Kate Bishop (Hawkeye)

Created by Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung
P.I. version developed by Kelly Thompson

Original “Hawkeye” created by Stan Lee and Don Heck

“Ugh. Barf.”
— Kate reacts to a stalker’s claim
that he’s in love with his victim.

In the ca-ching-ca-ching world of Marvel and DC superheroes, a character’s back story is forever malleable, vulnerable to marketing demographics, shifting political and cultural norms and sheer ego and caprice, no matter how incongruous or silly. And faithful readers and consistency be damned. In such elastic realms, anyone can–or might already have been–a private eye.

Or a wombat, for that matter.

Or a clone of a wombat on Earth 2.

Case in point: Hawkeye, the Marvel version of DC’s Green Arrow, also an arrow-toting superhero archer, is now a private eye.

But noooooo!!!

Not that HAWKEYE, the one whom we’ve known as Clint Barton created by writer Stan Lee and artist Don Heck back in the sixties. Not the one who was “The World’s Greatest Marksman,” the sometime-loner and sometime-Avenger. Not the one played by Jeremy Renner in the endless glut of Marvel movies currently clogging our cinematic arteries.

Nope, not that Hawkeye.

The Hawkeye we’re talking about is KATE BISHOP. The new Hawkeye. Or at least the newest as of this writing. She was even given her own book in 2016, where she worked the mean streets, back alleys and Coppertone-reeking, sand-coated promenades of Venice Beach in Los Angeles, trying to make a go of it as a private eye/superhero.

Uh-huh…

“Like, who’s that chick following me, dressed all in purple, carrying a longbow? Could it be the same chick I saw a half hour ago at the tattoo place? And yesterday at the mall? Or maybe it’s another chick, just happens to be dressed all in purple, carrying a longbow? Mmmm… yeah, you’re right, it’s probably just a coincidence. Couldn’t be the same girl, right?”

But forget about all that. The backstory for this new version of Hawkeye is that Kate is the daughter of wealthy publishing magnate Derek Bishop. When she’s kidnapped, it’s the Avengers — and specifically Hawkeye (Clint Barton) — who come to her rescue. Impressed by the fact that Clint’s a regular guy with no super powers at all and relies solely on skills he taught himself, he becomes her role model. Eventually, she joins Young Avengers, and takes on the Hawkeye mantle, at Captain America’s urging (Clint being MIA at the time — don’t ask), becoming only the third character (and first woman) to do so.

And eventually some other crazy Marvel-type stuff happens: Civil Wars, Secret Wars, shape-shifting Skrulls, Krees, whatever. The Young Avengers are disbanded, and several of them–including Kate–become full-fledged Avengers.

But that was then–this is now.

In this latest incarnation, young Kate shucks all that high-flying spandex jive for California, opening a detective agency right near the beach. Not that she’s entirely shucked the superhero gig–it doesn’t take much urging for her to don her Hawkeye duds and reach for the bow. And she hasn’t exactly dropped all contact with the rest of the Marvel Universe, either. She still pals around with Clint (who’s returned from wherever, and is also using the Hawkeye monicker), Captain America still vouches for her, and fellow P.I. Jessica Jones is one of her besties.

Judging from the first issue (Hawkeye #1, December 2016), P.I., Kate’s far more prone to cheeky wisecracks and an almost giddy love of the game rather than Jessica’s angsty, boozy soul searching. Series scribe Kelly Thompson describes the tone as “Veronica Mars with superheroes,” with the cover tagging Kate as “the adorable archer”!

But the comparisons with Mars may be wishful thinking — the snarkiness is definitely there, but the edgy darkness that permeated Veronica’s world is replaced in this series by a gleeful giddiness and endearing goofiness more reminiscent of the earliest, gee-whiz! incarnation of Robin the Boy Wonder (or maybe Archie Comics), and while Veronica Mars may have seemed like the world’s wisest and most mature teenager at times, Kate comes off as an awfully naive young twenty-something, enjoying her life just a little too much.

Which is either part of the problem — or charm — of this new version.

Depends how you butter your bread.

The series lasted for sixteen issues, with Thompson taking over the writing for Jessica Jones, after Brian Michael Bendis left Marvel.

But there’s apparently life in the ol’ gal yet. Kate is set to pop up in November 2021 in the holiday-themed Disney+ mini-series Hawkeye, which follows family man Clint’s struggles to have a nice quiet Christmas with his family while the city is under attack from various nefarious forces, only to discover that there’s a new super-archer in town. I’m not sure if Kate (played by Hailee Steinfeld) is a private eye or not in this one, but for the first time in a long while, I’m looking forward to seeing something with Marvel stamped on it.

COMICS

  • YOUNG AVENGERS
    (2005, Marvel Comics)
    Kate Bishop created by Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung

    • “Sidekicks, Part One”(April 2005, #1)
      First appearance of Kate Bishop
    • “Family Matters, Part 4” (August 2006, #12)
      First appearance of Kate Bishop as Hawkeye
  • HAWKEYE
    (2016-18, Marvel Comics)
    16 issues
    Based on characters created by Stan Lee and Don Heck
    Written by Kelly Thompson
    Artists:Leonard Romero, Jordie Bellaire
    Kate heads for California, the sunshine and the beach, and a new career as a P.I./superhero.

COLLECTIONS

TELEVISION

  • HAWKEYE
    (2021, Disney+)
    Mini-series
    8 episodes
    Premiere: November 24, 2021
    Based on characters created by Don Heck and Stan Lee
    Writers: Jonathan Igla , Tanner Bean, Katrina Mathewson
    Directors: Rhys Thomas, Bert
    Starring Jeremy Renner as CLINT BARTON (HAWKEYE)
    and Hailee Steinfeld as KATE BISHOP
    Also starring Florence Pugh, Vera Farmiga, Zahn McClarnon, Brian d’Arcy James, Tony Dalton, Alaqua Cox

FURTHER INVESTIGATION

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

 

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