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All-New Hawkeye #1

by Kalem Lalonde on March 04, 2015

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Ramon Perez

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never jumped aboard the Hawkeye hype train. I loved the first 8 issues or so but once the comic started to implement a plot and split the two Hawkeyes up, I just lost interest. Not to say that I think it’s bad, but the series never hooked me as much as everyone else. And so when I heard the series was getting relaunched, I wasn’t sad or disappointed, I was actually quite eager. Especially since this series bares the creative team of Jeff Lemire and Ramon Perez. Now, after having read this issue I can say that this relaunch was an incredible idea. Lemire and Perez knock it out of the park with their first Hawkeye outing!

Coming off of Matt Fraction and David Aja’s run is no easy task. Despite my problems with the series, it’s held so high in the eyes of so many fans that it must be so daunting to carry the torch after them. Lemire and Perez do so perfectly in this debut issue. They find a perfect balance of reflecting the old series while finding their own voice on the book.

Whereas Hawkeye shined in its slice-of-life style of stories, All-New Hawkeye has taken the fun adventure route. Which to me is a perfect fit for the archer duo. It embraces the tone of the previous volume but brings along a more conventional superhero storyline. Which is by no means a bad thing because it allows for the characters and tone to shine while not feeling like a rehash of the old series. It keeps the Hawkeye feel going but changes it up just enough to feel new and fresh.

In terms of tone, this series finds a great balance of fun and dark. The present-day storyline has the quirky dialogue Hawkeye was known for. Lemire nails the dynamic between Kate and Clint, showing how well he can characterize both of them. They have always been the leading force of the Hawkeye book and I’m so glad to see them together again. With this duo at the forefront, the series doesn’t need a complex plot. Simple story with focus and our protagonists. That’s how I like my Hawkeye.

Another new aspect Lemire has brought to the table is a second storyline taking place in Clint and Barney’s childhood. This story is the aforementioned darker portion of this issue. It brings this comic to another level because instead of being all fun, Lemire is able to add weight and emotion to the issue without compromising the amusement.

 The story that Lemire is building in the flashbacks is a great tale of two orphans trying to find their place in the world. Clint and Barney keep jumping from house to house which seems to be taking its toll on Clint. As for Barney, he’s obviously the stronger one who takes the lead and stands up to their terrible foster parents. It’s a poignant story and Lemire crafts and excellent bond between these two brothers very quickly. I was a little skeptical when I first heard of these flashbacks, but they have earned their place in this series. They could even be the best part about it.

This is my first exposure to Ramon Perez’s art and I can say that I am beyond impressed with him. Mainly because he interoperates two styles of drawing in one issue and both of them are amazing. His style for the present-day story is evidently Aja-inspired and he does a solid job of imitating the fan-favourite artist. His action is dynamic and simplistic, fitting the tone of the series quite well. But the standout comes from the flashback sequences. His art looks like a beautifully painting with inventive paneling. Panels fade into each other in such a smooth manner that I barely noticed it wasn’t a splash page. A series like this needs a good artist and Ramon Perez is just the guy for the job!

If you were worried that Hawkeye wouldn’t live on past Fraction and Aja, you needn’t worry any longer. Jeff Lemire and Ramon Perez are here to show us just that these characters can live on past their defining creative team. Lemire and Perez’s debut issue pays respect to its predecessor while finding its own powerful and unique voice. This is one of the best debuts of the year by two creators who are at the top of their game. Hop on board Hawkeye fans, you won’t be disappointed!

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