Kelly Thompson (s), Leonardo Romero (p), Jordie Bellaire (c), VC’s Joe Sabino (l)
December 14, 2016
Kate: This is always my question when it comes to new ongoing series–where does this fit in continuity? What do I have to have read to understand what’s happening now? As far as I can tell, this basically just picks up after Kate’s arc in the Fraction/Aja run of Hawkeye that’s been collected as the trade L.A. Woman, where she becomes Jim Rockford. I know not everyone is going to get that reference, but The Rockford Files was one of my dad’s favorite TV shows, and so when I saw Kate acting as a P.I. in California and living in a trailer down by the beach, it was my first thought.
Melissa: I’m glad that this doesn’t seem to be connected to a whole lot of recent events in the Marvel Universe, because I know next to nothing about Marvel continuity. Hawkeye #1 was a great jumping-on point for me as a reader, because my only knowledge of Kate Bishop comes directly from the Fraction/Aja run and, while I loved that vision of Clint Barton, Kate was the one I wanted to know more about.
Kate: This feels a lot more like Veronica Mars, at least with this first arc, taking place on a college campus and dealing with harassment. Since I’m also a big Veronica Mars fan, I have zero problems with that, and I think that it helps in terms of being able to articulate how is this different from L.A. Woman. A P.I. helping a woman is a common trope, and it’s usually romantic or chivalric when that P.I. is a man. When the P.I. is a woman–and a woman who has been sexually assaulted herself–that makes it different. It’s women helping women. So in terms of the overall premise, I think the team did well here. It’s establishing Kate’s life in California and has that sort of Fraction/Aja Hawkeye premise of “This is what she does when she’s not being an Avenger,” which means that they’ll be able to ignore big company-wide events, I hope, and keep focused on Kate.
Melissa: I’m a sucker for a good noir-y detective story, which I think is what draws me to Kate. The fact that she’s, shall we say, not great at it makes her all the more endearing to me. I like the setup with the stalker situation, and I’m interested to see if it will end up being more of a big “comic book” thing than a relatively smaller personal story. I don’t know what to expect, which is kind of exciting.
Kate: Definitely. It seems to be making a concerted effort to be a standalone series, and I think that’s smart, not only for Kate-fans. One of the reasons that the Fraction/Aja run was so successful was its accessibility. You didn’t have to know anything that was going on in the rest of the Marvel Universe to follow it.
Melissa: That makes a huge difference for me as a reader, and it’s a great way of attracting readers to a great character without requiring tons and tons of knowledge. If you’re new to Kate Bishop or comics in general, Hawkeye #1 is a good place to start, though it may be hard to appreciate the character from just this one issue. We’ll see how it shapes up!
Melissa: I will tolerate a lot of weird costuming decisions in comics. Practicality is not my main concern. But I have one glaring question about Kate’s outfit. What the hell is going on with those side cutouts? They were smaller in Aja’s art, and I didn’t really notice them, though they were more egregiously placed. In this run, they’re larger and higher up, and there’s a belt over them. My first reaction was, “Good gracious, the chafing!” And worse, they don’t look cool, which is unfortunate because so much else about this comic feels fresh and fun. Coupled with the texture-less bodysuit, I’m seriously underwhelmed with the costume. Kate seems cool. I can’t imagine such a cool person wearing such a bland superhero outfit.
Kate: Yeah, we have to talk about that uniform and the fact that it hasn’t been updated since her Young Avengers days, except, this is a funny story that should not be forgotten. Back in July, Marvel was debuting new promotional materials, and they had Kate on one of the posters, wearing a different costume. She was, in fact, wearing a costume redesigned by an artist on Tumblr. The artist Marvel paid, Mike Deodato, claimed that he had just Googled and thought that was the “official” uniform, so um…okay.
I interviewed Vylla about fanart, Kate’s costume, and costume redesigns. The costume that Marvel took as Kate’s upgrade was actually intended to be a “badly overdesigned” costume. In Vylla’s words:
Kate was the exception seeing as she has money to spend and a flair for design. I wanted her to have a flashy, perhaps a little over-designed, and less functional outfit to depict the fact that this is a brand new hero who has not got her lumps yet. She’s just starting out, kind of starry eyed about the superhero thing, not necessarily thinking about self preservation or getting road rash on her stomach.
The idea would then be, kind of like how you see in the comics, her uniform changes as she grows up and becomes a more seasoned hero (If you pretend the hip cutouts don’t exist, which I think we should). Less frills more function. It’s just a way of showing character progression, via dumb fashion choices.
If we view the hip cutouts uniform as a version of this–the uniform she created when she was first starting out, and didn’t think about things like chafing–Kate’s badly in need of a new uniform. And preferably one that is functional but also stylish and distinctive. Kevin Wada made magic happen (pun intended) with Scarlet Witch’s redesign. I would love to see him make something for Kate.
But in terms of the art in general, there is some great graphic stuff happening here with Leonardo Romero’s art and Jordie Bellaire’s coloring that feels like a riff on what Aja did without feeling like it’s a riff on Aja. This is one of my favorite pages.
Melissa: As you mentioned above, maybe this is just the beginning. Give her a little texture, a little structure, and please, please, please take that belt off her bare hip bones. There is a lot of room to grow here, and with this team, I want to believe that those changes will come. Costume criticism aside, I wholeheartedly agree about Bellaire’s gorgeous coloring and Leonardo Romero’s clean lineart. I think the art works so well here, because those two elements complement each other very well—too sketchy and we’d lose the vibrancy of those colors, and if the colors were more dull the lineart wouldn’t stand out. There’s a lot of great contrast here, and I’m excited to see more of that as the series continues. Especially if that contrast works its way into a more modern, interesting costume.
Kate: I was pretty pleased with Thompson’s take on Kate. She feels like Kate, and she’s pretty shameless when it comes to doing whatever it takes to achieve her goals, even if that includes minor acts of theft and lying. It’s humorous, sure. But I am hoping that Thompson maybe brings more depth, and addresses the way that Kate comes from a super-privileged background. She learned archery at Interlochen!
Melissa: While we didn’t get to know anybody too deeply in this first issue, there’s a lot of personality here. We talked about art already, but I think a lot of it comes through in how these characters are drawn—each one feels like an individual, and, when they don’t, it’s usually for a purpose.
Kate: Also, with the new characters who are always essential when it comes to building a new ensemble–I love Ramone. I hope she becomes a regular. And the P.I. premise allows for new, diverse clients every month, and I appreciated we got a queer girl as our first client.
Melissa: Ramone was great, and I hope she becomes a regular as well. Kate needs somebody to challenge her, in my amateur opinion, and Ramone offers that in a way that’s not antagonistic. She’s a person with her own needs and wants, and sometimes those needs and wants are in Kate’s way—she can’t shoot her way out of it, so she has to try another approach. It’s those moments that challenge characters, and that’s what I want to see. Kate’s sassiness and occasional ineptitude are what make her interesting to me, and it seems like we’ll be getting more of that throughout the series. I like it when she succeeds, but I love it when she fails. I’m not a big superhero reader because I’m less interested in watching bad guys get punched and babies get saved, and more interested in how they get along when they’re not doing those things. It seems like this series is going to offer a bit of both, which is exactly what I’m hoping for from it.