Hawkeye may not have a regular series, but a series of miniseries is close enough for me. I'm not sure what the logic is behind this publication schedule, but it has given McCann a chance to investigate Hawkeye from multiple angles. This series opens with an issue that is all Hawkeye at his very best: bold bravado, brash one-liners, and confidence to back up his words. Except for one thing. Hawkeye misses an easy shot that would have expedited the end of a battle with some remnants from the Masters of Evil (Absorbing Man, Gray Gargoyle, Mister Hyde, and Tiger Shark). Instead, Hawkeye's Avenger teammates have to clean up his mess. That, gentle readers, is just in the first three story pages.
My first experience with Hawkeye in the spotlight was in "Avengers" #223, arguably one of the best Hawkeye stories (or at least covers) ever. That story pitted Hawkeye and Ant-Man (the Scott Lang version) against Taskmaster, and it was wonderful. This story runs right alongside that one. Beset by the fact that his eyesight is fading, due to an onset of occipital blindness, Hawkeye puts on his happy face and finds ways to make light of it all, including an obligatory Daredevil joke.
Still, the reality comes through as Hawkeye is forced to confront his past on multiple fronts, as the occipital blindness brings past occurrences to the forefront of Hawkeye's mind and, subsequently, McCann's story alongside a character from Hawkeye's colorful past. In this one issue, we reflect with Hawkeye as he finds the circus where he met both Swordsman and Trick Shot. There's also his team-up with Black Widow as both battle Iron Man.
Paco Diaz draws it all up with masterful precision, playing with the visions of the past just as smoothly as the action of the present. Hawkeye's bluff and Iron Man's reaction are filled with unmistakable emotion and carry the tone of the story nicely. Unfortunately, Diaz is paired up with an inconsistent colorist in the form of Tomeu Morey. Morey's flashback sequences are pitch-perfect and evoke a high sense of nostalgia. The modern scenes, however, are less than awesome, and frequently the pages seem to be washed in magenta or orange, giving many of the characters an unhealthy pallor. To the best of my knowledge, however, this is the first pairing of this duo and I am certain those inconsistencies will even out.
Whether you like what McCann has been doing with "Hawkeye and Mockingbird" and "Widowmaker," or are just a fan of the Clint Barton character, this issue offers quite a bang for your three bucks. Marvel's made the point of offering dot one comics to lure new readers in to existing stories. I've read a few of those dot ones and, honestly, they pale in craft and content compared to this one single issue. This issue does a marvelous job of capturing the spirit of the characters, relaying their history, and setting a new course for the action to come. This is a throwback to how comics used to be: new reader friendly, old reader relevant, and action packed. I've never been the biggest Hawkeye fan, but McCann has been winning me over bit by bit. This one issue, however, brought me the rest of the way along the journey. If the next three issues bring as much to the table as this one issue, this Hawkeye series will be one to remember for the ages, just like that classic "Avengers" cover.