The second “All-New Hawkeye” #1 for 2015 might as well have been “All-New Hawkeye” #6, as this comic picks up right where “All-New Hawkeye” #5 left off back in September. Fortunately, with Jeff Lemire, Ramon Perez and Ian Herring returning to the book, that means this new issue is just as good as the previous five.
“All-New Hawkeye” #1 gives us a structure hinted at in the previous issue’s cliffhanger, jumping back and forth between the present day and twenty years in the future. It’s a simple conceit that works well. In the present day, we see Clint and Kate’s working relationship completely breaking down in the wake of allowing the children from Project Communion to be taken away; in the future, we learn just how large that rift will become if left unchecked, and how much danger the children are in now that they’re unleashed on the world. This is a success in part because of how tightly the two are integrated; we’re getting cause and effect here, letting the audience know in the present day just how bad things will get when unabated.
Perhaps more importantly, Lemire writes both Clint and Kate very well. Lemire’s overall style is different than previous “Hawkeye” scribe Matt Fraction’s, but where the two connect is in getting just the right relaxed demeanor to the dialogue. Both of them sound not only like people, but like the characters already established. You can hear the disdain just ripple off of Kate’s voice as she deals with Clint, and — when she finally breaks ties in the present — it’s the way in which the two have been addressing one another that sells the moment. Lemire has got a strong ear for the duo and it works to the book’s benefit.
I also greatly appreciate Perez’s versatility as an artist, as he uses two different styles to differentiate between present and future. His pages for the present have a cleaner, more straightforward look that harkens to the same basic feel David Aja created on “Hawkeye.” Herring gives us solid, flat colors to continue that feel, and the duo work up some epic eye-rolls and sneers on these pages. For the future, Perez draws the book much sketchier and looser and takes advantage of the hop to update the characters’ looks. Even if it wasn’t for the different style, you could still tell these were the future versions of the characters thanks to these new designs, which feel just right. My favorite is the future Mandarin, whose slick suit and especially dazzling tie feels a bit futuristic while still befitting the ruler of an entire country.
“All-New Hawkeye” #1 is a very good comic, and hopefully this new #1 will help draw attention to this series. When Fraction and Aja announced their departure from “Hawkeye,” it would have been easy to write off any future creative team, but Lemire and Perez have quickly made the book their own. “All-New Hawkeye” may have its own voice under Lemire and Perez, but it isn’t at the expense of maintaining a high level of quality. Nicely done.