I’m not sure if you heard but there’s an Avengers movie coming out. I announce that in case you were wondering why Hawkeye has gone through such a drastic change in the blink of an, well, you get it. The archer extraordinaire now sports a sleek, mostly black outfit. He also has no mask and a new attitude that’s bad even for him. The comic Hawkeye is now more aligned with the movie version. Cue Avenging Spider-Man #4, a simple one shot that seems motivated to give us deeper insight to the new Hawkeye.
Avenging Spider-Man is a team up book, period. What makes it stand out is the writing by Zeb Wells. The plot in issue #4 is simple. Hawkeye and Spider-Man, both being Avengers, have been ordered to patrol the city by Captain America. From page one, Hawkeye’s ego is unbearable. First, he disrupts a kid’s camp archery competition, then gives Spider-Man grief about having to patrol and even manages to step on one of old web head’s classic one-liners. There’s no rhyme or reason for the jerk sauce Hawkeye is pouring all around, but it is thick.
Mid-way through Avenging Spider-Man #4, the true talent of Zeb Wells kicks in. The first half of the book plays on the basic team up idea. Fights, bad guys in costumes, tracking the big boss to find out his master plan, the usual stuff. The underlying tension between Spider-Man and Hawkeye seems like an easy way to write snappy dialog. The issue never stops being entertaining but it seems to lack the punch of the first three. Wells lulls us into a false sense of security before serving up a nice emotional punch from Hawkeye. Some might quibble that this emotional revelation comes off as false this many years into his career but that’s splitting hairs. Zeb Wells nails the exchange and ratchets up the emotional level.
By adding that emotional element, the final half of Avenging Spider-Man #4 is a lot more powerful. The plot itself doesn’t change, the two heroes continue their patrol, but the final assault on their target is more about the kinds of men that Spider-Man and Hawkeye are. Wells gives a subtext that explores what makes really makes a superhero. The way he ties everything up at the end shows just how well Wells knows these characters. It also gives us a deeper insight to Hawkeye, which could create a more interesting character in the upcoming film.
Greg Land’s art is the only sore point for me. It just comes across as extremely lazy. The panel layouts are simplistic; the pencils just sit there with no movement or action at all. I also dislike how Land draws faces; they’re eerily devoid of life. On the positive side, I did like how his version of Spider-Man, it has a nice old school flavor to it. Despite the lackluster art Avenging Spider-Man is another solid notch in the belt of Zeb Wells and his talent.
CRAVE ONLINE RATING: 7/10 (5 Story, 2 Art)