“Can we go back to fighting scientists in Spanish castles? Or even Kang? I’ll take on Kang again.”
So says Hawkeye, and so say I. For five issues now, he and Mockingbird have been tangling with Crossfire and the Phantom Rider. And while I’ve had plenty of good things to say about this storyline so far, Ghosts has gone on too long. A battle with Kang? Yessiree, one of the Avengers’ greatest villains, that’s worth half a year’s worth of books, but a bog standard marksman and a possessed museum curator? Not so much.
You might say that the length of the story has allowed room for us to see the extent of Mockingbird’s espionage operation, and to follow her changing relationship with ex-husband Hawkeye. It’s provided space for a bit of background on Mockingbird’s family, and a chance for Hawkeye’s Avengers pals to appear.
Yes it has, but all of these bits of business could have been woven into stories featuring other main conflicts: Crossfire and the Phantom Rider just aren’t interesting, or formidable, enough to focus on for five months.
This issue, finally, there’s some closure to their challenge to Hawkeye and Mockingbird. The story seems to end on a sad note, as Hawkeye splits from Mockingbird’s spy group, the World Counterterrorism Agency and, more interestingly, Mockingbird herself.
It makes perfect sense, given the characters and situations writer Jim McCann has artfully laid down – Mockingbird, aka Bobbi Morse, has a good heart, but a tendency to be a hard-faced bitch when it comes to tackling a situation; Hawkeye, Clint Barton, doesn’t like the way he’s becoming more brutal, the longer he spends in her world.
To be true to his characters, McCann had to write this scene. Almost certainly, we’ll see the pair reach a compromise over time, as they really do love each other, and watching it will be fun. I’m ready for that, give me a new story and set the ball rolling.
But remember that phrase, ‘seems to end’? Ghosts ain’t over … the lettercol tells us that next month we’ll flash back to a few hours before the end of this issue, to see how Clint and Bobbi came to their decision.
Just don’t. I like soap more than most, but I don’t need an issue of angsty conversations. I get it, the ending was the best part of this issue. Now let’s move on please.
The main part of this book was more fighting between the heroes and villains, with the addition of another Phantom Rider, this one on the side of the angels and afflicted with verbal diarrhoea. There are lots of little dramatic moments, reversals and triumphs, but not enough of the sparky characterisation I’ve come to expect from this book.
Artwise, penciller David and inker Alvaro Lopez continue to do a nice job – it’s not flashy, but they maintain a good standard and have managed five issues in a row, something of a miracle in these times. I said once that I thought they had a tendency to undersell the big scenes, but here they do a fine job of giving us two of Hawkeye’s least finest moments.
The cover illustration by Paul Renaud has a pleasing intensity to it, but in terms of production, I’m for a bit of variety in the area of logo colours – it’s been the same purple and lavender combo since issue 1.
All in all, Hawkeye & Mockingbird has worn out its welcome just a wee bit. I’m interested in the characters, I’m intrigued by the set-up, the creative team is good, but if a story is going to be more than two or three issues long, there really needs to be more challenges. I realise that for Clint and Bobbi, the adventure has lasted just two days, but to quote the archer once more: ‘Longest. Two. Nights. Ever.”