Okay, so here's the story. Before I read this comic, I was planning on putting it into one of my Quick Hits posts. However, it was so incredibly, staggeringly, amazingly, mind-blowingly good that I decided to give it its own post. So there's the back story, here's the comic.
Hawkeye: Blind Spot #1(of 4) Writer: Jim McCann. Artist: Paco Diaz.
Review: We kick things off with The World's Greatest Marksman, Hawkeye, along with a few fellow Avengers, preparing to take on a group of villains. After some verbal jousting Hawkeye fires the first shot and misses the villains. Badly. Regardless of that miss, the Avengers put the villains down, and head back to Avengers Tower. Tony Stark approaches Clint and tells him that he's been reviewing the past few battles Hawkeye has been a part of and noticed that Clint's accuracy has been steadily declining. Tony brings Clint into a medical room where Clint is surprised to discover Dr. Donald Blake and Steve Rogers. Tony explains that he took a scan of Clint's head earlier and discovered some swelling in his brain(as a result of a blow to the head Clint took during the Widowmaker mini-series). Clint then learns that not only is there nothing that can be done to relieve the swelling, but that it was diminishing his depth perception, and would eventually lead to total blindness. Tony tells Clint that he can rig up a few devices that would help with Clint's vision for the short term, while they try to figure out a way to halt the blindness before it has progressed to the point of no return. Clint refuses Tony's devices and asks to be left alone, still shocked by the news. His teammates leave the room and Clint puts his fist into some brain scans before flashing back to a scene from his childhood, straight through to his initial meeting with the Swordsman. After some thought, Clint heads out to see Tony and to take him up on his offer of assistance. Tony gives Clint a new cowl that would give him near radar-like vision, as well as a pair of sunglasses that would function similarly to the new cowl. Clint thanks Tony for the “toys” and flashes back to just after his legs had been broken thanks to the Swordsman. From there we relive Clint's first meeting with Trickshot, the archer who would train Clint to become Hawkeye. We go over Trickshot's betrayal of Clint, and his initial meeting with Iron Man, who inspires Clint to become a costumed hero in the first place. The flashbacks end with Clint breaking away from the(at the time) villainous Black Widow and thinking about joining the Avengers. Back in the present, Clint receives a mysterious phone call and is taunted by some unknown voice, while Trickshot's unconscious body is tossed into the lobby of Avengers Tower. Clint rushes to his onetime mentor's side and hands him over to Dr. Blake. After a some tests, Blake reveals that Trickshot had been seemingly tortured for an extended amount of time(probably at least a year), and that his cancer had returned. In other words, Trickshot wasn't long to the world. Blake leaves Clint alone with Trickshot to say his farewells and Trickshot awakens momentarily to tell Clint that he had been forced to train somebody. Trickshot explains that this archer hated Clint passionately and that he was nearly as skilled as Clint himself. Trickshot apologizes for all he did wrong to Clint and dies. From there we head to an abandoned section of Coney Island where an archer dressed all in red walks into a room to meet with Baron Zemo(!!!). Zemo asks if the archer had delivered the message to Hawkeye and the archer responds that Trickshot had been dropped off. The archer talks about how he's waited for years to get his revenge on Clint, and Zemo tells him to be patient, since it was nearly time to bring Hawkeye to his knees.
Thoughts: This was without a shadow of a doubt the BEST single comic book issue I've read in a LONG time. Possibly years. I actually read it TWICE it was so good! And then I wrote this review and used the comic as reference so I could go through it a third time! It was that good. As I'm sure several of you know, I am one of the biggest Hawkeye fans around. I have the entire West Coast Avengers run, every issue of Avengers Spotlight, all of the various Hawkeye series that have been released over the years, his Thunderbolts appearances, etc. In other words, when it comes to comic book characters, Hawkeye is in my personal top 5. That's why this comic was such a treat. You can tell Jim McCann did his research. He KNOWS this character. Hawkeye speaks as I'd expect him to speak. He acts the way I'd expect him to act. He wrote the perfect Hawkeye here. Not only were the words perfectly done, the art followed suit, with every detail from the flashbacks recreated in exact detail, right down to Clint's jacket from when he unwittingly served as Trickshot accomplice to a robbery. So kudos also need to go to Paco Diaz for the great visuals. So the dialogue was perfect, and the art was great, but what about the story? The story was as good, if not better! The internal threat Clint is facing is probably the most dire one an archer can face, the loss of his eyesight. I'd reckon it would be mighty hard to be a blind archer! Besides that, there's also the external threat Clint has to deal with, the archer who Zemo forced Trickshot into training. And to up the ante, this archer, along with Zemo withheld the medications that Trickshot needed to prolong his life, adding a personal layer to this story. And then there's Zemo... Putting Baron Zemo in the role of the mastermind behind this archer was sheer GENIUS! Clint and Zemo have some legitimate hatred from back when Clint led the Thunderbolts, a team Zemo always considered to be his. With Zemo having recently turned back to a life of crime, it makes PERFECT sense for him to go after Clint, especially now that Zemo has noticed Clint isn't at the top of his game. Finally, there's the mysterious archer. His identity is unknown to Clint and the Avengers(his voice was scanned after he called Clint and the Avengers computers came up empty), but he seems to know Clint, and on top of that seems to have waited some time to get revenge on Clint... My guess is that this archer is the son of Clint's dead brother Barney, but who can say? Whew... I can't think of anything else to say here... In all honesty, nothing I say can do this comic justice. It needs to be read. I mean hell, it's only $2.99, which is a dollar cheaper than most of Marvel's mini-series, and it's worth every penny. If Marvel jacked the price up to $10 for the second issue I'd HAPPILY pay that price. I could seriously go on and on about this comic, but I'll end this review here. This was the first issue of this mini-series. It's only four issues. The price is a VERY reasonable $2.99. Buy this comic! If you've ever been a fan of the Avengers you owe it to yourself to read this! Even if you don't know squat about Hawkeye besides the fact that he's an archer, you should STILL buy this comic! Trust me, you'll be glad you did.
Score: 11 out of 10. Yes, that's right, an 11. If I can give one comic a -356 for a score, why can't I give this one an 11? It truly was beyond perfect.Awesomeness, thy name is Hawkeye!