Review: Hawkeye #7
“Hawkeye #7 demonstrates once again that the creative team has a keen grasp of who their characters are and where they want those characters to move narratively, while never forgetting to keep a balance of propelling action and character development.”
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artists: Leonardo Romero (pencils), Jordie Bellaire (colors)
Release Date: Wed, June 7, 2017
Caution: Mild spoilers ahead.
Part of the conceit of Marvel’s Hawkeye earlier this year is that Kate Bishop, former Young Avenger, part-time Hawkeye, and full-time do-gooder, traveled to LA to set up a private eye agency in part to hunt down her missing father. Writer Kelly Thompson, artist Leonardo Romero, and colorist Jodie Bellaire turn to that story thread—and Kate’s past as a whole—with earnest in Hawkeye #7, on sale now.
After some ne’er-do-wells jumped Kate in her P.I. office at the end of last issue, this chapter opens with her at her desk, opening a box the men left behind. The contents have a direct connection to Kate’s past: a necklace her mother wore that symbolized the bond between Kate, her sister, and her mother. Also left behind is a note with an address to a high-rise office building, taunting Kate to come “chat,” signed M.M. Kate assumes that the author is the villainous Madame Masque, who she’s had unfortunate encounters with on an occasion or two. However, after tussling with some muscle on her way to her quarry’s office, she receives a bit of a shock.
In between the narrative lines, we get a glimpse into Kate’s past, including her relationship with her mom and why their closeness was frayed due to the machinations of her father. There’s a melancholy that hangs over the bright scenes of the past—even when enjoying some pool time with her mother—that provides a nice juxtaposition and piece of foreshadowing of what’s to come.
That narrative nimbleness is just one way that Thompson produces her best issue yet of Hawkeye, which is saying something. What is so refreshing about her approach to the issue is that, while she’s clearly intent on building suspense to the book, she’s not dragging the story out to create drama for drama’s sake. For the past decade+, there’s been a move toward story decompression, drawing out a story into five issues that feasibly feels at times like it could be done in three. And while there are places where that type of storytelling fits, it can test the patience of readers when not done judiciously.
That’s not to say that writers should let readers steer the ship. There’s a balance that can be achieved, drawing on the strengths of multiple types of storytelling to produce a suspenseful tale, full of character development, and chock-full of action—which is what we get in issue #7. For instance, Thompson lets Kate still be her jokey self, but it’s noticeably muted, given the gravity of the situation in which she finds herself, as shown in her interactions with Detective Rivera at the police station. And while Kate applies her superheroics to her investigation of the necklace, the flashbacks focusing on her askew family dynamics stress the real stakes Kate has in what might be her ultimate case.
Thus far, while there have been several tense, action-packed moments in Hawkeye, there haven’t been instances that haven’t descended to downright stomach-churning until this issue, chiefly stemming from scenes featuring Kate’s dad. Romero’s linework is often conservative, choosing to use a minimal amount of marks to achieve the composition of a particular scene, and no one where does it work so well as the introduction of Mr. Bishop in the summer camp office. With just a couple of lines, Romero produces a menace about the man that is eerie, with a slight smile and furrowed brows that convey a sinister agenda lurking behind an “everything is fine, see?” countenance. I’ve seen that face before and it’s just as unnerving on the page as it is in the flesh-and-blood world.
But it’s not all unrest and ill-omens. When talking about the issue, that fight scene in the high rise has to be addressed. I don’t know what the back-and-forth was like with Thompson and Romero in creating the composition of the melee between Kate and a few dozen hired goons, but the effect is a PG-13 version of the Crazy 88 throwdown at the end of Kill Bill Vol. 1—and that is meant in the most flattering way possible. Watching her handily dispatch the men trying to impede her way is just a joy to behold, and Romero sticks the landing of the page layouts beautifully. If this issue is about confronting our demons and gatekeepers stymieing that confrontation, then be-suited muscle, given Kate’s background, seems pert near perfect as the final test before the Big Bad(?) we meet at the issue’s end. Taking into account Thompson’s hints that men in three pieces have been constant thorns in her side for years, it makes narrative sense that they would factor in symbolically and not-so-symbolically here. Thompson and Romero put Kate to task to just through hoops and off ledges yet one more time and it’s a thing to behold as she tics each off with ease.
Once again, Bellaire’s color palette pairs beautifully with Romero’s art, dancing between the tones and the moods that Thompson is building with her tale. She has a talent of when to know when to employ lighter tones to a scene and when to pull back on those same bright colors when the nature of the narrative is darkening. Case in point: During the flashback scene from summer camp, Kate’s outline immediately darkens when she’s told her mom has showed up to see her. Not only does this demonstrate Bellaire’s handle on how color moves narration, but those instincts pair beautifully with Romero’s linework, like an ice skating pair in tandem.
Hawkeye #7 demonstrates once again that the creative team has a keen grasp of who their characters are and where they want those characters to move narratively, while never forgetting to keep a balance of propelling action and character development.
Hawkeye #7, written by Kelly Thompson with Leonardo Romero on art and Jordie Bellaire on colors, is on sale now from Marvel Comics.
From the official issue description:
Hawkeye finally gets a lead on the top-secret case that brought her out to Los Angeles in the first place — and it might be more than she bargained for…In order to solve this mystery, Kate will have to take a good hard look and who she is and where she came from. But is she really ready to face the ghosts of her past?