Waiting for the Trade: Captain America & Hawkeye

Waiting for the Trade

by Bill Miller

 

Captain America &
Hawkeye

by Cullen Bunn with
illustrations by Alessandro Vitti and Matteo Buffagni

collects Captain America and
Hawkeye 629-632.

 

Why I Bought This: Cap
and Hawkeye are my two favorite Avengers so if you stick them in a series
together you are going to get my money. Throw in Stegron, who is one of the
more enjoyable C-list Spidey foes and that’s just extra incentive to pick this
up.
The Plot: Cap and
Hawkeye go to New Mexico
to investigate the disappearance of some environmentalists only to discover an
army of symbiote dinosaurs.

Chapter 1 – We start with Cap and Hawkeye (now dressed in
his Avengers movie costume) battling
some paramilitary mercenaries while engaging each other in semi-hostile banter.
After they win the fight they learn the mercenaries have a government contract
and meet the female director of the program Kashmir Vennema. Hawkeye flirts
with her but she flirts with Cap, as Cap briefs her on the missing environmentalists
which is made up of families with children. Vennema shows Cap and Hawkeye
around her HQ and notes the mountain is littered with dinosaur bones. Also she
has the corpse of a bug creature, which she reveals is a mutated human.
Apparently the paramilitary group has been fighting the mutants for months, and
when the mutants capture members of her team they make them one of their own.
Cap and Hawkeye go into underground caves to investigate and are attacked by a
velociraptor. When it shrugs off Hawkeye’s electric arrows the heroes realize
something isn’t right. Then when Cap hits it with his shield the skin jumps off
the bone and we see the creature is actually a symbiote animating dinosaur
bones. Once the heroes realize it isn’t a mutated human, Hawkeye using a flame
arrow to kill the symbiote. However the noise of the explosion brings out a lot
more creatures.

Chapter 2 – Cap and Hawkeye are able to hold the creatures
at bay until a pterodactyl swoops in and snatches Cap. Hawkeye tries to hitch a
ride with a cable arrow but the creature shakes him off leaving him alone in a
new dark cave. Back at the lab the mutant corpse from last issue pops up and
its symbiote possesses an old man that was performing an autopsy. Vennema
however shoots him in the head to put him down before that goes any further,
which causes the symbiote to go dormant. Cap wakes up in Stegron’s lair.
Stegron explains these caves were part of an underground city of dinosaur men
called the Saurians who were exterminated by the Dire Wraith. Stegron came here
to use his magic wand that usually reanimates dinosaur bones in museums to try
to resurrect the Saurians but accidentally created the dinosaur symbiotes
instead. Stegron apologizes for his actions as a symbiote drips off him. In the
tunnels Hawkeye comes across Cap who now has a velociraptor symbiote for a
head.

Chapter 3 – Raptor-Cap has Hawkeye on the defensive until
Cap manages to regain control long enough to give Hawkeye an opening, allowing
Clint to use a sonic arrow to drive the symbiote away.  Cap and Hawkeye then re-engage the lesser
mutants, while the main symbiote finds the bones of an enormous snake. After
winning off-camera, Cap and Hawkeye banter some more until they find Stegron.
They have a brief fight that ends with Hawkeye pulling a gun to Stegron’s head
to get him to surrender. Stegron claims he was seeking Cap out to help him as
his original goal of resurrecting the Saurians is impossible, apparently
because their remains are infused with Wraith DNA (The Dire Wraith are kind of
like the Invasion of the Body Snatchers
aliens). The three of them are then
confronted by the mutated children of the environmentalists and Stegron agrees
to fight them, so Cap and Hawkeye can handle the main threat. Back upstairs the
paramilitary group is starting to evacuate with their research when Cap and
Hawkeye confront them. They attempt to draw guns on the heroes but the
stand-off is interrupted by the Wraith-Queen-symbiote-dino-snake monster.

Chapter 4 – The soldiers open fire on the symbiote snake and
when the bullets prove useless they run away. Alas it does them no good because
they run into the horde of mutants. Stegron then shows up and actually makes
the save. Meanwhile Cap decides to crash the Quinjet into Dino-Snake but even
that doesn’t slow it down. Hawkeye wants to try a sonic arrow on it but he only
has one left so Cap tells him to use it to separate the symbiotes from the civilian
hosts instead. Hawkeye does so and then terminates the symbiotes after they
separate. Hawkeye and Stegron come up with a plan, while Cap continues to
battle the dino-snake in a well-rendered fight scene. Ultimately, Clint uses
dino bones as arrow heads and shoots the creature and then has Stegron
reanimate the bones causing dinosaurs to burst out from the snake (ala Aliens) thus  killing it. In the aftermath both Stegron and
Vennema escape and she offers to put Stegron on the payroll of her mysterious
employer.

 
Critical Thoughts: This
perfectly entertaining little comic book. Certainly not world changing but hey it’s
Cap and Hawkeye vs. Velociraptor versions of Venom, which has a fun superficial
appeal.

On the critical level, the Cap and Hawkeye banter is
probably a little harsher than it should be considering how long these two have
been working together, but if you have only four issues to let these characters
play off each other I can understand pushing their differences to the forefront
for a little bit.

The existence of the symbiotes makes little sense in this
context since the symbiotes have long been established as their own alien race,
and these symbiotes clearly have the exact same two weaknesses as the ones we
see in Spider-man all the time, yet
here they are somehow created as a side-effect of trying to magically resurrect
corpses infected with Dire Wraith DNA. I’d complain but at the end of the day
the Symbiotes are 1 million times more interesting than the Dire Wraith in the
pantheon of Marvel alien species, so while it’s a plot hole it results in a far
better story than the alternative.

I’m also not sure I buy Stegron’s motivations. I can see him
not wanting the Symbiote-Wraith hybrids to run amok as its counter to his
long-standing motivation of brining back the dinosaurs to rule the Earth. But I
don’t believe he would care about human children or soldiers (Indeed Stegron’s
second appearance saw him take a child, Billy Connors, hostage).  Furthermore I don’t believe Cap would trust
Stegron to take care of the possessed children while both he and Hawkeye run
off to deal with the problem, he’d be much more likely to have one Stegron
accompany one of the heroes and have the other hero save the kids.

However overall I like Cap’s characterization in this story.
Telling Hawkeye to use his last sonic arrow to save civilians instead of defeat
the monster very much feels like Cap. I also like that he’s able to shake off
the symbiote’s influence long enough to give Hawkeye an opening and his
determination in taking on the big snake in the final battle.

On the flipside, it seems Bendis’s mischaracterization of
Hawkeye is now spreading to other writers. He carries a gun now? (Sigh). He
wants to casually kill Stegron (double sigh). Still it’s not all bad, Hawkeye
does come up with the winning plan after all and it’s fairly unconventional
one, which in that sense is classic Hawkeye.

 

Grade: C+. We’re
not changing the world, but this is a fun enough team up story.