Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, Which Archer is the Bestest of Them All: an “Occupy Avengers #2” (Review)

Dec 25, 2016

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oa#2Occupy Avengers #2

Writer: David F. Walker
Penciler: Carlos Pacheco
Inker: Rafael Fonteriz
Colorist: Sonia Oback
Letterer: Travis Lanham

It is by happenstance that I had the opportunity to check in on both of the Master Archers of the Big Two this week. And I realize that I have had for a while a deep desire for both DC and Marvel to fix the problem with their bow-casters. The similarity between the two characters in recent years is uncanny. Uncanny in that, we have always gotten that one of the two is a riff off the other. But in recent history, the two characters have both suffered from the lack of any singular defining quality. They have been an ambiguous puddle of, no offense, non-descript average white-guy super-hero. It’s sort of the exact kind of thing that causes me to support the recent campaigns for diversity in comics. Because when you troll the same one-dimensional character template over and over, that schmutz gets old.

The recent DC Rebirth has made an effort to clean up the Oliver Queen house. And Occupy Avengers might be the best hope for a Hawkeye renaissance that has appeared in a while. To be fair, Clint has had some brief flashbangs of excitement since the character’s appearance on the big screen. He was the Dude-bro for a brief period. And grounding him in an apartment in New York and making him part of a neighborhood and a community gave his ephemeral character a bit more stick. Adding a second Hawkeye? Meh. But at least it’s a thing I remember. His part as a Secret Avenger and espousing Nick Spencer’s signature humor was also a brief, enjoyable blip. But my main issue is that I feel like comics-Marvel has never capitalized on any of these launch points to turn those interesting morsels into an extensible and successful Barton escapade. The character has simply not been evolved into a featured, enjoyable part of the Marvel tapestry. There has been no defining success along the lines of Gerry Duggan’s Deadpool or Soule’s Daredevil or the recent renditions of Venom. But David F. Walker and his creative team might just have a hook here in Occupy. In fact, I am pretty sure of it.

If anyone knows me, even if only through my coverage of the comics industry, they’ll know that I love me a good buddy cop movie, show, or comic. It is one of the principal reasons I’ve been a fan 640 (5)of the current Green Lanterns run, despite the fact that a strong argument can be made that Baz and Cruz are not necessarily the best or most interesting Lanterns that have ever been chosen. It doesn’t matter. Just give me Lethal Weapon wrapped up in a comic book coating and I’ll typically show up. I had no idea that Occupy Avengers was happening, and very little inkling as to what it was about. I was happy to find that buddy cop hook that I so enjoy as an evolving story between Hawkeye and Red Wolf when I read the pages of this issue. Walker handles this story wonderfully, and, quite honestly, makes the most interesting parts about Red Wolf (who is now either a time traveler or has been resurrected?), rather than making Barton the focal point.  Making the story revolve Hawkeye as the straight-man works wonderfully. Maybe the only problem with Marvel figuring out what to do with Clint the last few years has been giving him a great partner and getting some more space between him and Mockingbird. Barton griefing the hell out of Hydro-Man is so appropriate for such an ersatz villain in the Marvel Universe, that every line was met with a bit of joyful laughter. And the introduction? Appearance? …of the Fireheart brothers was also an excellent aside that keeps the reader from getting too bored with the main storyline. Although it did leave me confused as to whether either of these two Native American brothers were supposed to have any relation to either Puma or Thunderbird.

640 (1)Carlos Pacheco turns a wonderful pencil in this issue as he always does. But I have to give a big shout to the Inks (Fonteriz) and Colors (Oback) in this issue, which are simply off the chain. The texture in both the inter-lines and the overlays on top of Pacheco’s pencils really make this issue sing, and are some of the key reasons that I might stay on this ongoing. I love how the Fireheart brothers’ car is full of texture so that you can tell its age; it’s a wonderful attention to detail too frequently left out of vehicle art in comics. While panel layouts in this issue are pretty mundane, I give that a bye due to the continuity of the fight choreography. There is a TON of melee in this, as only one of the characters featured has any kind of super power, and the rest are brawlers. Keeping the fights straight from panel-to-panel would be a feat for any team, but it’s doubly notable here, given the numbers involved in the climactic brawl near the issue’s end.

I really like what I see here in Occupy Avengers #2. It is the best Hawkeye story I have read in a long time. As the issue wraps up, Hawkeye invites Wolf to accompany him on his redemption road-trip. I have serious hopes that the Fireheart brothers also join up. Occupy Avengers might be THE off-beat winter storyline that provides the most interesting hook in the Marvel Universe as we turn the corner into spring. If my snowy days have to be filled with tons of inside time, I hope this title maintains this creative quality. Nothing wrong with one more solid comic to while the winter days away.