“A Little Murder: Part 2—Caviar Daze”
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Artists: Joe Bennett (p), Sandu Florea (i)
“Are love and trust the same thing?” For Hawkeye, this is a bitter, persistent question, haunting him throughout his existence—from his debut issue where he fell in love with the manipulative Soviet spy, the Black Widow, to his most recent troubled romance with ex-Master of Evil, Moonstone. And once again, reunited with the Black Widow in “A Little Murder: Part 2—Caviar Daze,” by Fabian Nicieza and Joe Bennett, the archer must not only solve a friend’s murder, but again suppress his emotions in order to do what he considers just.
Nicieza delivers a satisfying, though slightly thin, conclusion to this story-arc; but it’s his character work that is truly outstanding here. The creator of possibly the finest inner-dialogues in comics, Nicieza eloquently exposes two of Hawkeye’s core themes—the archer’s vulnerability towards women and his unmanageable drive towards the truth. And when these two themes clash, as they traditionally do, it always provides a fascinating character study of Hawkeye. Here, readers are treated to a mature and bittersweet exploration of the character’s conflicted loyalties—when, in order to understand his friend’s death, Hawkeye must physically and emotionally defy the Black Widow. Hawkeye’s edgy dread of this imminent confrontation is palpable, while his fierce tenacity is exhausting; Nicieza strikes a perfect balance between the character’s passionate heart and heroic integrity, creating a sharp tension that makes it difficult not to sympathize with the archer, all the while wanting to yell at him for prying into every little problem. Clearly, this is a spotlight issue with extra emphasis on Hawkeye’s private and professional dilemmas. Additionally, Nicieza offers valuable insight into Hawkeye’s circus past and first broken heart.
And, it’s with these flashback circus sequences that artist Joe Bennett demonstrates his keen ability to capture emotion. His young Hawkeye is the essence of naïveté with a mouth prone to gape and eyes brimming with sentiment. Bennett’s characters are also extremely beautiful, particularly the Black Widow with her famous mix of force and femininity. Similarly, Bennett emphasizes Hawkeye’s grace of movement, something rarely portrayed so effectively, as Hawkeye silently sleuths with a flashlight perfectly balanced upon his draw shoulder.
In short, Nicieza and Bennett have told a great character story, one that is fulfilling but also poignant—poignant because Hawkeye’s solo adventures end here. There’s a saying: All good things must end. Apparently, Marvel’s editorial takes that old, tired proverb literally, so much so that they hastily bring to an end good books like HAWKEYE. Still, HAWKEYE has accomplished much in its short run—delivering superbly crafted stories, fleshing out the archer’s previously sketchy origins, and allowing Hawkeye to finally, albeit briefly, shine as a solo act.
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