Solo Avengers #6-9 (Hawkeye)
Issue(s): Solo Avengers #6, Solo Avengers #7, Solo Avengers #8, Solo Avengers #9 (Hawkeye stories only)
Not that Red Skull. The other one.
Silver Sable's interest isn't just the bounty on the Communist Red Skull's head or the fact that he's acquired a nuclear weapon. He's also captured a top operative of hers. And when Hawkeye and Le Peregrine make it to the Skull, he's talking to a container full of sand.
It's the Sandman!
Don't worry. No Misunderstanding Fight. Hawkeye is aware that the Sandman is a good guy nowadays, even if Silver Sable didn't mention who her missing operative was.
The Red Skull is no problem, but no one in this oddball match-up is a super-scientist, so when the bomb gets triggered, the Sandman has to destroy it instead of retrieving it per Silver Sable's instructions.
While Sandman worries that he's made Sable mad, Hawkeye wonders how he's going to get away from these guys.
This is the most play Le Peregrine has gotten so far. Usually he just gets to stand around to round out a group of international super-heroes. This issue has him actually fighting and holding his own with Hawkeye in terms of the banter. But he's gone by the beginning of next issue, which begins at the Orly airport in France with Hawkeye about to head home. Silver Sable and Sandman are also at the airport to see him off. But the airport proceedings are interrupted by the Bartovian Liberation Front, and Hawkeye doesn't have his weapons and Silver Sable is a mercenary for hire, not a hero.
But Hawkeye tells her that he has "a spare dollar for emergencies", so she agrees to contribute her and Sandman's help, and they attack right before the BLF executes its first hostage.
DeFalco has fun writing the Sandman (the character that he was responsible for reforming). As a former villain, he can say things other heroes wouldn't, even if they're unfair.
Hawkeye manages to get away to the luggage area to retrieve his weapons and the top part of his costume.
Things get interesting when the final BLF guys threaten to kill their hostage if Hawkeye won't let them go.
Silver Sable says she doesn't really care if the hostage lives or dies.
And in the nicest touch of all, the hostage decides she's not going to be a helpless victim.
I also like the little goodbye scene between Hawkeye and Sandman, and Hawkeye not being overly distrusting of or high and mighty towards him. If these issues were full length, we might have gotten to see some downtime scenes with Hawkeye and Sandman, who i could imagine enjoying a good game of poker and some beers together. But DeFalco is actually pretty economical with the amount of space he's got and does a good job with characterization. The fact that Sandman and Silver Sable are both "his" characters probably helps.
At the end, Hawkeye asks Silver Sable if she would have really let the hostage die, and she walks away without answering. Then, on the plane, he finds that she's slipped a bill in his pocket, but it's literally for one dollar.
I'm wondering if maybe she should consider a different logo, though. Isn't that pretty close to the Nazi Stormtrooper emblem?
When Hawkeye gets home, Mockingbird shows him how she feels about having gotten knocked out before Hawkeye left for Europe.
After she storms off, Hawkeye tells Wonder Man to not worry about it, because he knows how to handle women. And we next see him in a flower shop. But while he's there, a group of hooded thugs come in telling the owner of the shop, Frances, to close up shop because they don't like "your kind".
Hawkeye manages to unmask the leader, but, surprised that he's only a teenager, he lets his guard down and gets hit with a flower pot in the back of the head, and the group escapes. The flower shop owner says he doesn't want to pursue the matter further.
Hawkeye goes back to the West Coast Avengers compound, where Mockingbird patches up his head and agrees to go out with him to check out the teen gang, because Hawkeye had heard about an extortion ring in the area. They find the head of the gang getting brought in to Frances' flower shop, and it turns out that Frances is running the extortion ring, and the teens were trying to drive him out. Before Hawkeye and Mockingbird can jump in, though, we have the arrival of a guy calling himself Blind Justice.
Unlike Hawkeye and Mockingbird (well, from what we know from the West Coast Avengers, unlike Hawkeye, at least), Blind Justice believes in killing criminals. Hawkeye disagrees and tries to prevent Blind Justice from killing Frances. But Frances helpfully has a heart attack because he just hates to see people argue.
Hawkeye is still upset about the incident. Mockingbird's anger with him seems to have been forgotten.
Issue #9 opens with Hawkeye pumping a guy named Speedo for information about Blind Justice.
