Spinning out of the fabulous, but sadly short-lived, "Hawkeye & Mockingbird" story comes "Widowmaker," a tale once designed to serve as a crossover between "Hawkeye & Mockingbird" and "Black Widow." Given the autonomy of a free-standing miniseries, this story is able to flex and stretch to fill a prescribed dose, instead of hesitating or stutter-stepping its way through two books.
McCann assembles this story as though it were a big budget, high-stakes adventure film frozen onto the printed page. While the story eventually features Hawkeye, Mockingbird, Black Widow, and Dominic Fortune (as well as some surprise guests I promise not to spoil) it doesn't open with any of those characters. The opening scene delivers drama, tension, carnage, and, most importantly, a mystery. A summit between Japan and Russia is on the horizon, but someone wants to stop it. The methods chosen to interrupt that summit involve the killing of nearly eighty people, many of them covert agents. With the leader of the World Counterterrorism Agency, her on-again/off-again lover, and his old flame all card-carrying members of various spy organizations, the trail of death sets Hawkeye and Mockingbird on a collision course with Black Widow.
Awkward. Former flames and jealous hearts add a spicier extra layer to a story that has a lot going for it. McCann's grasp of Hawkeye - and his ability to convey that grasp through the character on the page - helps propel this story above being a simple spy thriller. Hawkeye brings a sense of fun and adventure into this story that otherwise would be a great story in its own right. The cliffhanger ending, though, spells it all out without telling us anything: Hawkeye and Mockingbird have really stepped in it, except they don't know what "it" is.
Such a fabulous, high-strung adventure tale deserves equally fabulous art, and David LÃ³pez, Alvaro LÃ³pez, and Nathan Fairbairn certainly deliver. Their art is every bit as solid as it was in the regular "Hawkeye & Mockingbird" series, but in this issue, Fairbairn's coloring is kicked up that extra notch. When the bad guys strike, you know it as Fairbairn submerges the entire panel into a sea of red. The rest of the story is organic and lively, with LÃ³pez's deceptively understated art delivering emotion, action, backgrounds, and technology with great zest. This is a beautiful looking book, and the various and sundry locales give the entire creative team a chance to shine.
I'm not completely certain if a miniseries is the best vehicle to deliver Hawkeye stories, but if I can get this quality on a regular basis - as I did with the monthly series and with the first issue of this mini - then I truly don't care how I get it or what the numbering sequence is on the cover. Give me an ongoing series or a series of miniseries; just give me more awesome Hawkeye, Mockingbird, and Black Widow stories from McCann, LÃ³pez, and company. This issue delivers a nice punch for the price. Do yourself a favor and splurge on a holiday treat. You can thank me next year.