ALL-NEW HAWKEYE #5
Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Ramon Perez and Ian Herring
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: September 16, 2015
This issue, this entire series, has been powerful in a very visceral and heartbreaking way.
All-New Hawkeye #5 starts with Clint reminiscing, comparing himself to Tony and Steve, as his brother Barney delves deeper into criminality. He and Kate verbally spar about helping the kids versus giving them to S.H.I.E.L.D. As Clint decides to hand the kids over, he remembers the point when things changed for him, when he chose being a thief over being an archer. Kate minces no words telling Clint how she feels about his decision, leaving him with regret. Fast-forward to the future and Kate is at Clint’s door, telling him they made a mistake and it’s time to get the kids back home.
Jeff Lemire has made a very human Hawkeye. All-New Hawkeye in general has been stellar at giving us a background for why Clint operates as he does. The juxtaposition between the past and the present is amazing, offering a frame of reference for events as they unfold between Kate and Clint. There are so many complex emotions running through every interaction and panel. Lemire creates a very dynamic and moving story by connecting Clint’s life as a child and an adult and illuminating how these common threads affect him now.
There’s so much to be said for Ramon Perez and Ian Herring’s art. Part of what drives this issue and the entire arc is the somewhat dreamlike illustrations of the past and the distinct images of the current story. The watercolor effects of the art showing Clint’s past paint a dreamlike picture that in many ways reflects how our memory works. We remember very prominent details but much of the background seems to flow together, lost in a nondescript fog. The art used for the present is much more definite, the lines and colors distinct. Yet, each and every panel works together to show the kind of paradoxically clear but hazy memories connected to the more concrete visage of an unfolding story.
While this was the last part of the first arc for All-New Hawkeye, it seamlessly blends into a new story for the future. I was happy to see that we will be reading about the kids again, as they were amazing and complex elements to this first story. Thinking about older comics, this issue instantly reminded me of Chris Claremont’s run of Uncanny X-Men. The end of this issue immediately tells us where the story is going next, and Claremont weaved a story for our favorite mutants in a similar way for so many years. Lemire definitely gives me similar warm fuzzies and I’m excited to see what he does with the story moving forward because he was able to weave such an excellent tapestry, connecting Clint’s past with his present adventure with Kate.
Working with kids in the foster care system, this issue hit home hard. I watched children struggle with being placed in foster home after foster home, or not even seeing one on the horizon. While anyone’s first instinct may be to deride Barney and side with Clint, Barney has a very realistic and adaptive perspective of being placed back in the system. Sometimes living in a circus is more stable than the threat of being placed in an abusive foster home, kicked out of a foster home for having trouble adapting to change, or possibly not even having the option of one. This issue of All-New Hawkeye does a great job of showing the reality of so many children in America, that living with thieves and having a home can sometimes do more for them than struggling in the system.
Jeff Lemire also does a great job of referencing Clint’s disability and where it came from. Abuse is a very real threat for many children in foster care or the system in general. Dealing with a disability in that context can be difficult. When we have a relative lack of narratives in comics regarding disabilities, it is refreshing to have a prominent hero with one who manages his life while hearing-impaired. Lemire crafted a story that reminds us that disability shows up in many ways, from physical incapacitation and mental illness to sensory disabilities, like Clint’s, that affect everyday life.
I cannot recommend this series enough and I will most certainly be adding it to my therapy file. This issue was incredibly evocative and it could very healing for many people in processing issues related to childhood, especially for those who dealt with the foster care system. The emotional depth of this series always surprises me, and I am grateful for its exploration of Clint, Kate, the kids, but also being human and navigating our present through our memories.
The Verdict: 10/10