There are two Hawkeyes in the Marvel Universe. Clint Barton, the original article, who has been carrying the bow, arrows, and occasionally a purple mask since he was a member of “Cap’s Kooky Quartet” back in the 1960s. However, he also passed down his bow and name to Kate Bishop, the most competent member of the Young Avengers back in the mid-00s when the Superhuman Registration Act was still a thing. They went their separate ways during Matt Fraction and Dave Aja’s Hawkeye run, but storytellers Jeff Lemire and Ramon Perez along with colorist Ian Herring bring both Hawkeyes together in All-New Hawkeye #1 through a dual narrative structure, different, yet complementary art styles, and a heavy helping of banter.
From the first page, Jeff Lemire and Ramon Perez put their own stamp on the character of Clint Barton and make this new volume of Hawkeye their own. The issue begins with a flashback of Clint and his brother Barney at a foster home in Iowa. Perez doesn’t use panels in these opening pages, which are done in a heavy water color style with just purples and whites, but instead has the various vignettes flow into each other naturally. This creates the effect of this being a deep buried memory. The lack of gutters and panel boundaries give readers the opportunity to slow down and look at the details in the setting and figures though on the surface, it’s just two boys catching frogs at the creek. Perez colors these pages, and the play of purple, white, and later red shows the ebb and flow of the Bartons’ lives as foster kids.
After this short flashback of simpler, but still sad times for Clint, it cuts to the Hawkeyes in action with heavy red colors from Ian Herring and some wide panels. This panel size has the practical and storytelling use of giving these scenes the feel of a big action movie as well as room for Clint and Kate to banter as well as fight. And Lemire nails the goofy, snarky, and unique to say the least mentor/protegee relationship between Clint and Kate. (Or is it the other way around.) He subverts buddy cop cliches and makes Kate the cooler head of the two as she actually sticks to SHIELD’s mission parameters while Clint runs around shooting, kicking, and saying silly things.
Ramon Perez’s work in All-New Hawkeye #1 truly seems like there were two artists on this book. (There are technically two colorists.) The two art styles fit the seemingly two clashing stories in the book: one an emotional personal story and the other an extended spy action sequence. The thin watercolors show Clint’s fragility as a kid while the clear, sparse lines of the present day story show a straightforward, well-composed action plot with some colorful dialogue exchanges to balance fighting and character relationships. And at the end, they merge together somehow and start developing a unified theme for Lemire and Perez’s All-New Hawkeye run in a way which needs to truly be experienced.
All-New Hawkeye #1 has a real potpourri of art styles, coloring techniques (Ian Herring assigns colors to different emotions and then switches them around), and of course, the differences between its two protagonists, who happen to share a code name and weapon of choice. However, Lemire and Perez end up making everything flow together with plenty of creatively choreographed action and heartstrings pulling emotions along the way. All-New Hawkeye #1 continues the tradition of artistic and thematically interesting work involving archers for Marvel Comics (and Jeff Lemire who had a nice run on the Distinguished Competition’s often shirtless bowman).