Kate Bishop is my favorite character at Marvel. I love the Hawkeye mantle, I love sassy female leads, and I love legacy characters so Kate hits all my sweet spots. Although she basically had a solo series in the “LA Woman” arc of Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye, it is about damn time she gets her own book. So let’s talk about it.
HAWKEYE: ANCHOR POINTS (1-4)
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Leonardo Romero
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Joe Sabino
Cover Artist: Julian Tedeso
Editors: Sana Amanat & Charles Beacham
Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso
As If Sass Needs A Point: Kate Bishop emerged on the scene in April of 2005 as part of the Young Avengers. She was a cross of Hawkeye and Tony Stark (the financial support of her team) but a lot has changed since then. She’s been part of two separate iterations of the Young Avengers; worked alongside Clint Barton, the original Hawkeye; and lost the financial support of her criminal father.
Kelly Thompson, Leonardo Romero, Jordie Bellaire, and Joe Sabino do an excellent job with Kate. Thompson’s Kate Bishop is quick to overreactions and full of great quips and Sabino does a really good job of making her caption boxes project her sass. Thompson also makes Kate super observant, which is beautifully realized by Romero and Bellaire’s Hawk-Vision. Bellaire uses a very muted palette, which allows the book to draw our eye where it needs to go; a great idea for a book starring a character named Hawkeye. Thompson also keeps Kate quick on her feet. The combination of these things keeps things from feeling dull and Thompson’s scripts are a lot smarter than she makes our central character; although I found Kate’s solution in the fourth issue a little weak. I also wish there was something deeper to the series, a sense of why Kate needs to have her story told; kind of like what Clint is getting over in Occupy Avengers. We are given an interesting overall direction with Kate finally hunting down her father, but I would like a deeper character arc for Kate too.
Please Kill Me Now, It’s A Full On Scooby Gang Situation: Supporting casts seems to be one of the hardest things to properly execute in comics. How do you choose which characters from the past to include? How do you get people to fall in love with your new creations? Kelly Thompson seems to have a pretty good handle on her cast so far though. Two members of the Scooby Gang (Ramone and Detective Rivera) make decent first impressions. Quinn is more of a joke than a character, but she at least has a strong rapport with Kate. I can’t say I care much for Mikka or Johnny, but I do not dislike them. Mikka and Ramone remind me of Lola and Rafferty over in Robbie Thompson’s Silk series, but I hope Kelly uses them better. The most memorable supporting casts grow alongside the main character and in 26 issues of Silk, neither have had their own story or character arc. The worst sin you can commit is making your supporting cast serve just as story props for the character to use, but I think Thompson will avoid this.
She has also shown a good selection in characters from Kate’s past. Clint’s presence in the book is largely felt in the first issue and then Thompson wisely chooses to move past it (but he better show up at some point.) America Chavez is frequently referenced as well, which is a solid choice since I felt Kate bonded more with America than her teammates from the first run of Young Avengers. And the choice to have Jessica Jones be the first guest star is smart, since Jessica has a solid history with the Young Avengers and their shared job title is a good reason for them to cross paths; fingers crossed for Jessica Drew.
Thompson also makes the audience a character, as Kate’s captions are directed at us as if in conversation. It is a more subtle breaking of the wall than something you would see in Deadpool.
I Knew It, Sorta, I Saw Your Ankle Holster, I Was On My Way To Knowing: Leonardo Romero, Jordie Bellaire, and Joe Sabino create a very realistic world for Kate to play in. Bellaire fills the book with strong lighting and warm but muted colors to sell the Cali experience, but it is little touches like Spider-Ham graffiti on the side of Kate’s building that really sells this world. And the sound effects in this world are great. Some letterers either make them too overbearing or too minimal but Sabino uses different styles for different effects; it makes the big things big, and the small things small. My biggest complaint about the art is the frequent use of white panels. It comes off lazy, unlike say the uses of black panels as a framing device used for comedic effect in and out of fight scenes.
Romero’s art in this series is very minimal, but he knows what details to put in and what to leave out. His facial expressions are great and his use of panels and angles are on point. Because the art is minimal, you can fit a lot on the page and his layouts of buildings and fights are phenomenal. He also conveys a sense of motion well, which brings the fight scenes to life. He also adds in little moments like Kate’s arrows jostling or falling out of the quiver. In fact, Kate’s whole setup (outfit, bow, and arrows) are beautifully realized. There are also grid sequences where Thompson’s captions fit perfectly over top of Romero’s art and that level of unity on the creative team cannot be understated.
Conclusion: Kate Bishop is one of the funniest heroes at Marvel right now and Hawkeye is a powerhouse of a series. There are several sequences where Thompson works perfectly in tandem with her art team and nobody is left to pick up any slack. I am really excited to see where this series goes, but I know my girl Kate is in excellent company.