Kate Bishop AKA Hawkeye (not that Hawkeye) had to learn the hard way what it means to be a part of a family.

“Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs. The ones you accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile, and who love you no matter what.”

As a girl from a wealthy Manhattanite family, you’d think that Kate would have it all. However, Kate never connected with her family or their opulent lifestyle. Kate’s true convictions lie in helping people, which puts her at odds with her family, who are happy to revel in their riches. After abandoning her family to join the Young Avengers, Kate has been searching for a new family to call her own. This quest has taken much time and forced her to travel from coast to coast, but now it looks like, with the dawn of Kelly Thompson’s WEST COAST AVENGERS, Kate may have found her new family.

Kate’s Blood Family

While she is often light-hearted and sassy, Kate Bishop hides underneath trauma and pain. As a child, Kate was always extremely lonely and felt isolated from her family. Kate’s father, Derek, was a successful publishing magnate. Kate adored her father but often couldn’t grab the attention of the emotionally distant CEO. Derek shipped Kate off to boarding school despite Kate’s desires to stay home.

HAWKEYE #1 Review: Anchor Point

Kate’s mother, Eleanor, was estranged from Derek and was usually absent from her children’s lives. Kate loved her mother as she was the only person who showed Kate any affection growing up. Eleanor also seemed to be the only person in the family that cared about giving back to society. She would often volunteer at both soup kitchens and women’s shelters. Eleanor had the deepest influence on Kate’s identity. After a trip in Boulder, Colorado, Eleanor disappeared (more on her later).

Finally, Kate has her older sister, Susan. Kate has a mostly amiably relationship with Susan except the two couldn’t be more different. Susan doesn’t understand Kate’s rampant desire to help others. Whereas Kate often checks her privilege, Susan is fine ignoring the fact that her family’s wealth gives her an advantage in the world.

The fact that Kate couldn’t relate to any of her family members necessitated that she depend upon herself. She became very headstrong, stubborn, and independent — ironically the traits that would make her the perfect hero.

Young Avengers

Kate Bishop
Kate Bishop in YOUNG AVENGERS. Courtesy of Marvel

As Kate grew older, she continued to feel a sense of loneliness and distance from her family. At some point before her sister’s wedding, Kate was sexually assaulted while walking in Central Park. The event heightened Kate’s feelings of isolation and powerlessness.

Nonetheless, the experience strengthened Kate’s resolve. She became proficient in sword fighting, martial arts, and (of course) archery. Most importantly, Kate met with a therapist to deal with some of her issues (something more superheroes need to do).

After Kang the Conqueror attacked her sister’s wedding, Kate joined the fledgling group known as the Young Avengers. She was the one person on the team who did not have a pre-established relationship with a famed former Avenger.  This added to the feeling that Kate did not have a place or home on the team.

Kate nonetheless proved her resourcefulness by taking on the weapons of different Avengers. It was Kate who stood up to Captain America when he refused to train the Young Avengers. Kate established her own lair and costumes for her team and became a co-leader of the Young Avengers alongside Patriot.

Eventually, Captain America came around on Kate. Once his feelings changed, Jessica Jones brought Kate Hawkeye’s original bow and arrows with a note from Cap saying “Hawkeye.” Jessica told her that the only other person to stand up to Captain America the way she did was Clint Barton. Cap asked Kate to take on Clint’s legacy and become Hawkeye.

Kate proved herself to the Avengers and Young Avengers, through her human resilience. As Kate stated in YOUNG AVENGERS:

“I have no powers and not nearly enough training, but I’m doing this anyways.”

Kate Bishop showed everyone she was a hero worthy of the Avengers.

Hawkeye Meets Hawkeye

When Kate Bishop took on the mantle of Hawkeye, the former Hawkeye, Clint Barton, was dead. However, as we know, no superhero stays dead. Clint Barton eventually came back to life, and he was confused as to why there was someone else running around with his pseudonym.

Clint, now as the superhero Ronin, challenged Kate to see whether she was worthy of the name of Hawkeye. Initially, Kate failed the test since she did not have the skills that Clint possessed in archery. However, upon reflection, Clint realized that the Avengers needed a sense of legacy and family to continue to thrive. He needed to pave the way for a new generation. So, he allowed Kate to take his bow and gave the archer his blessing.

