Event comics allow for different kinds of stories that can take series like the Avengers off the beaten track. Case in point, The Avengers #60 features a new creative team for a one-shot tale focused on Hawkeye. Tying into the A.X.E.: Judgment Day event, Mark Russell and Greg Land give Hawkeye 24 hours to pad out his stat sheet and be judged well, or face death and be judged poorly. No pressure!
From the very first panel, The Avengers #60 is a delight. Mark Russell’s voice shines through as Hawkeye’s positivity and stubborn open-mindedness carry him through the narrative. The issue starts with Hawkeye on his way to a diner after a bloody mission with an alien. Soon he meets up with Black Widow, but she’s the Celestial judging people left and right in Marvel’s big event.
Skeptical at first (though the ability to send Clint to Saturn certainly helps convince him they are who they say they are), Hawkeye demands some kind of baseline to improve himself. A mailbox will do! The nonsensical choice mixed with Hawkeye being intrigued by the idea carries forward throughout the issue. This leads to Hawkeye meeting some friends, fighting bad guys, and questioning himself and his actions. Hawkeye fans will be fed with the good characterization and fun approach to the character. When faced with death and judgment, of course, Clint takes it in stride.
Art by Land is clean and classic Land. Is there any artist that is more consistent in their style and approach? The story moves along well and plays nicely with the sometimes verbose word balloons. There’s a lot of talking, but Land’s art works well with it, getting away from the sometimes stiff-looking poses he’s known for.
A slight failing of this event is the lack of explanation as far as why the Celestial cares to give anyone extra time to improve themselves. Given the horrors he commits on heroes in A.X.E.: Judgment Day #5, it’s weird to see it give Hawkeye more time or Wolverine more time in his book. The setup is sound enough, but it’s still a head-scratcher. Hawkeye himself won’t play the game, but he doesn’t seem to be interested in knowing why it’s judging him at all. It’s an element that could have improved the overall experience, or at least given it more purpose.
As a one-shot, The Avengers #60 is nearly perfectly written. It captures the heart of Hawkeye to perfection and offers a bit of humor and lightheartedness that high-stakes event comics tend to forget are necessary for making a story relatable and fun.
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