Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Artists: Joe Bennett (p), Sandu Florea (i)
After a look back at Hawkeye's past where we see he was tied to the Ringmaster and his Circus of Crime, we jump to the present day where we see Hawkeye is investigating the murder of a man who ran the deli across the street from his gym. However, the more he looks into this man's murder the more he becomes convinced that there might've been a pretty good reason why people would want to see this man dead, and things takes a surprising turn when he's confronted by the man's murderer.
The murder mystery plot is a bit similar to the opening arc, but it would seem the fact that he's only got two issues to work with has resulted in Fabian Nicieza arriving at the big secret with a great deal more economy, this makes the story far more engaging, as the eye-opening revelation about the murder victim carries more impact when it come so quick on the heels of the murder itself. It also doesn't hurt that the final page also offers up the truly surprising revelation of who did the dirty deed, and if nothing else I welcome the return of this character as she's spent far too long lurking about on the edges of comic book limbo. Now my fingers are crossed for her return to the pages of the Avengers, as Brian Michael Bendis does seem to be suggesting that we'll be seeing big gun characters joining the cast that have never been part of the group, and Daredevil fits this character description, and this in turn gives our mystery hero a foot in the door, as she's connected to both the Avengers, and Daredevil. Getting back to this issue though I have to say I was impressed by the role that this character has been given in this story as while I'm a bit nervous that the story might've taken the character down a path I'm not sure I want her moving down, I can't deny the final page revelation is very effective, and I'll be counting the days until the next issue's arrival so I can see how Hawkeye reacts to this bit of insight. The issue also manages to set up a an interesting little past association to a band of villains that I must confess I hold a soft spot for, and while this connection isn't likely to get followed up on before the book ends, it's a promising future story nonetheless.
Joe Bennett is one of my favorite artists who is currently without a book to call home, and my fingers are crossed for the rumor that he's slated to take over as the artist on Christopher Priest's "Captain America and the Falcon" series, as he would bring a highly polished style to a book that is in desperate need of such an artist. In any event he does bring a wonderful look to this book as Hawkeye looks like the action hero he needs to be, as there's a great looking sequence where he smashes his way through a group of thugs, before continuing on into the inside of a mob boss' home, with a clever attack using his bow as a battering ram. There's also an interesting series of panels where we see Hawkeye attempts to hit a bullseye using only one arm, and I have to say this was one of the cooler looking trick shots that I've ever seen him attempt. I also loved the action sequence where Hawkeye is battling the cyborg thug, as there's a great looking panel where he delivers a bone crushing boot to the head. The last page arrival of our guest-hero is also a lovely piece of art. I love the cover to this issue as well, if only for the simple fact that it shows Hawkeye with a near empty quiver as he stands over an army of fallen attackers.
I realize the Marvel Universe is full of cyborgs with massive guns, but if there was one element that I didn't find myself missing was the wave of these generic underlings that flooded the marketplace in the grim and gritty 1990s. I mean I'll confess I found the original Terminator to be an exceptionally cool film, and it's sequel was also pretty damn entertaining, but my main problem with them is that they unleashed a flood of robotic villains who marched across the silver screen, and the comic pages looking to recapture the unstoppable killing machine feel those films did such an effective job of delivering. One of the more annoying elements of the 1990s is that the creative imagination of the writers seemed to be rather limited, as it seemed like every second new villain that was introduced during this decade was a ruthless killer who had one of their eyes replaces by an artificial device, and having them wandered around with a massive gun was seen as another kewl thing that readers would eat up. However, in an era when the writers are showing so much more creative thought in the development of the villains they send after our heroes, I have to say the cyborg henchman that is sent after Clint felt like a return to an era that is best left forgotten. Now that I've wasted most of my time whining about the cyborg underling, I have to make mention of the final page surprise admission that I have to say left me incredibly nervous, as I'd hate for this character to travel down the path that this story looks to be taking her in the final pages of this issue, as it taints the character with a label that isn't easy to get rid of.
And The Killer Is...
Hawkeye is pulled into yet another mystery, and once again he learns there is more to the situation than meets the eye, as his murder victim starts to gain elements that make him less sympathetic than the kindhearted family man that Hawkeye starts the issue believing his to be. Of course the big hook of this story would be the debate about the idea of redemption, as both Hawkeye and his mystery guest/murderer were seen as villains when they first arrived on the scene, and both were given the opportunity to show themselves to be heroes, which in turn drove Hawkeye's later involvement in the Thunderbolts. However, this issue offers up a murder victim who appears to be responsible of criminal actions that earned him the title of the Butcher of Shir Khan, and while he made a new life for himself in America and looks to be a loving father and devoted husband, the question of whether he can escape his past makes for a wonderfully compelling standoff moment. It also brings up the question of whether he was killed because of his past, or was he on the verge of continuing his evil ways, and this in turn resulted in his death. In any event I'm looking forward to the explanation that will hopefully lay it all out, and hopefully explain the murdering ways of our guest-hero.
What did you think of this book?
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