Kate Bishop
Kate and Clint in Matt Fraction’s HAWKEYE. Courtesy of Marvel

This was the start of what some may call “a beautiful friendship.” In Clint, Kate found an older brother she could look up and aspire to. Clint was a man of the people, someone who actively cared about helping his community and she loved that about him. In Kate, Clint found a rock he could depend upon to keep him stable and call him on his shit. Both were crime fighting goof balls often known for making rash, impulsive decisions.

Clint recruited Kate to become his partner while fighting crime in Brooklyn. This was a low point in Clint’s life when the Avenger felt the weight of his previous failed relationships and marriage. Kate, the first woman Clint was forced to see as more than a sex object, provided a sense of clarity and strength to the damaged archer. Clint and Kate had become family.

A Detective Inspiration

Kate was never inspired by larger than life individuals like Captain America or Thor. She always aspired to those she could relate to like Clint. While Clint was a hero and an Olympic level archer, he was still extremely human. As a human, he was very emotionally fragile. That was what drew Kate to him.

Kate Bishop
Kate and Jessica Jones in HAWKEYE #5 by Kelly Thompson. Courtesy of Marvel

For these reasons, Kate was also drawn to Jessica Jones. Jessica was someone who experienced trauma yet managed to rise beyond it. Moreover, she was a woman who started her own business and became an ass-kicking superhero independent of any team. Jessica Jones became Kate’s idol. The young Avenger wanted nothing more than to become an awesome private detective like Jessica and she would often gush whenever meeting her hero.

Kate clearly connected with Jessica due to their shared experience of being victims of sexual abuse. Jessica became one of two people that Kate ever told about her sexual assault in Central Park. She still hesitates to tell Clint or her friends despite her closeness with them. It was Jessica who made Kate realize that she would have to start her own path if she wanted to become the hero she desired to be.

To Reach the Future, Confront The Past

Thompson’s HAWKEYE comic finds Kate coming to terms with much of her painful past. In this series, she travels to Los Angeles to establish herself as a P.I. in the vein of Jessica Jones. She creates Hawkeye Investigations and tries to become a hero of the West Coast.

Kate faces many hurdles along the way with establishing Hawkeye Investigation. Luckily she meets a group of friends willing to support her. In Los Angeles, Kate discovers that her father Derek has connections to supervillain Madame Masque and is perhaps a supervillain himself. This leads Kate to believe that it was her father who killed her mother. Kate feels rejected and betrayed at the discovery of her father’s villainy. It is at this moment that she more than ever longs for her mother’s guidance.

Read Kelly Thompson’s Incredible and Hilarious HAWKEYE series here!!

Just as Kate did for him, Clint supports Kate at her lowest moment. Clint comes to L.A. and joins Kate in her battles against Madame Masque.  Kate realizes that though she lost her family and her mother, she still has her friends. She still has Clint. She can finally move on knowing that she has found a family.

However, Kate’s feeling of resolution is cut short, at least for the audience, when we realize that it was Kate’s mom, Eleanor, who hired Madame Masque. Will the realization that not only her father but also her mother is a supervillain reignite Kate’s feelings of rejection? Or can Kate overcome it with the help of her new family?

Kate Bishop in WEST COAST AVENGERS

Kate Bishop now feels firmly established in Los Angeles as a crime-fighting hero. However, just because Kate has overcome some of her problems, doesn’t mean she is done dealing with the emotional baggage from her childhood. She still has a lot of work to do on the emotional front.

Kate Bishops Takes the Lead in WEST COAST AVENGERS #1

Luckily Kate Bishop will not be alone in this. With Clint by her side, the two Hawkeyes decide to reestablish the West Coast Avengers. They recruit America Chavez, Kid Omega, Gwenpool, and now Kate’s new boyfriend, Johnny, to serve in this new iteration of the team. This is the first time Kate feels at home and with people she can trust. They all believe in her but can Kate lead this new family to new heights? WEST COAST AVENGERS #1 suggests it will be hard but never discount the All-New Hawkeye, Kate Bishop.

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