Clint and Kate are back for a family reunion in Hawkeye #13, the latest comic book debut in Marvel’s Legacy initiative, reviving retro concepts with newer ideas. That’s not all that came out in this crowded week! We’re also here to right a major wrong by covering the fantastic Salahdin Ahmed and Christian Ward Black Bolt title–The House of Ideas is busy this week!

Hawkeye #13

Written by Kelly Thompson
Illustrated by Leonardo Romero
Colored by Jordie Bellaire
Lettered by VC’s Joe Sabino
Reviewed by AJ Frost

Alexander Jones: AJ are you seeing double or are both Hawkeye’s (Clint Barton and Kate Bishop) under one roof! What did you think of the Legacy issue starring both of Marvel’s premiere archers?

AJ Frost: Indeed, I am seeing double! You know, Hawkeye is one of a property which can be hit or miss, though recently it has been strong and really fun to read. This week’s issue is no exception. Clint and Kate share a fun rapport, and even when the put each other through the emotional ringer, there’s a true sense of admiration jumping from the page–It’s great stuff.

Jones: Ever since the landmark Fraction and David Aja run on the title has always been interesting at the very least. Kelly Thompson and Leonardo Romero’s take on Kate Bishop may not reach the heights of the Fraction/Aja run, but the series is definitely a brisk, fun read packing lots personality. This installment of the book is no exception and also features the art of Leonardo Romero. There was something about the relationship between Clint and Kate that felt a little off to me and too cute here, but the general pleasant vibe was something I appreciated all the way through.

Frost: Nothing wrong with a little bit of cute and wink-wink towards the reader in these perilous times, though! Sure, there could be the tiniest piece of cheese allowed through in the dialogue, but it didn’t really affect my overall enjoyment of the issue. Indeed, I found myself rather taken in by the dialogue during the quieter moments of the issue and thought there was a nice balance between pages of calm and pages of action.

Jones: I say this during every Marvel column and I’m curious as to what you have to say about it but one of the aspects of Marvel’s publishing line has really started to bother over the past couple of months is how every installment of every comic seems to be more focused on silly things and one-off arcs and one-shots. This story has a very loose ongoing story but I’m not sure what exactly is propelling the narrative forward. The last scenes in the book were particularly troubling for me with the plot using Secret Empire and trying to somehow tie it in with the current arc.

Frost: I wonder if what you are feeling is just now part of the Marvel house style? As you say, the stories being produced aren’t exactly bad, but they are not being serious either. Is that the vibe I’m gathering from you?

Jones: Absolutely. However, with art like this, I can’t stay mad or complain about any of the material from the publisher too much. It has been great to see Thompson and Romero so consistently retain their same level of involvement with this comic with Romero only missing a few issues here and there and still remaining the incredibly high standard of art. The artistic talent on display here makes sure to draw a clear and consistent portrayal of each character in the story and throw some interesting fight scenes, layouts and spreads in the book – that’s definitely one aspect of the comic worth celebrating. Were you as taken with the art team here as I?

Frost: Yeah, I enjoyed it quite a bit. The team is definitely merging the best of Bronze Age layouts with contemporary sensibilities. For me, this was best displayed in the opening panel sequence. Really vibrant lines and great sensations of motion. It’s funny–I was doing some research for an upcoming piece about a Marvel book coming out soon, and the artist had a picture on his Instagram feed of some motion lines which must’ve taken many hours to pull off. As a reader, I sometimes don’t take into account the many hours of labor it takes to create one panel, let alone entire sequences filled with background details. So, yes, many kudos to the art team! Talent, determination, and sacrifice.

Jones: Think about the crunch baked into the schedule of releasing serialized monthly books as well. All the members of the team have been crushing deadlines and still managing to tell a consistent and vibrant work in the space of comics. Switching gears here, I wanted to point out that the villain at the end and strange pace of the book made the story feel incohesive for me. Clint and Kate seem to distrust each other and over the years & I worry the only reason why they have a contentious relationship is to add tension to the plot. This is something that’s been on my mind for some time now. What are your thoughts?

Frost: I’m probably more agnostic on this subject than you are. Like, for me, it doesn’t matter as much for specific characters motivations from issue to issue unless there is a long arc going on. But the constituent pieces of this book you bring up–Kate and Clint’s distrust, the villain at the end–don’t raise any red flags for me precisely because I’m looking at this issue through the sensibility it is designed to be only one piece of a larger tale. Added tension, even for plot convenience, is fine if its fun to read. Maybe you disagree? Maybe I’m looking at this whole enterprise more from an awareness being the issue supposed to read like a piece of narrative ephemera anyway? Or maybe I’m way off the mark. What do you think?

Jones: Honestly I’m not sure what to make of it and acknowledge my own bias which is exactly why I was interested in having this conversation with you. Whether you are a huge fan of the character or not, as long as you go in with some movie knowledge and understanding Kate is a younger Hawkeye not related to Clint I think this is a great comic to hook new readers on. This is something I wouldn’t have a problem giving to open-minded comics readers. This installment certainly captured the tone it was trying to achieve and I would give it a BORROW. What say you?

Frost: It’s interesting you say that. The Marvel Universe is so vast and it can be difficult to find an access point. I’m going to give this one a BUY, just because of a really fun issue with lots of great action and dialogue.

Jones: Who is the better Hawkeye?

Frost: I’ll let readers decide.

Verdict: Alex says: BORROW, AJ says: BUY.

Black Bolt  #8

Written by Saladin Ahmed
Illustrated by Christian Ward
Lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles
Reviewed by Alexander Jones

This cover should feature my head on the chopping block because I committed a great sin in not giving this series the attention it deserved after Black Bolt achieved a consistent level of greatness spanning each month the title hit store shelves. However, the debut arc was carefully crafted around the prison sequence and when that arc drew to close, I started to ask myself what position this ongoing would be in going forward but Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward have again done the impossible and hooked me in with the new arc of the series reestablishing the status quo of the book going forward and introducing so many brand new aspects of the title in the span of one issue of the series. Of course, this entire package is wrapped up in visual maestro’s Christian Ward’s psychedelic pencils add a level of oddity and serenity making this comic feel strong and impactful every step of the way. Even venturing on his home turf, Black Bolt carries potent emotional stakes.

Transitioning this series outside the emotional high-stakes prison was always going to be a bear but Ahmed and Ward’s love of the Inhumans really comes through here. The old Inhumans characters are mixed with the newer ones and start to show greater visual potential previous artists have failed to capture the set of characters. It is exciting to see the Inhumans pushing forward with some new continuity over the past few years. Lots of creators seemed like they had problems putting characters such as Black Bolt and Frank McGee on the same page, but Ahmed and Ward revel in it. Even the greater history of an ignored character of Ahura is given their due here alongside the main cast of the book built over the past couple of issues which is directly referenced towards the end of this comic.

If you have never set foot in the world of Black Bolt, it would be hard to recommend this issue alone, yet the title reads so well in the collected form and the emotional impact of this chapter will definitely be more impactful upon checking into every installment in a sequential order. I thought the ongoing was going to be more serialized, as this chapter breaks from the structure the narrative was weaving so far. Over the next couple installments, I do hope to have a better understanding of what is coming next so it is easier to become more emotionally invested in the plot.

Ward’s fully realized insane locales paired with his great facial expressions and composition of the page continues to put me in awe of what this book has achieved with characters so few creators can get right. Black Bolt is so complex and beautiful but every month when I read it, it seems so effortless. Don’t make the same mistake I did and miss out on one of the best comics currently published at Marvel!

Verdict: BUY.

Next week we are getting ready for the Phoenix in Jean Grey #10!