The de facto continuation of “Hawkeye and Mockingbird” continues as Clint investigates the death of Trickshot, his former mentor, while simultaneously dealing with his gradually worsening blindness -- but only if he can get past Captain America first!
Although this series is, in effect, continuing the now-cancelled ongoing in which Mockingbird co-starred, she doesn’t actually feature in this series. I say this because her absence is keenly felt, as Hawkeye spends most of the issue deep in thoughts so self-indulgent it’d make a Livejournaller roll their eyes. Stripped of a comic foil, Hawkeye’s personality loses the irreverent edge that made the previous series such great fun. Worse still, there’s nobody around to call him out when he’s being petty and pig-headed.
Or, rather, there is, but not anyone he’ll actually listen to. Once again, Hawkeye finds an excuse to have a spar with Captain America. It’s a scene that occurs so frequently that it actually happens twice in this book: once in the present, and once in flashback. I get that it’s a classic matchup, but in a series that seems to be entirely about reinventing the character’s past so he can move forwards, it’d be nice to see something new added to the Cap/Hawkeye relationship rather than watch them perform the same tired dance.
To McCann’s credit, there’s a lot about this issue to like, not least the nicely-executed twist ending. Having seeded the issue with flashbacks, it’s a surprise at the conclusion when one turns out to have far more relevance than we initially thought. As an ending, it almost rivals the shock conclusion of issue #1.
Which brings me to my next point: where is Baron Zemo in all this? His appearance at the conclusion of the series’ opener had me primed for the continuation, not least because -- as a “Thunderbolts” fan going back years -- I can see the potential for Hawkeye and Zemo’s relationship to be very interesting. Yet he doesn’t get so much as a mention. It’s hard to tell whether it’s a poorly-executed “come back next issue!” tease, or a complete failure of technique. He’s even on the cover, for pity’s sake!
Art-wise, the book is all over the place. Diaz’s action is, on occasion, nicely choreographed, but whenever characters are asked to stand still, they’re stiff and unnatural. By comparison, Dragotta and Simpson’s art for the flashback sequences offers charming and character-infused genuine 60s imitation, which only makes the present-day artwork look inadequate by comparison.
It’s a shame that a book as good as “Hawkeye and Mockingbird” has given way to a weak miniseries such as this, particularly when McCann is the writer of both. I’d normally call McCann one of Marvel’s most promising rising stars, so it’s unclear what’s gone wrong here. Hopefully, it’s just a blip. It should be noted, though, that when “average” is the worst you’ve done, you’re still way in front of the curve. Ultimately, it seems unlikely that “Hawkeye: Blindspot” will do anything to change anyone’s mind that “Hawkeye & Mockingbird”’s cancellation was a mistake, even though it’s not particularly poor in its own right. It’s certainly a shame, but unfortunately, not one we can do much about at this point. Let’s just hope McCann has a decent conclusion in mind.