While done well with good storytelling and flashy artwork, Ultimate Comics: Hawkeye #1 seems to be little more than a side story in this new volume of the Ultimate Marvel Universe, as well as an attempt to flesh out one of the universe’s  more periphery characters.

This issue begins at the same time as Ultimates #1, a few moments before title character Hawkeye makes contact with General Nick Fury.  We see Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye, landing in the Southeast Asian Republic, getting a quick briefing of the situation, then being attacked, which is the reason his communication with the general was cut off.  It is at this point that we find out he was attacked by several Asian men with varying powers, who are part of a secret superhuman development program being funded by the S.E.A.R.  In conjunction with that program, there is a plan to neutralize many of the world’s super-powered heroes.  There are also a few more details to that plot which are quite nefarious, which I won’t spoil for anyone planning to read the series.

As with the Ultimates series, Hickman’s writing is good, but this story almost seems unnecessary to begin the new Ultimate universe.  Unless they decide to use the aspects of this plot later on in the Ultimate line, which doesn’t seem likely to happen based on the nature of the story and the other series soon being released, this is only a side plot to the major events happening in the Ultimates series.  This disappoints me a little because the Ultimate universe’s Hawkeye is a pretty dynamic and interesting character, and the potential is there to tell a really good story with him that ties directly into the deeper core fabric of the Ultimates storyline.  In my opinion, I feel as though it would have been better to establish a good strong foundation of Hawkeye with the Ultimates in this most recent volume of Ultimate Marvel continuity and then send him out on this side mission perhaps six to twelve months down the road.

As a veteran of the Ultimate universe, Rafa Sandoval’s art is nice and familiar.  For the most part the action moves smoothly and the style is very cinematic, with lots of low angle shots and a few extreme close-ups.  It almost feels as though you’re watching a movie as you flip the pages of this issue, and it really helps move the story along.

Overall, this first issue is entertaining, and it seems to set up a good premise for the rest of this mini-series, but it just doesn’t seem to fit in as an integral part in establishing the foundation for the universe.  I believe the new direction for the universe should have been established with the core books before trying to publish this mini-series as a side story, which it seems will have few, if any lasting effects in the Ultimate Marvel Universe.

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