The lead Hawkeye story from Jen Van Meter in this new five issue mini-series is less the wisecracking, feet-first-into-action Avenger and more of a fill-in for a mystery story that isn’t all that intriguing. Hawkeye happens to stumble into a dispute between a regular Joe and a tech-powered intimidator and winds up getting further involved in the regular Joe’s problems than seems reasonable or expected for Hawkeye. Throughout the story, Van Meter offers an almost apologetic confession from Hawkeye that he really isn’t sure why he’s doing what he’s doing here. There’s a lack of conviction from the lead character that translates directly to a lack of excitement in the story.
The basic premise winds up being that Hawkeye’s trying to find a girl that he has absolutely no connection to. Nothing in this issue makes this any more a Hawkeye story than it would be a Dominic Fortune tale or a skewed Howard the Duck story. Van Meter drops in a couple lower rung villains that really don’t do much to liven up the story. The story seems forced, which may be Van Meter simply finding the voice for Hawkeye and trying to set a stride for the series, but all the same it just doesn’t move well.
Roger Robinson’s art is equally stiff and robotic, relying way too much on photo-realism and sacrificing energy and pizzazz. There is no shortage of detail in Robinson’s work, and Fabio D’Auria throws down some wonderfully distracting patterns in the coloring, but visually, this issue lacks as much fire as the plot itself.
As a backup to this tale, “Avengers Solo” carries a backup story that features some characters from Avengers Academy. No one’s flying solo in that backup which just makes the story that much more of an odd choice for this issue. Written by Jim McCann with art by Clayton Henry, the story seems more like a misplaced installment from the “Avengers Academy” title than it does a story designed to be here. It’s a decent enough start to a story, but it is only barely a start. McCann has some fun with Hank Pym and seizes the opportunity to add to the relationship between Pym and Tigra while investigating a sliver of the past of the West Coast Avengers. Again in this story, though, there is no compelling element to draw me back.
This book is an oddity. It offers a whole lot of potential, but doesn’t deliver on much of that potential. The recently published “Hawkeye & Mockingbird” series had more of a “Solo Avengers” feel to it than this comic does. There’s no denying “Avengers” is the brand of choice at Marvel nowadays (I’m surprised Matt Fraction’s new book isn’t titled “Defending Avengers”) but this title does little to merit that connection.