Waiting for the Trade – Hawkeye

Waiting for the Trade
By Bill Miller
New Avengers: The Reunion
by Jim McCann and David Lopez
Collects New Avengers The Reunion  # 1- 4 and Dark Reign: New Nation.
Why I Bought This – Considering this is the long awaited reunion of Hawkeye and Mockingbird
(again my second favorite comic couple) the real question is why did I take so
long to buy it? The answer to that is actually the New Avengers name, which is
no doubt put here to help it sell but has the opposite effect of invoking bad
connotations for me as I hate everything Bendis has done with Hawkeye (and most
of the team) in that title. It wasn’t until I read the Hawkeye and Mockingbird trade that occurs after this and is also by
McCann that I safely felt this dude gets these characters and decided I wanted
to buy this one too. Having recently (re)read the first meeting of these two in
the Avengers: Hawkeye trade following
the movie this felt like a natural follow-up pick-up.
The Plot:
Hawkeye’s wife Mockingbird needlessly died in the early 90s when West Coast Avengers was cancelled. In Secret Invasion it was revealed she was
still alive, having been kidnapped by aliens before her death and it was a
Skrull impersonating her that had died in her stead way back when. Now Hawkeye
and Mockingbird are reunited for the first time in years.

This is a very character
driven story, so the only way to recap it is with fairly heavy spoilers. You’ve
been warned.
Chapter 0 – Hawk and Bird are
sparring and she draws blood. Later she tests the blood in a private lab to
prove Hawkeye isn’t a Skrull. We also see she is having flashbacks from her
time on the Skull world. Hawkeye wants to renew their relationship but Mock
walks away from him and decides to become a spy again.
Chapter 1 – Hawk follows Bird
to a hospital where she’s doing spy stuff and she tells him to go away. We see
a flashback of how Hawkeye found her: He went to Bucky-Cap, who helped Hawk
track her down after some snarky banter. Bucky also warns Hawkeye that being on
ice and having your life stolen can change a person. Back at the hospital Mock
lets Hawk tag along, and they uncover the hospital is a front for AIM (who in
this story are playing the role of generic terrorists instead of their usual
super science conquer the world bit). I should mention Hawkeye starts the
battle dressed in his ridiculous Ronin identity but fortunately runs out of
ninja weapons and Mock has a bow and arrow for him to fall back on so he can be
his classic self for the rest of the story. Anyway the heroes escape an ambush
in one of SHIELD’s flying cars, and Mock reveals she has some stolen Skrull
information files that she is using to create an independent spy agency to work
outside of SHIELD; in this case to prevent AIM from detonating a chemical bomb
in Spain. Hawkeye then net arrows her and calls in Bucky-Cap for back-up.
Chapter 2 – Bird breaks free
and we get the obligatory fight scene, although the dialogue makes up for it in
spades as Bird questions the whole ludicrous Ronin thing as a reason she
doesn’t know if she can trust Hawkeye anymore and McCann and Lopez through a
combination of art and dialogue reveal how the identity was meant as a tribute
to Mockingbird. And in just two pages he’s partially redeemed five years of
terrible writing by Bendis for fans of classic Hawkeye.  This then directly leads to Hawkeye empathizing
with her on how coming back from the dead can mess you up as we get more
tidying up of Bendis plot holes. This leads to a compromise where Bird will let
Hawk come along on her spy mission if he cuts ties with Bucky-Cap and the New
Avengers for the duration of the mission. We cut to them flying over the
Atlantic and as Bird briefs Hawkeye on the mission and the we get dual
flashbacks: Bird recalls being targeted by the Skrulls when she was on a plane
heading to see Hawkeye about their estranged marriage and Hawkeye recalling having
to tell Tigra (another founding member of the West Coast Avengers and Bobbi’s
best friend on the team) that Mockingbird had died after WCA 100. In Spain
the two discuss infiltrating a James Bond style gala being held for world
leaders and scientists by the villain (Monica Rappaccini, last seen being
killed in MODOK’s 13). Following the
debriefing they retire to separate hotel rooms which causes Bird to flashback
to their honeymoon, followed by their break-up and her kidnapping moments
before a mission with Ultron—which for long time fans of WCA is a big clue to
this issue’s cliffhanger). The duo are then getting dressed into formal wear
for their cover identities when Hawkeye finally asks Mockingbird why she is
acting as if they are still estranged when they had reunited prior to her death
(and indeed were on the verge or retiring from superheroics to try for a family
when she died) and she reveals to Hawkeye she was kidnapped prior to the Ultron
mission that reconciled them, so in fact they had never reconciled and had she
not been kidnapped by Skrulls she was going to file for divorce.
