Superhero comics are designed for us to choose sides. Good guys versus bad guys. They try to spin things once in awhile — making the ultimate good guy into a bad guy — but more often than not, there is an evil entity behind the whole plot and our hero is still one of the good guys.
The next level of choosing sides happens when the world of superheroes becomes divided on an issue. Civil wars erupt. Everyone good is fighting someone else good and the reader is prompted to choose one team over the other. At the end of the day, the differences are resolved, the teams change rosters, and everyone returns to fighting the bad guys again.
At its most granular (and not even considering the whole Marvel vs. DC thing), we are sometimes prompted to choose one version of hero over another. This summer, Marvel is launching a series of Generations titles to pair up heroes of the same name: Thors, Spider-men, Captains America, Wolverines, etc. Bringing the old and new generations together will hopefully not result in having to choose one over the other. There is one pair, however, which has fun asking us to choose: Hawkeye. Which one is your favourite? Which one is the real Hawkeye?
Hawkeye. 4 volumes. Matt Fraction and David Aja. Marvel Comics, 2013-2015.
Fraction’s Hawkeye brings Clint Barton and Kate Bishop to life in a very human way. Two superheroes with the same name, arguing about the little things like brother and sister. This is the story of what is it like to be an Avenger with no special superpowers. What is it like wielding a bow in a world of guns? Is it confusing to have two Hawkeyes? And more importantly, who really owns the dog?
Hawkeye is collected in four volumes, which mostly centre on the trials and tribulations of Clint, but Lady Hawkguy gets her share of the spotlight. The original comic issues are reprinted to allow greater story flow in each book. This puts issues #14, 16, 18, 20, and Annual #1 in Vol. 3: L.A. Woman, giving you all of the Kate-focused issues together.
The banter between Clint and Kate is a lot of fun. This is not a story about the original Hawkeye and his sidekick, Hawkeye. This is a team-up of equals dealing with things that look bad and using wits and arrows to fix them. You don’t have to choose a favourite Hawkeye to enjoy these books.
Hawkeye: Kate Bishop. Vol. 1: Anchor Points. Kelly Thompson and Leonardo Romero. Marvel Comics, 2017. Ongoing in single issues.
Thompson’s Hawkeye continues Kate’s adventures and challenges on the West Coast. She cannot seem to escape Clint’s shadow when potential clients of Hawkeye Investigations keep wondering when he will be in the office. None of that stops Kate’s enthusiasm for finding a client, pursuing a career as an almost-licensed P.I., sporting bandages, and noticing abs.
Hawkeye: Kate Bishop is as much fun as you can have with Hawkeye without involving the other Hawkeye. The back of volume 1 declares that this is “your favourite Hawkeye in her own book at last!” but don’t let this stop you if you are a fan of Clint. If you loved the Clint/Kate Hawkeye duo from Fraction and Aja, don’t miss Kate’s new solo career. Kate feels like the same Kate. The energy and banter haven’t changed and the design and colours seem to flow naturally from the earlier books.
When it comes to choosing sides, don’t pick one Hawkeye over the other. Select your arrows carefully and choose to read both. Because… boomerangs.