When it started, “Dark Reign: Hawkeye” was one of the strongest tie-in minis to come out of the event. A five-month gap, although attributed to Diggle’s assuming the reins to “Daredevil,” was taken by many as an indication that the final issue would have major consequences for Bullseye — or even Dark Reign as a whole. But that isn’t the case. Whatever the cause of the delay, it seems that the series’ legacy will mainly be a cautionary tale for how a several month gap can negatively impact a comic.
Indeed, artist Tom Raney, who was producing some fantastic work in the series, has moved on in the interim. Diggle himself is joined by co-writer Anthony Johnston. The results are competent enough, but severely lack the confidence and consistency of the earlier issues. The series stumbled a little when the central mystery began to unspool, and it was never as good as the earliest couple of issues, but it’s hard not to feel like the delay has had a substantially negative effect on it.
The previous issue of the series revealed that Bullseye’s nemesis was none other than his own father, picking up a plot thread from “Bullseye: Greatest Hits,” a 2004 miniseries that has been largely unreferenced since. That, in itself, felt like an unsatisfactory and confusing payoff, while this issue resolves the Ben Urich storyline in a disappointingly predictable manner. Diggle’s work is usually inventive and original, but aside from the climatic action scene, which is enjoyably absurd, there’s little about this which bears any of Diggle’s hallmarks.
Andres Guinaldo’s work is decent enough, but compared to Raney’s top form, it can’t help but be a little disappointing. While both artists have a clean look and similar grasp of character movement, Guinaldo relies too heavily on “widescreen” panels to convey subtle action, yet struggles during the climatic action scene where a greater sense of scale is called for.
Taken as a whole, though, the real problem with the story is that doesn’t feel like it has much to say about the character. Early hints that the series would look at how “playing hero” might affect Bullseye appear to have fallen by the wayside, leaving the book struggling to find a core concept. It was never worse than “okay,” but with a writer like Diggle attached, “okay” is well below par.