For a while now, I have been loving Matt Fraction’s take on Kate Bishop in Hawkeye. She is tough, but he doesn’t make the mistake that so many writers do of taking away all her femininity. We have seen her go toe-to-toe with bad guys, risk her life to go behind enemy lines, put Clint in his place, and retain an impeccable sense of both humor and fashion. She is badass.
Once I saw her driving a purple Volkswagen Beetle, I realized, in my eyes at least; she is the Annie Hall of comic books. She is a girl I would totally have a beer with (my criteria for whether I like a character or not involves the shared consumption of alcoholic beverages, its a very highbrow technique for analysis).
Unfortunately something slipped in the most recent issue. At first I couldn’t quite put my finger on the problem, but after revisiting it, I realized what happened. Fraction had started making fun of her, which is fine, but here, it didn’t feel like she was in on the joke. Its unfortunate for the creative team that they put her story side by side with Clint’s, because the disparity between the treatment of the characters crystalizes due to that format. While Hamm seems a promising artist, something about his work here exasperated the problem for me.
While Clint is selflessly accompanying a tenant of his building to see about his father, Kate is going to a silly engagement party. I do not infer that the party is silly, the creative team has told me as much, through the ridiculous wording of the invitation and the caricature of Kate swooning over it. (When I look at this image I hear the opening lines of Pride and Prejudice, and not in a good way hawkguys) When she tries to tell Clint about the party, he responds, “Yeah I don’t care,” and as charming and on-point as that is; it sucks for Kate’s character. I think she needed, or deserved a chance to tell us why she is braving hell and high water (literally) to go to this thing. I am not saying we need a long-winded explanation, just something other than: she is a girl, and girl’s love weddings. I don’t necessarily need Kate to be sagely, burdened by emotional baggage, or full of deep brooding feelings. She is perfect the way she is. The guys should respect what they have created enough to let her speak for herself. Kate can love weddings; she can want to go catch up with an old friend; she might just want to go see what everyone there is wearing. That’s all fine, just let her be a character with a motivation instead of a stereotype with a silly hat.
She is also referred to as Clint’s ‘ward,’ which she disapproves of, and given an opportunity to show her ineptitude and silliness; by giving Clint Scotch tape to close a box of canned goods.
I would like to take a moment to remind you that this is the woman who drove the car in the third issue of the series, she saved Clint’s ass a few times, and now she does not understand the function of self adhesive sealing implements.
When Kate first appears in her “bridesmaid to-be dress” I thought, ‘that looks like a bridesmaid’s dress from 1978,’ only to realize that it is supposed to be a designer piece of couture that she loves. Would the same woman who wears an asymmetrical purple jumpsuit flawlessly, or dons that stunning gown in issue 2, touch this dress? Let alone lament its demise? If the guys at Hawkeye are going to make fashion a part of Kate’s character (which they evidently are *see mention of two designers by name in issue 7) then they themselves should take the time to see it through, and make it believable. Otherwise its just a ‘bitches love shoes’ joke, and really who needs more of those in their life? (Imagine if a female writer did that to quickly characterized a man in a story, “that new quarterback is great on defense,’ he said”)
I wish they hadn’t chosen Kate as the vehicle of the, ‘everyone can be a hero,’ message in this story. After being made to look like a silly immature girl in the exposition, she should get to prove her metal in the end. I would have forgiven a lot then. Instead, her bravery looks like foolishness. As she confronts the thugs in the pharmacy, she decides to impersonate a Batman villain, talking through a crucial strategy point. After being knocked out cold by a can of baked beans. She wakes up to find the good people of New Jersey have all come together to save her ass.
This is a triumphant moment… for the people of New Jersey (especially the one holding hedge clippers,) but Kate fails so completely. You have to wonder how she holds it together posing as super villains and facing off against hordes of circus-trained cronies, when she cannot manage a couple of looters in a pharmacy.
I lived through Katrina, I know how beautiful and wonderful people can prove to be when they band together after a tragedy. My father-in-law and his buddies took pirogues down to New Orleans and pulled people off rooftops. Trust me, this a inspiring thing that needs to be said. People do rise to the occasion. I am just so disappointed that they used Kate to say it.
Guys, you have made a wonderful female character. She is dynamic. She is an individual. She has her own interests. Don’t lose her. I cannot wait to eat my words after the next issue.