Warning: This review contains spoilers.
Matt Fraction and Anne Wu take readers out to Los Angeles for one final Kate Bishop issue in Hawkeye #20. Despite the gravity of the situation – directly taking on Madame Masque – the oh-so-Kate humor readers have come to expect remains ever present. Sadly, there is no appearance by Pizza Dog, despite what the title page would lead readers to believe.
Fraction’s narrative structure is for Hawkeye #20 is anything but conventional. Using a testimony to certain members S.H.I.E.L.D. as a framing device, the story jumps from event to event in a nonlinear manner. Under the pen of less capable writers, this would read as a jumbled mess. Yet Fraction, who previously penned the Eisner winning “Pizza is my Business” issue and last month’s sign-language issue, has proven to be more than capable in eschewing conventional storytelling techniques.
Anne Wu’s artwork lacks the refinement of previous issues, but more than makes up for it with well-structured layouts, unique perspectives, and expressive character models. This is clearly on display early in the issue when Kate pieces together the connections to Madame Masque. Wu goes so far as to have Kate literally connect the dots with hand motions that adds both charm and gravity to the scene. Hawkeye has been built upon small details injected into the story by the artist, whether it’s Wu, David Aja, or Francesco Francavilla.
The irreverent attitude and outright hilarious dialogue Fraction provides Kate is alone worth picking up this comic. She is at one point arrested for a murder which she clearly does not commit, and therefore spends the entirety of her processing mocking the police officers and demanding a phone call. The ending to the sequence is a perfect comedic collaboration between writer and artist.
Despite the ever-present comedic elements inherent to the character, this is far from a bright and sunny issue. The resolution is one uncommon to find in a “superhero” comic. There are emotional goodbyes to be had as Kate prepares to return to the East Coast in order to assist that other Hawkeye. The relationship she has with her parents is all but damaged beyond repair. At the end of the day, Masque will be free once again. Kate Bishop’s mission to Los Angeles was a failure. Hopefully, any future victories are just as enjoyable to read.