Marvel has decided to give Hawkeye another shot at a solo title. Matthew Rosenberg has been tabbed as the writer for this new Hawkeye title. I have never been particularly impressed with Rosenberg’s writing for Marvel up to this point. However, maybe Hawkeye will be a better fit for Rosenberg. I do hope that Rosenberg brings something new and different to Hawkeye’s character. Hawkeye is definitely a character that could use a jumpstart so he can evolve past simply being a punchline. Let’s hope for the best and hit this review for Hawkeye #1.
Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Art: Otto Schmidt
Story Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We start with Hawkeye going “undercover” at a meeting in a sketchy warehouse district. A bunch of thugs are there to meet with their potential employer: The Hood. The Hood acts like a dope by asking his bodyguard to “Lo Mein me.” The bodyguard hands the Hood a box of Lo Mein and the Hood proceeds to eat the food during the meeting. The Hood recognizes Hawkeye. Clint punches the Hood. During this entire scene, Clint narrates about how the Hood is a total loser and stupid. Hawkeye takes out all of the goons at the meeting while the Hood makes his getaway in his van. Hawkeye then takes out the van’s tires. Suddenly, the police have arrived on the scene and the Hood is arrested.
We cut to court where Clint is watching the Judge arraigning one of the goons at the meeting. The judge sets bail at $50,000. The goon says that if he had $50,000 then he would never have taken that gig with the Hood. (Uhhhhhh…not having $50,000 is absolutely not a valid defense when engaging in organized crime.) The goon says that he has two kids at home. (Then…maybe don’t engage in organized crime? I don’t know. I am just spitballing here.) The bailiff then drags the goon out of the court. Clint asks the Bailiff if he missed the Hood’s arraignment. The bailiff says that the Hood was released with an apology from the Mayor’s office and that it is all about who you know. (This…makes no sense. But, okay. I’ll go along on this stupid train for the sake of the story.)
Clint steps out of the courthouse. Clint sees the Hood getting into a limo. The Hood then invites Clint to get into the limo. Clint says that it is messed up that the goons just had their lives ruined while the Hood drives away. (Huhbutwhat?! Whether the Hood gets away with beating his charges has nothing at all to do with another criminal defendant’s guilt or innocence concerning their criminal charges. These things are mutually exclusive. Is Clint saying that getting a bunch of criminals engaged in organized crime arrested and jailed is pointless and actually a negative if the boss of the organized crime group gets set free? I am not following this logic. Further, the goons “ruined” their own lives by deciding to engage in organized crime. Also, Clint arrested the Hood’s goons! If Clint did not want the Hood’s goons’ lives to be “ruined” then Clint should have never had them arrested. This is a mess.)
Hood points out that Clint is the one who had those goons arrested. Clint grabs a champagne bottle and goes to attack the Hood when the Hood transforms into his demonic form. Clint settles down and puts the bottle back down. (Yup. It is always a good approach to make the titular hero look like a spineless wuss.) The Hood says this is where the part ways. Clint gets out of the limo. Clint says that he is going to be watching the Hood.
We cut to two hours later with Clint at home with the Night Nurse. They start to get romantic but it gets ruined by Clint refusing to stop talking about the Hood instead of getting busy with the sex.
We hop over to the next night. We see Ronin attacking some federal agents. One of the agents says that Ronin can take the briefcase as long as Ronin does not kill him. We shit to the next morning with Hawkeye eating breakfast at an outdoor bistro. A bird poops on Hawkeye and his omelet. Bucky and Falcon then arrive on the scene. Falcon admits that it was his bird who pooped on Clint and his food. Clint wants Flacon to buy him a new omelet. Falcon looks at the menu and is shocked at the expensive price for the omelets. (I am so thrilled we have spent so many panels on this riveting subject matter.)
Bucky and Falcon ask Clint where he was last night. They then show Clint photos of Ronin attacking the federal agents. Clint is pissed at the accusations. Clint says that there were three other people who wore the Ronin outfit. Bucky says that Shostakov is out of the country. Bucky says that the person in the Ronin costume does not look like a woman so that rules out Echo. Clint says that it was not him.
We zip forward to that night with Hawkeye, Bucky, and Falcon on a stakeout of The Hood’s men. We then see Ronin arrive on the scene and attack Hood’s men. Hawkeye, Bucky, and Falcon spring to action and beginning fighting Ronin. Ronin easily takes down Hawkeye, Bucky, and Falcon. Ronin then leaves the scene. Hawkeye then tells Bucky that he told Bucky that he wasn’t Ronin. End of issue.
The Good: Hawkeye: Freefall #1 certainly delivers plenty of action. To be sure, this is definitely not a boring issue. Rosenburg makes sure that the reader gets enough fighting to keep this a lively read. Rosenburg also keeps his foot on the pedal and moves the story forward at a quick pace. The plotting is also solid. Rosenburg wastes no time quickly introducing Hawkeye and his supporting cast in Night Nurse, Bucky, and Falcon. Rosenburg also quickly installs the main villain for the opening story arc in the form of The Hood. Rosenburg installs several plotlines in this debut issue. We get the main plotline involving the Hood. Then we get a secondary plotline involving the mysterious person wearing the Ronin costume. All in all, Rosenburg checks all of the boxes on the checklist of necessary ingredients of a debut issue of a new title.
Otto Schmidt delivered dependable artwork. I was not particularly blown away with the art. Schmidt’s panels lack detail and the art looks a bit rushed at times. But, for the most part, Schmidt’s art gets the job done and never gets in the way of the story.