Now, you may not know this, but Speedo is one of the most feared villains in the Marvel universe, with the power of dropping his pants and revealing his way-too-small bathing trunks, paralyzing everyone with horror. Luckily Hawkeye got the drop on him. But Speedo doesn't actually know anything about Blind Justice. And Speedo also doesn't like getting harassed, so he calls his boss, who decides to arrange to have Blind Justice attack Hawkeye.
Later, Hawkeye is being interviewed by a reporter named Gayle Rogers, who will later become a supporting character in the Thunderbolts.
And meanwhile, Speedo's gang is baiting the trap that will pit Blind Justice against Hawkeye.
You guys! Speedo has a henchman named Zipper!
They're all a bit dumb, too.
Of course, Hawkeye isn't at his hyper-competent best, either.
Hawkeye stumbles through the ambush, not realizing that someone that we're meant to think is Blind Justice is taking the villains out.
Well, unless you looked at the cover, in which case you know it's Shroud.
Blind Justice does show up at the end, though. Hawkeye interferes with him as he's about to kill Speedo, and winds up getting Justice shot.
Blind Justice falls into the nearby water. The story ends with Shroud saying that at least the vigilante now knows "true justice... true peace", but we see a hand reaching out of the water for a ladder in the final panel.
It's been a long mundane trip since Hawkeye left for Europe in issue #3 but there's actually been a lot of fun stuff along the way. Hawkeye's interaction with Sandman and Silver Sable in issue #7 is the highlight, and his bumbling in issue #9 is also pretty funny. And Tom DeFalco continues to manage the pacing well, having sort-of continued stories that still have a complete story and a conclusion each issue but always just jump a little ahead in time, so we're not dealing with cliffhangers every 11 pages. And his lighthearted scripting works well with Hawkeye. M.D. Bright's artwork also keeps things looking professional and is good with the action. But the stories are still inconsequential fluff; especially now that the Trick Shot origin revision is over with, there's nothing going on that makes the stories specific to Hawkeye and there's no character development going on that you'd see in a regular solo title. The reason for having Hawkeye as a consistent headliner was so that readers would have something to keep coming back to, but if there wasn't anything specific going on for the character, maybe it would have been better to turn the focus over to another character. Maybe similar to what we'll see for Marvel Comics Presents, with a main feature that focuses on a specific character for 4 issue arcs while also having a back-up feature each issue with a simple 11 page one-and-done. We're a few years out from when Marvel will, by their own admission, flood the market with garbage titles just to crowd out the competition, but with this title feeling like pure filler to me, that's what came to mind. Again, that's not necessarily a comment on the scripting or art, just a general feeling of "What is the point of this book?".
Blind Justice doesn't have any special appeal, especially in a universe that, as issue #9 reminds us by including Shroud, is already littered with low-level vigilantes, and to my knowledge the character never appears again.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Some time passes between issues and these could easily be broken into multiple entries but my main goal is to compartmentalize them so that Hawkeye can get back to the West Coast Avengers book. Hawkeye still has to appear in Marvel Fanfare #39 next and then we're done with these little interruptions and can get to West Coast Avengers #32.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showGayle Rogers, Hawkeye, Le Peregrine, Mockingbird, Red Skull (Communist), Sandman, Shroud, Silver Sable, Wonder Man
Blind Justice is so lame even the NFL Superpro would be embarrassed to fight him. DeFalco's throwing some goofy stuff out there and the humor is appreciated but, like you, I fail to see the point of the series as its being handled so far. With Marvel Comics Presents coming shortly, it will be even more unnecessary.
Posted by: Robert | June 4, 2014 11:50 AM
I liked Hawk's interaction with Sable and the other heroes and I liked the way these issues flow, like a simple story about him getting home. I always liked issues that fill in the gaps like getting home as opposed to say finishing one issue in the Hymalayas then starting the next one back in NY (PM &IF 75 to 76). How about a story about how they got back?
Posted by: kveto from prague | June 4, 2014 2:53 PM
Several fans have suggested that the female boss might have been Lotus Newmark, a female crimelord that causes Hawkeye trouble in later issues and is eventually retconned into Lady Lotus. Unfortunately, the boss doesn't look Asian.
Posted by: Michael | June 4, 2014 7:51 PM
I really enjoyed these. The problem was that this was taking so long (we're now 9 months in) and was overlapping with the really serious drama going on between Clint and Bobbi over in WCA and it just seemed sort of jarring. But, at least it was a nice respite from all that drama, with just some fun superhero fighting.
Posted by: Erik Beck | August 2, 2015 6:23 PM
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