“A Little Murder: Part 1—Proletariat Knights”
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Artists: Joe Bennett (p), Sandu Florea (i)
“C’mon, Steve—does bein’ Captain America and Hawkeye mean we only deal with Kang and Bang?” Once again, Hawkeye is determined to defend the “little guy” and bring villains to justice after he learns that his favorite deli owner has been brutally slain. Investigating this murder, however, soon leads Hawkeye to a riveting confrontation with the Russian mob, a surprising discovery about the victim’s military past, and an awkward conflict with a close friend. In “A Little Murder: Part 1—Proletariat Knights” by Fabian Nicieza and new penciler, Joe Bennett, this series acquires a more classic superhero feel—complete with costume, combat, and guest appearances by Captain America and the Black Widow.
This is the sharpest HAWKEYE to date. The plot is complicated but not overwhelmingly so; the characters are larger-than-life but convincing; and the dialogue is a swift stream of quotable quips. Additionally, the issue is full of standout scenes that emphasize Hawkeye’s energy and charisma—especially as he battles the Russian mob and trains with Captain America. The scene with Captain America actually provides some of the best exchanges between the two characters in recent years, making it evident exactly why these Avengers have been so remarkably compatible for the past four decades. As the characters spar, Hawkeye’s forceful personality bombards Captain America much like his volley of arrows, constantly making the Captain block, dodge, and pay acute attention; and, on his part, Hawkeye studies his friend—both in combative movement and personal advice. Clearly, Nicieza’s chief strength is in character presentation; and it’s been a delight to watch him explore Hawkeye throughout this series—but especially in this issue, where Hawkeye interacts with familiar and unfamiliar characters, such as an interesting one-armed archer and teen-Hawkeye’s circus girlfriend (introduced during the opening flashback sequence). This ex-girlfriend promises further details into Hawkeye’s troubled past with women; and she thematically compliments the surprise guest-appearance by the Black Widow—who dramatically swings into the final pages of the story to inexplicably incinerate all of Hawkeye’s work and all of Hawkeye’s cool.
As for the art—the mood of HAWKEYE has definitely become caffeinated. Eyes can’t open wide enough to soak in all the activity. The most noteworthy action is when Hawkeye makes painfully short work out of the Russian mob and veteran assassin, Foxfire. Here, the archer flips through storms of bullets, drops trees on his foes, uses gunmen to crash open windows for him, and even scampers up a bookcase with his new-and-improved deep-treaded boots. Under Bennett’s pencil, Hawkeye’s body is as much a weapon as is his bow; and it’s almost sad to see the way Hawkeye utterly thrashes Foxfire, disabling his weaponry, kicking him senseless in the face, and finally flooring him with a sharp swing of the bow. Bennett excels in superhero action. Plus, his characters are very attractive in features and bearing, especially Hawkeye in costume and the Black Widow. The only—very minor and very common—problem is that Hawkeye and Captain America are identical twins without their masks.
In sum, Nicieza continues to offer in-depth character moments, but now adds spicier action and familiar faces to the mix. And with Bennett on pencils, this story is a precious reward for any Hawkeye or classic superhero fan.
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