The finale of what was once intended as a crossover between “Hawkeye & Mockingbird” and “Black Widow,” delivers a conclusion that puts things nice and tidy, as though the teacher in the room just gave the kids a five minute warning. In the in-between, however, this issue is cover-to-cover action with very little room for any of the characters to catch a breath, especially as they race up the side of an exploding volcano.
From the moment the cover is cracked open, this story just bleeds action. There’s a phalanx of Super Soviets swooping in from the skies and a battalion of Dark Ocean lackeys rushing forward with their swords drawn and blood on their minds. The overwhelming numbers are commanded by Alexi Shostakov, who boldly reveals himself as Ronin, even though he expected those who beheld his image beforehand to fall upon their swords in penance. The frantic pace of this issue, picking up from the cliffhanger of the third issue reveals how incredibly reliant Marvel has become on their “Previously. . .” pages as the credits for the book are jammed into a sliver of the last panel on page one.
Garcia’s art is a stark contrast to the LÃ³pez work that filled the odd-numbered issues, but it brings a grit and soot-covered appearance that fits in tightly with the story unfolding under the clouds spewing forth from the volcano. The action is so intense and the story so frantic, that I nearly missed the setup for the next set of Hawkeye’s adventures. “Hawkeye: Blindspot” picks up from here, and after reading the news about that series, I found myself compelled to go back to this story once more, seeking clarification on the premise being set up. It comes in a scene that could have been framed differently and would have then raised awareness a bit more, but it also gets brushed past quickly by this issue’s rush to resolution.
There’s a surprise nestled in during Widow’s fight with her ex that stunned me. I actually stopped and analyzed the image on the page, trying to rationalize what I was seeing and its obvious impact upon the Marvel Universe, but Swierczynski made good on that, giving me closure and answering those questions efficiently and effectively. All in all, this series delivered an action-packed story that gave Hawkeye, Mockingbird, Black Widow, and Dominic Fortune all a fair amount of time in the spotlight, putting the Ronin identity to rest while playing the quartet off of each other nicely. It is an enjoyable story, but not the greatest of the ages. Where these four go from here and how their paths align will be interesting to see.