s two artistic styles are all about contrast. In Hawkeye’s future, fresh-looking pastels and bright fluorescent tones coexist with rough black outlines–it’s bright, a little blinding, but it’s a sketchy kind of future, like it’s still in the process of being formed. In contrast, the present is typified by duller, muted blues and purples–this style is an overt homage to the Fraction/Aja/Hollingsworth-era Hawkeye, keeping Clint visually as well as emotionally stuck in the past.
And at first glance, this story is all about the pain of that sharp contrast between past and future. Kate’s guilt and disgust over a mistake she and Clint made 30 years ago continues to tear them apart. And Clint can’t let go of the past, either. He’s stuck back in his old uniform, but it doesn’t fit right. As he and Kate try to “talk” their way out of the Mandarin’s prison, he keeps trying to explain that he knows what he’s doing, that he’s done this before, disregarding Kate’s thirty years of experience as S.H.I.E.L.D.’s premier super-agent, ignoring everything that happened since the day she walked out of that apartment.
There’s a joke to be made here about old dogs and new tricks… and this comic actually makes it. Clint Barton names his new dog after his old dog. So, it turns out that maybe this isn’t a story about the sharp, jagged separation between past and future after all. This is really a story about the awkward, messy, overlapping transition between past and future. The handoff of the “Hawkeye” name and legacy isn’t neat or dignified or even definable. Clint and Kate keep talking over each other, answering to the wrong name. In same way that there’s something pretty sad about naming your new dog after your dead dog, All-New Hawkeye is a pretty sad story about overlapping legacies and crippling nostalgia and people who just can’t let go and move on.
Back in the “present,” Pérez draws a Clint’s steady, repetitive, predictable day-to-day existence, alternating comically between the superhero battle of the week and drinking beer in his apartment and the superhero battle of the week.
It’s like he’s stuck in a time-warp, the an eternal present of a comic-book hero with half a century of mostly-consistent characterization. After a while, Clint comes to the realization that he should try to patch things up with Kate, so he spends the rest of the issue trying to call her. And she spends the rest of the issue not answering her phone. While Clint is definitely (or maybe pathologically) set in his ways, Hawkeye #2 also explores Kate Bishop’s strong connections to her past. This issue features two nice Young Avengers cameos, one in each timeline, like ghosts of superteams past coming to guide Kate through her present and future. “Old habits die hard,” Kate quips, as she summons her old boyfriend Noh-Varr to K.O. the Mandarin. Back in the present, she gets some advice from her will-they-or-won’t-they girlfriend America Chavez.
This seems like a conversation that America and Kate have had a thousand times: Hawkeye and Hawkeye, Kate and Clint, Kate and Hawkeye. They use the word “Hawkeye” several different ways, to mean several different things. It’s like its own language: Hawkeye-Hawkeye-Hawkeye instead of “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.” As America and Kate talk, the color palette darkens into deep, reddish purples and blacks–as Kate begins a new life separate from Clint’s, her world literally starts to look different from his.
Back in the future, Clint and Kate make the shocking discovery that the Mandarin has captured one of the Project Communion test subjects, and that S.H.I.E.L.D. is setting them all up. They escape from the Mandarin’s compound, rescue the hostage, and set about finishing some unfinished business with S.H.I.E.L.D.
On the final page, as Kate dances with America, her new dark purples and blacks transitions into the familiar muted lavender of Clint’s apartment, which transitions into the “futuristic” pastel palette of the Mandarin’s winter hideout. The colors clash and compliment each other and come together, and everything new is old again.
Written by Jeff Lamire
Drawn by Ramón Pérez, with colors by Ian Herring
Letters by Joe Sabino
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Mad Moll Green writes in Los Angeles and Vancouver. She loves horror movies, comic books, and ironic spandex.