by Kelly Thompson, Michael Walsh & Jordie Bellaire
I don’t think anyone who read Hawkeye #12 would be surprised I hereby dub thee best comic of the week. I won’t lie, it was a great week of comics. East of West returned as a somewhat hilarious father and son journey to self discovery. Generation Gone and Kill The Minotaur concluded in artistically astonishing fashion. Batman Who Laughs legitimately horrified me. Joelle Jones was brilliant, as usual, on Batman and Bug, well, I don’t have to tell you how great Bug always is. But, in the midst of all these final chapters, one shots and climactic issues is Hawkeye #12, which breaks from the regular action to tell a fun team up story between Kate, Laura (Wolverine), Gabby (Mini Wolverine) and an actual wolverine.
Kelly Thompson is hilarious. If you aren’t reading Hawkeye, you should be and if you haven’t heard of Kelly Thompson, you should have. Back in 2012 Fraction, Aja and Hollingsworth transformed Hawkeye into one of the best comics year after year with witty comedy and lovable characters. One of those characters was Clint Barton, the other was Kate Bishop and from the first time they appeared, I fell in love with this duo. That 2012 Hawkeye told th,e ever enjoyable story of two non-super superheroes handling the crime of New York. Then, in 2015 the always impressive Jeff Lemire and Ramon Perez took over. Lemire played to his strengths and really focused the book on the relationship between Clint and Kate and what their future may hold if they continue down the destructive path they were on. Which brings us to Kelly Thompson, Michael Walsh and Jordie Bellaire’s Hawkeye starring Kate Bishop. For the first time Kate doesn’t have to share the pages with Clint. She is off in Los Angeles passing the time as a detective. While Lemire took Hawkeye in a different direction, as I believe he should, Thompson is bringing back the feel of the Fraction days. It even has visual similarites with the amazing rough, lived in art of Michael Walsh & regular series artist Leonardo Romero, plus the constant one liners Thompson incorporates into every page. So, there is your history lesson, just wanted to make sure you knew how great Hawkeye has been before I dove into the best issue yet!
Issue #12 takes a break from the intense Madame Masque clones story line for a little team up action with Wolverine and Gabby. Now, this is actually two story ideas rolled into one. Each of them has the potential to be fantastic or down right terrible. The first idea is taking a breather from the intense multi-issue arcs to just spend some time with the characters we love. Much like when the X-Men would finish a giant 5 issue mission and then come back to the University and just hang out. Or when Friends would spend the whole episode in one apartment. When done right these have become some of my favorite comic issues and TV episodes. So, how do you do it right? You need to crush the character work in this type of a story because we don’t really have all the rising and falling action to drive it along. Not only does Thompson nail her Kate writing, as she has been for months now, but she also does great work with Laura and Gabby. The sarcastic witty nature of Kate plays so well off of the unabashedly serious Laura. Throw in the lovable Gabby and this comic has me smiling on every page. This sort of brings me right into my next point which is the other concept utilized in this issue, and that is the team up. I love a good team up story. It was one of the things I loved so much about Fraction’s Hawkeye, the ongoing team up between Clint and Kate. Although, this team up has a much different dynamic. Thompson plays really well off of the non-super superhero teamed up with the super-super superheroes (not sure that is proper English, for a reference on proper English see Buffalo buffalo Bufallo… or James while John had had had had had…). There are certain ways the Wolverines deal with a situation and there are certain ways Kate deals with a situation. The Wolverines’ solutions tend to be more bloody and violent while Kate’s are more crafty. It makes for one hilarious scene while they are all chained upside down from their feet and Laura’s plan is to cut off her feet because eventually they will grow back. When Kate almost throws up Laura says she is working on another plan, Kate asks if it is as gross as foot severing and Laura simply responds yes. I think this is actually Thompson’s forte in comedy, the extra beat. Whenever she creates a funny enjoyable moment there is usually onemore joke that can really get you going. This issue was full of them.
So, while Thompson executes the perfect bridge issue team up, Walsh and Bellaire bring so much character to the story. I was fascinated with the first page of this book. It starts right away with Laura flying through a bar window. I feel like most comics would have set that up with a quiet looking first page and then a full page smash through the window on the second page. However, I really enjoyed the choice of having it right in the first. As soon as you open the book you are saying, “Whoa! What is going on?” Which is basically what Kate is thinking here. It actually brings us all the way back to the 2012 Hawkeye when each of Aja’s opening pages had Clint in some dire situation and the words, “Okay, this looks bad.” Then on the next page we get a terrific layout, that’s become a recurring theme in the book, where Kate scans a room and a bunch of important stuff is targeted and labeled, from the people in the room to the plate of nachos on the table. This book looks amazing from the get go. It’s artistic climax comes when Kate, Laura and Gabby have to fight a large room filled with clones, which was especially interesting because each clone only appeared in the page once, while each of the girls appeared on the page multiple times as they fought their way through the mini clone army. Have I mentioned that Michael Walsh is the best?
You do not need to know any back story for this issue. If you haven’t been reading Hawkeye you can correct that mistake right now. Pick up Hawkeye #12 and enjoy an extremely fun ride as Kate, Laura and Gabby slice and quip their way into your heart. With all the high profile books out there this week, it was Hawkeye #12 that stuck with me. Oh, and watch out for Kelly Thompson because she’s a rock star.