Chapter 3 – The duo are infiltrating
the party, and it really reads like a great James Bond movie. Hawkeye figures
out the plan is not to blow up the scientists but to kidnap them and then blow
up the building to hide the evidence they are missing. Hearing about the
abduction plan causes Bobbi to flashback to some of the mind-f------ she
received on the Skrull homeworld with Skrulls continuously pretending to be
Clint and Tigra to get info out of her. Followed by another flashback to the
Hawkeye Skrull becoming obsessed with her until she had to kill him while he
still looked like her husband. Clint wakes her up and wants to talk about their
marital problems from way back when, but then she finds the bomb and it
explodes, apparently killing Hawkeye.
Chapter 4 – Monica reveals
herself to Mockingbird and tries to recruit her for AIM. Mockingbird says no in
a physical way and we get a short but cool fight scene as Monica has access to
lots of AIM’s cooler science fiction tech. Mockingbird wins with a bit of low
tech trickery by anticipating Monica’s teleport trajectory and bouncing one of
her metal staves off the wall behind her to KO her. We cut to Hawkeye waking up
under the rubble. When he climbs out Bird is happy to see him alive. They
evacuate the civilians at the party and then take out a platoon of AIM agents.
This just leaves defusing the bomb and they pull that off too. After the
mission they fly to the now abandoned West Coast Avengers headquarters so
Mockingbird can have some closure. She then goes through all the reasons they
shouldn’t get back together until Hawkeye kisses her and puts an end to that.
We get one final cut scene that says “nine days later” that shows them jumping
out of a plane together for another spy mission and making dinner plans on the
way down.
Critical Thoughts: I enjoyed the hell out of this. I can see that it would be very
continuity dense for new readers, but as someone who bought every single issue
of West Coast Avengers in real time I
loved how much and how faithfully it used that continuity in the flashback
sequences. I also really appreciated the effort to take all of Bendis’ missteps
with Hawkeye and try to rework them into something more inline with his classic
interpretation.
I found the spy stuff to be
fun, although the action sequences are clearly secondary to the character
moments in this story. I’m not completely sold on AIM being the villains for
this type of story. In their earliest appearances AIM was doing things like
building the Cosmic Cube, empowering MODOK and creating the Super Adaptoid; so
blowing up a building in Spain
seems beneath them. There are plenty of traditional terrorist groups like Hydra
or the Secret Empire that could have been used instead and would have fit
better. However if you are going to use AIM, I didn’t mind seeing Monica as the
villain. While it somewhat undercuts the excellent ending to MODOK’s 13 she’s an interesting enough
villain to bring back.
Finally I’d say this book soars in the final chapter on a
romantic level like few comic books do. That ending of them diving out of plan
while making dinner plans felt like it could have come straight from a movie
hoping for a sequel. (And in fact this book has a sequel, the aforementioned even
more excellent Hawkeye & Mockingbird trade).
It’s a shame that Bendis promptly ignored all this great character work by
McCann so Hawkeye could date frickin’ Spider-Woman instead.
Grade A. This
book is exactly what longtime fans of Hawkeye and Mockingbird would want in a
story titled “The Reunion.”