The Bad: The problem with Hawkeye: Freefall #1 is that it is a dumb story. Rosenberg’s attempt at humor often falls flat or is incongruent with the scene. Much of the humor feels far too forced to the point that it seems Rosenberg is more in love with his own “witty” dialogue than he is with the story itself. Everything and every moment is presented as a joke and played for a laugh. All of the characters are reduced to punchlines. It is impossible to ask the reader to take the story or any of the characters seriously when the author does not take anything seriously. The character work is generic. All of the characters get the same “witty” personality. The dialogue for all of the characters sounds too similar.
Rosenberg’s Hawkeye seems like a cheap version of Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye. Now, I do appreciate writers sticking to the core personality traits of an established character. But, Hawkeye has not always been the loser who is played for laughs like what Fraction presented to the reader during his run on Hawkeye. There has been plenty of stories with a more serious Hawkeye. I would have preferred to see Rosenberg write Hawkeye in a more serious style. But, if Rosenberg wanted to build off of Fraction’s Hawkeye then I would have hoped that Rosenberg would give us something more creative than merely aping Fraction’s Hawkeye.
Rosenberg’s story is flat and shallow. There is little substance to this issue. There is simply nothing that is interesting or engaging that makes Hawkeye: Freefall #1 different or compelling. The entire story feels nothing more as an excuse for Rosenberg to entertain himself with his humor. The story presents nothing that engages the reader’s mind and pulls them deeper into the story. Rosenberg never convinces there reader that he has anything special planned for this new title. Rosenberg never successfully distinguishes this title from the myriad of other superhero titles already on the market.
There is a lack of internal logic as Rosenberg makes so many of the characters seem stupid to the point that it pulls the reader out of the story. Hawkeye’s nonsensical reaction to the goon’s arraignment is an example of this. I know what Rosenberg was trying to do with this scene. Rosenberg was making a facile attempt to criticize the Justice system as one that favors the rich and punishes the poor. Unfortunately, Rosenberg completely makes a hash of that attempt at criticism. There is a huge difference between a violent criminal who engages in organized crime because he does not have money and a criminal who engages in petty theft to steal food in order to feed his family. Moreover, Hawkeye’s reaction makes no sense in that he wanted to arrest the goon in the first place. Obviously, Hawkeye felt that the goon had committed a crime and deserved to go to jail. It was all a complete and total mess.
Rosenberg also employs terrible psychology in the scenes between Hawkeye and the Hood. Rosenberg immediately introduces the Hood to the reader via Hawkeye making sure that the reader clearly knows that the Hood is lame. I have no idea why Rosenberg would go out of his way to immediately bury the Hood right out of the gate in this issue. By telling the reader that the Hood is a joke and then having the Hood spit out lame dialogue like “Lo mein, me.” and then proceed to eat Chinese food during the meeting kills Hood’s character from the start.
In pro wrestling, it is vital that the heel is presented as being very strong. This way the audience takes the heel seriously. It also means that when the babyface eventually beats the heel it feels like the babyface did something impressive and accomplished a tough victory. The same logic applies to superhero comic books. If the villain is immediately presented as lame and a joke then the audience does not take the villain seriously. Therefore, when the hero eventually defeats the villain it does not feel like that big of an accomplishment. Also, when the villain is presented as a joke, the reader never worries that the hero may not actually succeed. And if Rosenberg suddenly reverses course and presents the villain as something truly serious then it only serves to make the hero look like an idiot for not initially taking the villain seriously. Making the hero look stupid only serves to kill the reader’s interest in the hero and the story.
This bad psychology is continued in the scene with the Hood and Hawkeye in the limousine. Rosenberg has Hawkeye pick up a champagne bottle and get ready to attack the Hood. However, Rosenberg has the Hood turn demonic which causes Hawkeye to immediately back down and put down the champagne bottle. Again, in pro wrestling, if a babyface goes to attack a heel you cannot then have the babyface quickly cower and backdown if the heel pulls out a chair, kendo stick, or some other type of weapon. Instead, the babyface is booked to go ahead and attack the heel anyway despite the heel brandishing the weapon. The reason is that the babyface is strong and courageous and believes he can win without a weapon. On the other hand, the heel looks like a weak coward who can only fight the babyface if the heel has a weapon.
The same applies to superhero comics. If Rosenberg decides that Hawkeye is going to attack the Hood then Rosenberg has to have Hawkeye go through with that attack even once the Hood turns demonic. Now, Hawkeye’s attack can be futile and then Rosenberg can have the Hood say that Hawkeye is not worth his effort and then have the Hood kick Hawkeye out of his limo. That way Hawkeye does not get physically beaten but still went through with his attack in the face of the Hood turning demonic. It makes Hawkeye look tough and confident. Or, Rosenberg could have had Hawkeye go through with his attack and have the demonic Hood beat Hawkeye and then kick him out of the limo. This would then establish our hero as the underdog. Then Rosenberg can set up a later fight between the Hood and Hawkeye where Hawkeye can win as the underdog. Having Hawkeye win in this fashion would make him look like he really accomplished something big in defeating the Hood.
Overall: Hawkeye: Freefall #1 is a flawed read. There are far too many defects in this issue that prevent this issue from being worth the cover price. I would only recommend Hawkeye: Freefall #1 to fans who loved Fraction’s Hawkeye. For everyone else? There are way too many other superhero titles on the market that are far and away more worthy of your entertainment dollars.
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