Hawkeye messes up in this issue. I don't mean mixed the reds and the whites in the laundry type of mess up. This one's pretty huge, and in this issue, the setup, delivery, and payout are all present. None of it is predictable and all of it is masterfully handled, with foreshadowing aplenty.
Jim McCann has a knack for the characters in this book. I'm not limiting that statement to Hawkeye and Mockingbird; I'm extending it all the way down to Twitchy, Bangs, and London. All of these characters project from the page, and all carry unique voices. Concurrent with establishing who everyone is in this issue, McCann also thickens up the plot, adding murkiness from more than one source as Hawkeye and Mockingbird perceive the events around them differently. The end result is a story that elicits concern for the characters.
Hawkeye and Mockingbird are up against their greatest foes, their relationship is being tested, and they are unwittingly further complicating their own situations with their attempts to make things better.
McCann doesn't leave the villains off in a corner, appearing only to tie damsels to the railroads tracks and twirl their mustaches. We get to see the dynamic between Crossfire and Phantom Rider as they set their agenda, adjust to each other, and size up their foes. McCann writes them both as characters who aren't evil, but driven. McCann's writing is solid, his characters are lively and not timid, and the story is moving along at an interesting clip, with stunning results.
The art team of Lopez and LÃ³pez give "Hawkeye & Mockingbird" a clean, solid appearance unlike anything else on the stands right now. That's not to say the art is disturbing or foreign, but it is clean, crisp, and concise, not unlike that of Cliff Chiang.
Fairbairn's colors get loud in spots, but this is a book featuring a man in blue and purple squaring up against a man wearing a Red Cross strike force prototype uniform. There are spots where it needs to be loud. Similarly, when the color should be subdued, it is, but the flavor of the book stays within a set palette throughout.
This is a book I didn't know I wanted to read, but absolutely cannot wait until the next issue. My reviewing cohort, James Hunt, compared this title to "Captain Britain," "SWORD," and "Power Girl." I agree and disagree. This is a title that is probably going to need some sales help just like those titles, but unlike those titles, this one features a character most Marvel comics readers have some level of familiarity with.
While it has spun out of the "Dark Reign" and the "Heroic Age," this title isn't tied deeply to either event, and as of this second issue is still very approachable.