Did I read the end of last issue incorrectly? I swear there was a strong indication this month’s comic would flash back to Clint and Bobbi’s break-up conversation in the desert.
Well, it doesn’t, instead giving us the strongest issue of the book since the first couple. It’s a collection of scenes moving the characters forward, as they deal with their choices in the opening arc: Hawkeye struggles with having carried out a vicious revenge on Crossfire; Bobbi’s brother Ben quite reasonably tells her that if she won’t give up the costumed life, she should keep the heck away rather than endanger their family. There’s a strong Savage Land scene that acts as a prelude to Dominic Fortune revealing his secrets, and one of the best Captain America – well, Steve Rogers – inspirational speeches in a long while. By issue’s end, the groundwork is laid for the Widowmaker mini-series which takes up where this apparently cancelled book leaves off.
Where Clint snaps out of his funk and remains likable, Bobbi remains as … complicated as ever. Why anyone would want this damaged/hard-faced woman as friend, lover or colleague, I have no idea, and hats off to writer Jim McCann for not softening her.
The best scene in the book has the newly imprisoned Crossfire suggesting to an unseen, silent Clint that he’s not so far from psycho killer Bullseye. Artists David and Alvaro Lopez help sell the moment with intelligent layouts and moody finishing. Many pages use variations on the nine-panel grid, drawing the reader into the often understated drama.
Mind, I did wonder why one panel suggests Clint is staring at Jessica Drew’s tits – I think maybe it’s showing how he’s trying not to look at Jessica’s face, as he keeps seeing her as a Skrull, but he might have, you know, focused on a jar of pickles.
Paul Renaud provides another spiffy cover, happily ignoring the contents of the issue.
If this is indeed the final H&M for now – which is surprising, given how it was touted as a big hit when #1 appeared – I’ll be sorry. A consistent creative team gave us a deep look at two of Marvel’s most compelling characters, and while the initial tale went on too long – finally becoming the title’s only story – I was hoping for many more. Thanks for a pretty great ride, folks.