ADVANCE REVIEW: Ultimate Comics Hawkeye #1 (Spoiler Free)

Ultimate Comics: Hawkeye #1 Cover by Kaare Andrews

Ultimate Comics: Hawkeye #1

Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Rafa Sandoval
Inks by Jordi Tarragona
Color by Brad Anderson
Cover by Kaare Andrews

World’s on fire.

In his second Ultimate Comics title this month (following last week’s The Ultimates #1) Marvel Architect Jonathan Hickman enacts some serious demolition. We see threat level conditions transition from yellow to orange to red, though not in that order. Helicarriers navigate through towering plumes of smoke in a devastated Bangkok, home to S.H.I.E.L.D’s. base in the Southeast Asian Republic. But how did things get this way, and who’s tasked with cleaning things up?

The answer to the second question is all in the title. S.H.I.E.L.D. operative ¬†Clint Barton–codename Hawkeye–is stationed in Bangkok when a trio of souped-up metahumans come banging down the agency’s door. This four issue mini series centers on Barton’s investigation into the mysterious attackers and the program that created them. After this opening salvo readers know a little bit more than Hawkeye about the chief questions–The Plan, the People, and the Serum–though judging by his performance so far, it won’t take too long for our hero to catch up.

If you’ve read previous Ultimates titles, you’ll know we won’t be seeing purple. Now more than ever, Ultimate Hawkeye mirrors the character from the Marvel Studios films (what little we’ve seen of him so far). No mask. No whiff of funnel cake batter. Not like this. This is a secret agent with the ability to turn any object into a weapon. Sandoval’s Clint Barton feels much more like a modern Steve McQueen government agent, tough, brash and capable in dire circumstances. If this is any indication of what we might see in next year’s Avengers film, he might be a fan favorite among some true heavy hitters.

But the real star of this issue is Hickman’s broadening map of the Ultimate Comics universe. A terrorist organization is plotting against the world’s mutant population, or at least its potential population. They’re also capitalizing on that genetic subset. It’s a thoughtful premise and streamlines the geopolitical makeup of this world to an extent that the traditional Marvel Universe could probably never return to this deep into its evolution. Over the decades, tentpole Marvel events have either centered on the Avengers family of heroes or the mutant population. There are certainly exceptions, but for the most part, the mutant story is relegated to its own corner, however its happenings truly ought to shape other characters’ stories on a global scale. With these new Ultimates titles, the mutant “problem” is very much a pervading presence throughout this universe. Fantastical as it all is, there’s a cohesive sense of realism here, or at least a sense that ramifications in one book will be felt in the others. That’s refreshing and feels very much like a course correction long overdue.

This is very much a setup issue, with a big inciting incident and call to action. Promising as the mission statement feels now, this chapter on its own does feel a bit slight. Packed as it is with background on the People and a new threat for mutants from the SEAR, it’s mostly potential energy building up for issue #2. Hickman offers a compelling new threat and a pretty badass platform from which Clint Barton (I find myself just wanting to use his real name and not his 007 handle) can strike out on his own. Sandoval’s art feels reminiscent of Stuart Immonen’s mainstream Marvel work of late, and you know that’s not a bad thing. The potential’s all here for a solid spy romp with real-world maturity.

Story: 3.5 / Art: 4 / Overall: 4

(Out of 5)




  1. Love it

  2. Nice review.

    Even though I like Hickman, I just had no desire to try this out. Partly because my comic stack is too expensive as it is, but also because I just hate the Ultimate universe now. I’m in for Hickman’s Ultimates in trade but….I just hate the Ultimate universe as a whole.

    • Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

      Not sure how you know you hate it since the new direction just started with one book out. There’s been a lot of advance info, sure, but could you be more specific about your dislike?

    • I just mean in general. Other then a good amount of USM, I haven’t been a fan of the Ultimate universe. It doesn’t help that the review for Ultimates #1 has been kinda mixed all over the place.

      That and everyone has the same opinion: Everyone is an asshole in the Ultimate universe.

    • I tend to get the “everybody is an asshole” vibe as well. I’m giving more Ultimate series and characters a shot with their mini-reboot thing they have going on, but so far I’ve only really liked USM. I did moderately enjoy the new Ultimates issue however, so I’m a bit more optimistic about it than I used to be.

    • I dont see the “everyone is an asshole”. I mean i see it but I personally don’t think its true. I feel like the only people that are especially more dickish than in the 616 are Hank Pym and Steve Rogers. Wolverine was pretty dickish at the beginning too i guess. The characters are more rounded I feel like, more what they would be in real life.

    • I too can’t really be bothered to care about the Ultimate universe. I’ve tried quite a bit of it, and all I ever really enjoyed was Fantastic Four.

  3. I always enjoyed Ultimate Hawkeye as a character, although I do wish his family didn’t get killed, it made him more interesting and grounded.

  4. Possibly the book I’m most looking forward to in the Ultimate relaunch. I do love a bit of Arrow Guy, whether he be from Marvel or DC.

  5. Sounds like fun. Does it come in a poly bag. I was going to pick up ultimates #1, but when i saw it was polly bagged, i wasn’t very impressed.

    Also, do you need to read ultiamtes to read ths. I am guessing not, but just thought i’d throw it out there.

  6. I am one of those who can’t stand the Ultimates. But if anyone can make the unlikable idiots of the Ultimate universe likable its Hickman. I’ll give it a try..

  7. You can dislike them as people and still think the characters are well-done. I think Ultimate Cap is a dick, but that mini series of his was awesome. So far, I’m on board with Hickman’s Ultimate books. Sure helps that they’re day and date on my iPad.

  8. I thought I’d sample all the new Ultimate line having liked Bendis’ USM run along with Hickman and and Spencer as writers. Was kind of hoping I wouldn’t like them so I could spend my cash on new DC but Ultimates 1 was great so pretty excited for this.

  9. cool, but i can’t wait to hear what Josh thinks.