Jim McCann has a gift for telling stories that reference older Marvel storylines, while providing enough clear exposition and — the harder part — emotional weight to allow new readers to jump right in. This issue wraps up the Phantom Rider storyline nicely, while escalating the personal conflict between Clint and Bobbi. Artist David Lopez does his best work yet.
I’ve consistently enjoyed this book, but something about the latest issue of Hawkeye & Mockingbird left me cold. From the start, there was always something dark just below the really cool spy-stuff, but I feel as though this issue really brought it all to the surface and, maybe, it was a little too much. I understand it was trying to illustrate that being a spy, unlike being a superhero, can be a brutal and messy business. But even though I get what McCann and company were trying to do, it doesn’t mean I have to like it. Clint and Bobbi have a lot of personal stuff to work through (A LOT) and I hope, despite how it appeared at the end of the issue, that they can do so successfully.
This was a strong conclusion to the battle against the Phantom Rider(s), the conflict that’s haunted this book since issue 1. David Lopez’ art just keeps getting stronger, and the pages are just beautiful. Jim McCann, meanwhile, continues his excellent exploration of Clint and Bobbi, as characters and as a couple, telling me more about who they are than any comic I’ve read before. I don’t know much about these characters and their histories, particularly Bobbi’s, and the way McCann uses past canon without confusing new readers is something to be commended. Especially significant here are the moral differences between Clint and Bobbi as spies and superheroes, and an examination of just how far each is willing to descend into violence. Unfortunately, some strange pacing issues made parts of this issue a little hard to follow — I didn’t realize a whole night had passed before the final scene until I read McCann’s letter column. Otherwise, this was a great issue of a great book, and I pray it survives past the upcoming Black Widow crossover.
This title has been up and down for me. I didn’t have a huge connection to either character beyond seeing them in the last couple years of Avengers titles, but I have enjoyed the interplay between them. However, I have found it a bit tough that the first story arc for the title was so heavily dependent on something that happened to Mockingbird in a previous story. To me, it occasionally made it hard to follow, and the Phantom Rider stuff was kind of boring to me. I couldn’t get interested in the odd, evil ghost cowboy stuff, or in Crossfire as a villain either, so I’m glad that this arc is over. I do like the Bobby/Clint stuff a lot, so I will keep reading to see where their break-up is going to go in a book that has them tied together in the title itself.
The first arc of this book ends with a bang that has some actual consequences in the greater Marvel universe. I absolutely love the way Jim McCann writes this couple, even the sure-to-anger final page cliffhanger, but the stars of the book are the art team of David Lopez, inker Marco Lopez and colorist Nathan Fairbairn, who makes all the purple in this book look cool and not garish. If you like the title characters as much as I do –- or McCann does –- then you need to be reading this.
I was looking forward to this comic, spinning out of Jim McCann’s fun New Avengers: Reunion mini-series. But this series has gotten itself bogged down in the title characters’ on-going relationship issues with each other and it’s about as fun as couple’s therapy. For a book that is essentially an exercise in nostalgia, it’s making me doubt what I was thinking liking these characters in the first place. I’ll stick around for the next issue, but I think I’m done here.