SLUGFEST: Ultimate Comics Hawkeye #1

A comic review article by: The Firing Squad
Ultimately, this is a comic book about Hawkeye, a man who lives in a world where supervillains effectively hatch plans to flood New York City yet chooses to solve his problems with an archery set.

Shawn Hill:
Travis Walecka:

Shawn Hill:

This is an underwhelming disappointment. One comes to a Hawkeye comic hoping for a barrage of on-target attacks, masterful action scenes starring the hero who never misses (and who has a reason to always be on point and ready to aim and fire, as we saw his family killed before his eyes when he was betrayed by a colleague a few years back). I don't think one is looking instead for a murky reading on the state of East/West politics, a generic cameo from Nick Fury or a retread plot from old mutant books.

With no direct acknowledgment of just what the X-Gene is and does for Ultimate Marvel (a pretty basic plot-point in this alternate reality, I'd think), the story involves the "Southeast Asian Republic" developing a way both to terminate the X-Gene (by a virus) and then repower it (with an antidote) in agents under governmental control. Ostensibly. Beyond being one very stupid and complicated plan, Hickman and Sandoval do no one any favors by characterizing the Asian scientists and "dictators" as wrinkled, sneering, murderous cartoon villains, willing to experiment on their own people in order to undermine American interests. Such a depiction of the bad guys in a comic that has ties to the sometimes politically-inflected Ultimates is distasteful and veers close to racism.

Especially when you have the scientists come crying to the Triskelion when their experiments of course go wildly awry (and be threatened with execution even then). Sandoval's art does reasonable work with the empowered new mutants, even if they look vaguely like glowing escapees from TRON's mainframe. The idea has some interest, as the new artificial race seems to have its own communal agenda and vision somehow inherent within their transformations, something not designed by the scientists. There's one spooky scene where an angelic avatar seems to hint of of some underlying plan.

But otherwise we only see them either making vague threats or being executed, and this is something that the X-Books have been trying out with new supposedly mutant-besting master races for at least twenty years. None of them ever stick or are interesting, and they're not going to be until even one of them gets a personality. No such luck this issue.

Combine those clichés with a Hawkeye who shoots four arrows (three of them at the same foe!) and throws two shards of glass, total. He spends the rest of the issue talking politics with jackboots, resulting in a dull and generic misfire of a first issue. The excitement generated by the badass Clint of Kaare Andrew's distinctive cover (which offers up the Ultimate Clint in marked contrast to his more jovial 616 version) is nowhere to be found inside.

Shawn Hill knows two things: comics and art history. Find his art at

Travis Walecka:

Tying in the Ultimate Universe as ultimately as Marvel can, Jonathan Hickman steps back into the forefront to pick up some loose ends from last week’s Ultimates #1. The problem here, however, this book serves more as Ultimates #1.1 rather than a spotlight on the dynamic avenging archer.

Ultimate Comics Hawkeye #1 really doesn’t have a whole lot of Hawkeye at all, this side of a few gung-ho moments that require Nick Fury’s not-so-secret-sniper for tragedy response. There’s an evil metahuman attack on the S.E.A.R., a Triskelion base that actually proves an enticing environment for this sort of situation. It’s just a shame those jumping on to the new Ultimate line will have no idea why they should care for Hawkeye, what makes him tick, and why Nick chose the man as his marksmen in the first place. Hickman undoubtedly writes superior technical suspense; unfortunately, there’s an apparent lack of emotional resonance for having the spotlight on Clint Barton in the first place.

My other issue with the tie-in is the art. Sure, Rafa Sandoval’s been receiving some decent marks for his work in this issue from other journalists and his past work on The Incredible Hercules and Avengers: The Initiative was admirable. But for something as intense, and as supposedly modern as the Ultimate line, Sandoval’s late '80s cartoonish style doesn’t quite add up.

Ultimate Comics is a modernized telling of the Marvel Universe, undoubtedly tying into the Avengers movie line as well as its explosive new breed of fans 00 and we’re getting kiddish art. No matter how solid, the panels lack the realistically intense pencils found from other artists such as Jerome Opena, Steve McNiven and even Ultimates #1's very own Esad Ribic.

So, no matter how Ultimate Comics Hawkeye appears, laces up subplots, or serves as an enjoyable piece of sci-fi fiction, there’s an overall lack of Barton gravitas in this comic and that certainly needs to be addressed in issue #2.

Travis Walecka has gone through more phases than Paris Hilton has gone through tan lines. Or, more apropos, more phases than there are Batman titles. Hip-hop critic. MMA fighter. Furniture mover. Screenwriter. Hollywood bouncer. This guy puts Dean Malenko to shame, or at least Hayden Christensen. Nonetheless, the newfound phase of this all-too-positive "Loose Cannon" (as monikered from various music and film review sites) is simply comics. And it's going on three years strong. After blowing the lot of his savings on graphic novels and stupid "collectible" figurines, Travis decided to leave them all in Boston and head to his next destiny: Hollywood, California.

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