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Ultimate Comics Hawkeye #1

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Ultimate Comics Hawkeye #1

Credits

  • Words: Jonathan Hickman
  • Art: Rafa Sandoval
  • Inks: Jordi Tarragona
  • Colors: Brad Anderson
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Aug 31, 2011

A new turning point in the retooled Ultimate Universe starts here! And you thought the death of Peter Parker was huge…

I’ve never been under the impression that Ultimate Hawkeye was anything like the Clint Barton of the mainstream Marvel Universe but Jonathan Hickman’s new miniseries featuring the Avenging Archer clearly underscores the great divide between the two characters. Hickman’s take on Barton not only elevates his status in the Ultimate Universe but redefines it, ranking him in importance below only SHIELD Director General Nick Fury. Not even Captain America has as much stroke as Barton.

The solicitations for Ultimate Hawkeye #1 describe the miniseries as the catalyst for what will become the new status quo in the Ultimate Universe – that “this story will have wide ranging repercussions for the entire line” spiel we’ve all heard before.

That was before.

One of the newly christened Marvel Architects, Hickman hatches a plot that does indeed have startling implications for the entire Ultimate Universe. Much more than the death of a single hero (no matter how important or influential), the act of terror that spurs Hawkeye into action is global in scope, affecting every living being on the planet and it plunges the nations of the world into a dangerous new arms race unlike any that has come before. Hickman has gone on record saying that one of the main goals of this series is to expose some fairly huge weaknesses in the Ultimate version of SHIELD. If his intention is to knock Fury and company down a peg, then he’s off to a brilliant start, placing the good guys so far behind the bad guys, one has to wonder if the guys in the white hats will ever catch up. Indeed, in many ways, simply due to the nature of the terrorist act perpetrated by the bad guys, SHIELD has already lost.

Despite a billing as a starting point for Marvel’s new vision of its Ultimate Universe, Hickman and collaborator Rafa Sandoval do a remarkable job keeping the exposition down to a minimum and the pace ratcheted up to a breakneck speed in this book. In fact, things may move a little too fast and loose, as the nonchalance with which this horrible act comes to light robs it of the emotional weight it deserves. The solicitations weren’t lying – what happens in Ultimate Hawkeye #1 will affect every other book in the line in a huge way. It was a little disarming, not to mention disappointing to witness such off-the-cuff delivery. For Nick Fury and the rest of SHIELD, this is just another move on the board. The only sense of urgency comes from the fact that they are losing.

An important catalyst book promising widespread change and an ever more chaotic future for the Ultimate Universe line, Ultimate Hawkeye #1 may shine the spotlight on Clint Barton like never before but falls a little short on the delivery of major plot points. Even still, it's a fun read for those who like their superheroes grim and gritty.

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