I find the severe lack of bros here to be a problem. Yet also a refresher. Anyone who knows Hawkeye knows what I’m talking about. Basically, Russian tracksuit bros, bro.
While as a reader of Hawkeye I need my Russian tracksuit mafia fix, I do appreciate the occasional divergence to the female’s perspective of events. Here we get an expansion on the events of what happened at the end of the Pizza Dog issue of Hawkeye. Kate Bishop, our female Hawkeye, is off to the west coast (California to be precise) to get some time away from the Clint Barton (our male Hawkeye) drama. And she runs off with Pizza Dog too. And from here we get back into the side plot from Hawkeye numbers four and five.
It’s good for a series as varied in tone and style as Hawkeye to maintain the sort of relaxed-continuity structure of the Marvel universe as a whole, but applied internally rather than to the external reach of the universe. Rather than keep a one-in-done nature for the whole run, Fraction takes that one-in-done style and creates a series of recurring plot points and characters out of it, revisited time and time in either small arcs or one shots. The grand design’s implementation occurs here, with Kate running into Madame Masque again, who this time is out looking for revenge. And again, it is done in a one-shot style and again, it maintains the aforementioned internal continuity. This sort of continuity is also maintained thematically and tonally but that’s beside the point. So what is the point I’m trying to make here?
That Hawkeye is far more structured than people give it credit for.[Here on out is spoiler territory, which shouldn’t even matter since you should’ve read it already if you’re reading a review of it..] So what happens in Hawkeye Annual #1? Not much other than Kate heads off to California with Pizza Dog, runs into some trouble with Madame Masque, and Kate learns a lesson. While this may not seem like much, it is actually much more than it really is. We get major character development for spoiled, rich valley-girl Kate Bishop, we learn Masque’s base motivations for taking Kate out (which are pretty ingenious if quite simple), and we learn how Kate stands out on her own apart from Clint with a particularly great action sequence where she improvises without using a bow. It all seems really simple on the surface level but Fraction takes things deeper than the surface level.
Along with this all subtle development we get some great art from Javier Pulido, the artist from the aforementioned two-part arc from numbers four and five (see, we even get creative continuity!) whose kind of 70’s pop-art inflected style meshes well with Matt Hollingsworth’s retro-coloring style, evoking that 70’s pop-cult style that still retains popularity even today. Pulido also pulls off a neat trick by stylizing Kate’s inner monologue with miniature versions of Kate making expressive face emotions (for such a simplified tiny figure) that really brings an emotional quality to what could’ve been comic cliché number one million. Fraction and Pulido work really well in conjunction with each other, and while I prefer Aja’s artwork, I wouldn’t mind if Pulido took over as a regular artist.
Hawkeye Annual #1 may only be an annual, but it still fits within the timeline of the main numbering. Hawkeye, even with its one-shot nature, makes it so that every issue is essential. Every little throwaway plot point is actually sacred, even if no one’s essentially realized it yet. While I find scores to be arbitrary and wasted, I guess I’d give this a four out of five. It’s highly impressive on many terms and factors, but it certainly isn’t as award-worthy as #11 was. Still, check this out and hop on the Hawkeye hype train, bro.