“Captain America and Hawkeye” #631 opens with Hawkeye facing off against a transformed Captain America. That Cap is a messy amalgamation of Dire Wraith manipulations, dinosaur bones and the Star-Spangled Avenger, resulting in a nightmarish and sprawling visual.
While I like the weight and posture Alessandro Vitti puts into the characters, I find his panel layouts have room for improvement. The heavy shadows and flailing symbiote tendrils muck up a fight between Cap and Hawkeye so badly that I can’t discern why Hawkeye’s swearing, and honestly, I decided I really didn’t care enough to try and dissect the panel and chose instead to move on. A little bit later in the issue the art shifts and the heroes become blockier. I presume this is where the art transitions to Matteo Buffagni, but there are still some poorly composed panels throughout “Captain America and Hawkeye” #631.
Stegron’s appearance in the issue is less dinosaur-man from his classic adventures and more reject from “Dragon Tales.” His physique is slippery and bends more like a sea serpent than a dinosaur and his actions in this book are uninspired, especially his bouncing explanation of what exactly is going on. It comes together poorly, shoehorned into a confrontation between Stegron and this title’s headliners, obviously constructed to complete any missing details in the narrative of this adventure.
A while back I read a tweet from a letterer who said something to the effect of, “I think writers just pound their heads against the keyboards to come up with some of these sound effects.” With a gigantic beast bellowing “Hsssss-rrrrkkkk-krrsskk!” I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it were referring to this story.
Of course the story doesn’t do much to move forward, with Cap and Hawkeye not that much farther along than they were in the first chapter of this four-part story. Cullen Bunn continues to write Hawkeye as a wisecracking upstart who grumpy ol’ Cap just doesn’t understand. That is disappointing as at this point in the characters’ relationship, I feel the duo had gotten beyond that. Drop that into a slow moving story and this series is losing me pretty darn quickly.
The team-ups of my youth were concise stories, complete in an issue or two at the most. Sure, there were underlying subplots and maybe even a recurring villain or two that would stretch beyond the team-up, but the stories were easily attainable, interesting, fun reads that had good to great art and fun interplay between the characters teaming up. “Captain America and Hawkeye” is getting long in the tooth and needs to wrap soon before it collapses under its own weight as it tries to figure out what it wants to be. This is a potentially fun concept, it just needs to be a little more deftly executed.