Lately, it seems everything’s coming up Hawkeye. This summer, we got a brief glimpse of the Arrowed Avenger on the big screen in Thor. We’ll get to see a lot more of Clint in next summer’s much anticipated Avengers movie.
But what about comics?
Next month Hawkeye stars in Avengers: Solo written by Jen Van Meter with art by Roger Robinson. In the new mini-series Hawkeye uncovers a grisly conspiracy that threatens the reputation of the Avengers, and it’s all down to Clint to protect his friends. The book also includes a backup story by Jim McCann and Clayton Henry featuring Hank Pym and the kids of Avengers Academy.
We were able to chat with writer Jen Van Meter about her take on Clint Barton and a few other characters in the Marvel universe.
iFanboy: Over the past couple of years we’ve seen Hawkeye go from kind of a supporting character to more of a team leader and a real superhero in his own right. What’s your take on Clint and how he fits into the Avengers team dynamic?
Jen Van Meter: It’s a funny thing — I think that Clint sees himself as kind of a rebel within the Avengers, in the sense that no matter how much he may admire or respect a colleague, he’s always going to be willing to challenge any of them if he disagrees. It feels, to me, like an assertion of his belonging–his right to talk back–and also one of his important roles in that group– the guy will speak truth to power, any power. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about different presentations I’ve read of his joining the Avengers– did he want it with all his heart or was it a more calculated desire to get himself where the spotlight was? I tend to feel more swayed by that first notion, that even when he might say, “I don’t need this,” he does. This is the family he chose for himself, you know? And given his painful personal history, that chosen family’s safety and soundness are enormously important to him.
iF: Most recently Clint lost his eyesight for a bit, will that come into play in your story?
JVM: Not directly, but yes; I’m writing a Hawkeye who’s given some real thought recently to what it feels like to be vulnerable, to feel like your identity is on the line because of something you can’t undo by yourself.
iF: I really like your perspective on Clint as a character; can you tell us a bit about the story for Avengers: Solo?
JVM: It’s structured like a mystery/thriller; a man asks Hawkeye to help him find his missing sister, and everything rolls out from that. What he finds is a pretty ghastly conspiracy that threatens the reputation of some of his fellow Avengers, so he’s doubly motivated to do something about it without involving them. I’m sticking very closely with Clint — we see very little that he doesn’t — so the story is as much about his perception of what’s happening as it is about the plot.
iF: I understand the Trapster is playing a role in this story, how did that come about? What’s your take on Paste Pot Pete?
JVM: I don’t think it gives too much away to say that the central bad guys in the story have hired or drawn in a few Marvel villains to address a couple problems they did not foresee, and Trapster is one of them. I liked him for this because he seemed like a natural choice for the characters doing the choosing, if that makes sense; his grounding as a scientist and his particular insecurities made sense to me as things they would see as useful. My take on him? He’s a very smart and extremely bitter man who feels like all his hard work and genius never pay off or garner the respect they deserve, and one of these days all of that will combine to make him very dangerous indeed.
iF: Your recent Black Cat mini-series was a ton of fun, are there any other characters in the Marvel universe you’d like to work on?
JVM: Thanks for saying so; I’m really proud of that book and I love Felicia. Other characters? There’re so many –I’m very fond of Wolverine, Spider-Man, Ms. Marvel, Tigra, and the Heroes for Hire ‘family;’ Luke & Danny, Misty & Colleen have a great dynamic. I surprised myself not long ago, writing pitches for something involving The Hulk; I never thought he’d be a character I could enjoy writing, but I’ve come to see otherwise.
iF: I was totally not expecting you to say the Hulk. What is it about him that appealed to you?
JVM: I’ve always kind of liked the Hulk, too, but never saw myself writing him; when I started trying to come up with story ideas about him, though, I realized I’m really drawn to that lovely loneliness built into the character. People need to connect with other people –we’re pack animals, you know? To be this decent, smart, kind person, and always be haunted by your potential to lose control and hurt those around you? It’s just such a meaty character problem; I think it’s the same core conflict that draws a lot of readers to vampiric characters, but I like how the Hulk pulls that story away from an overtly sexual context, where vampire stories can hardly help hyper-sexualizing it.
iF: Do you find there’s a commonality between the characters you’re drawn to?
JVM: Gosh, that’s a hard one. I think I’m generally more interested in the nervy characters who risk getting in over their heads; I like thinking about the courage to try against the odds more than I enjoy the struggle to find a problem big enough that it’s a problem for someone with god-like capacities. I think that’s one of the reasons I enjoy the junior-varsity villains and criminals in superhero books; that they don’t give up on their whacked-out ambitions and get day jobs, despite knowing they potentially face, say, all the superheroes in New York? I don’t have to admire the goals or the means, but I get a kick out of that moxie.
Avengers: Solo hits comic shops on October 26, but here’s a preview of the first three pages, with art by Roger Robinson…