Comic Picks By The Glick

Ultimate Comics Hawkeye

September 12, 2012

I don’t think the market was exactly clamoring for a mini-series featuring Ultimate Hawkeye.  Were I a betting man, I’d say that the whole reason we got this when we did is because Marvel wanted some Hawkeye product in the bookstores in time for the arrival of “The Avengers” movie.  Even though it comes to us courtesy of Jonathan Hickman and Rafa Sandoval it’s still pretty slight, though it will be of interest to anyone who has also read the writer’s “Ultimate Comics Ultimates.”

This is because the story here tells us what the title character was up to in the Southeast Asian Republic while the rest of the world was falling apart.  As we quickly find out, the chaos in the SEAR was due to rogue superhumans created by the government and conditioned for the utmost loyalty to the state.  Problem is, loyalty to the state only goes so far when you’ve got superpowers and better ideas about how things should be done around there.  These superhumans were created through the use of a catalyst called the Serum and now it’s Hawkeye’s job to get some of it to bring back to Nick Fury no matter what.

Hickman isn’t exactly phoning things in here, but the story is probably the simplest thing he’s written and completely free of any of the big ideas that he brings to his work.  However, the accompanying script at the back of the book makes it clear that he’s treating this as one big action movie, so be advised that’s what you’re getting.  Thanks to Sandoval’s detailed and kinetic art, the story works on that level.

Mostly, anyway.  Even though the tale does feature a few flashback scenes to show us how Hawkeye and Nick Fury came to work so well together, it doesn’t really tell us a whole lot about his character.  The man had a wife and family before they were ruthlessly killed in “The Ultimates 2” but they’re not even an afterthought here.  We’re also treated to a weirdly constructed climax where the main character doesn’t get to do much of anything and winds up succeeding anyway.  I’ll admit that seeing the status quo for the SEAR left unrestored at the end is an interesting route to take, but it doesn’t really make for an exciting finish.

Credit where credit is due, though, Hickman does wind up giving us what is probably the “most improved” Ultimate character in comparison to their Marvel Universe version in Xorn.  That’s right, this storyline gives us Ultimate Xorn.  <puts “New X-Men by Grant Morrison” fanboy hat on>  You see, Xorn was a Chinese mutant with a star for a head created by Grant Morrison during his run on the title.  The character had one really big secret which I won’t spoil here (Yes, I know this is a seven-year-old run at this point, but if you haven’t read it -- what are you waiting for!?) but it essentially rendered him a non-character.  Marvel didn’t quite see it that way and their attempts to deal with it made a hash out of the follow-up to Morrison’s run.  Long story short:  the character hasn’t been mentioned since Bendis’ garbled take on the whole mess in “New Avengers vol. 4:  The Collective” and we’re all the better for it. <takes “New X-Men by Grant Morrison” fanboy hat off>  Here, though, none of that matters and we’re given an interesting new status quo for the character(s).  It would’ve been nice if Hickman had defined their personalities and ideologies a bit better, but we’ll see if they even survive what’s coming in the main title.

“Ultimate Comics Side-Story” would be a better title for this comic since it does elaborate on certain things in “Ultimate Comics Ultimates” rather than develop Hawkeye beyond his “unstoppable badass” persona.  It’s also a bit pricey at $15 for four issues of content, but if you can find it on the cheap it’ll make for a decent supplement to a better comic.

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