It goes without saying, but the current run of ALL-NEW HAWKEYE has some big shoes to fill. Matt Fraction and David Aja’s HAWKEYE was nothing short of ground-breaking, and their take on the character made for one of my favorite series of all time. Fortunately, the book is now in the very capable hands of Jeff Lemire and Ramón Pérez. The pair’s run has focused on Kate Bishop and Clint Barton’s relationship while providing an insightful look into Bishop’s past. ALL-NEW HAWKEYE #5 continues these themes.

READ: How does Fraction and Aja’s run on HAWKEYE stack up against Lemire and Pérez’s? Find out here!

Bishop’s flashbacks show her wealthy upbringing in a big, empty mansion living with a negligent father (cue Cat’s Cradle). She yearns for his approval and does her best to win it with ballet lessons, but he always finds himself otherwise occupied with his business. Kate begins to ask questions when she hears her father beating information out of a man, and she tries to find out more information about these mysterious dealings. As we see these flashbacks develop, present-day Barton continues his mission to rescue the Project Communion Kids from both Hydra and S.H.I.E.L.D., with both organizations looking to experiment on the mutant orphans. We’ve seen these themes play out in previous issues, but this is the first time the book really delves into the consequences of their results, and I loved it because it shows how these characters are more human than they are super.All-New Hawkeye (2015-) 005-004

Plot-wise, this issue faces many challenges but deals with them effortlessly. The obstacle when elaborating on two characters at the same time is spending too much time developing one and not the other. This issue has no trouble maintaining the delicate balance of Bishop and Barton. More impressively, it does so while handling the different timelines of the story. Their relationship is the heart of this book, and I’m happy to see the characters explored as individuals after seeing them work so much as a team.

One can’t help but think of Fraction and Aja’s take on the character when reading this run, but ALL-NEW HAWKEYE still manages to hold its own. They seem to be experimenting more with comic book storytelling in ways Fraction and Aja didn’t with their use of watercolors and onomatopoetic elements. This is a very promising thing to see, and I can’t wait to see what they’re going to do next.

The experimenting with comics as a storytelling form occurs in the art as well. This issue’s art is spectacular. Pérez’s penciling comes together with Ian Herring’s colors in a way that really moves the story along. Color is something that tends to get taken for granted in comics, but Herring uses it as a way to show us that we’re in Bishop’s flashbacks. They’re drawn in beautiful watercolors that give the scene a dreamlike appearance. The faded and sometimes monochromatic scenery feels like a memory rather than an event unfolding in the present. This is contrasted with the sharpness with which Bishop’s facial expressions are drawn when attempting to interact with her father. The contrast between the two serves as a reminder that although these memories are in the distant past, their impact is still felt.

LISTEN: We cover HAWKEYE in our Street Justice Podcast!

These flashbacks are my favorite part of this issue. They’re very telling of Bishop’s character in terms of her upbringing, which is something we haven’t heard a lot about. However, that’s not to say that the present-day storyline doesn’t have its artistic merits. Showing the Communion Project Kids inside the onomatopoeic writing reminds the reader what’s at stake here, and the shocked expressions on Barton’s and the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents’ faces truly convey their horror. I’ve never seen onomatopoeic writing feature characters this way. It was something unique, and now stands out to me as a new way to use one of the core elements of comic book storytelling.

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In terms of characterization, I still love Hawkeye. Both of them. Why? Because they’re human. Of course, they can shoot a bow better than anyone on the planet, but they’re also people dealing with issues a lot of people can relate to. Not everyone has a quiver full of trick arrows they use to fight crime, but plenty of people have dealt with negligence or the consequences of a rashly made decision like Barton in the above image. That’s what makes this such a good comic. It’s fun to see fantastical situations, but the reason we keep reading is because we see some of ourselves in these characters too.

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