Due to David Aja being a bit slow, Marvel have actually released Hawkeye #16 before #15, which is kind of confusing, but due to the current ‘1 Clint issue, 1 Kate issue’ schedule the book is one, doesn’t really matter too much, as we aren’t missing out on any important plot details at all, not that Hawkeye as a series really has plot details in general.
This issue continues Kate Bishop’s misadventures as a Private Eye in Los Angeles, and whilst it was an enjoyable read full of the usual funny moments, it didn’t come together as well as most issues of Hawkeye do, and it felt less like an actual story and more like Matt Fraction wanting to tell us all about how much he loves The Beach Boys and why we should love them too. Fraction has done similar stuff to this issue in Casanova, and it worked far better there, which means I’m not quite sure this particular music-reference heavy story didn’t come off as well. Perhaps it’s because, in Casanova, the Bowie references are surrounded by loads of time-travelly, science-fiction nonsense, where as here, the tone is very realistic, so it doesn’t seem quite so inventive. I dunno, either way, this issue did feel a little bit self-indulgent, but as I’ve said before, self-indulgence is not necessarily a bad thing.
The plot here is actually pretty simple, Kate is cycling along the highway in LA, where she comes across a rambling homeless person in the middle of the road. She takes him to her neighbour’s house, where it is revealed that this guy is actually Will Bryson, a thinly-veiled homage to Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys. Bryson had been driven slightly mad by drugs and mental illness, and also by trying to complete his magnum opus, ‘Wish’, that he’s been trying, and failing, to complete since the 1960s. All of this will be very familiar to music fans, as Wish is basically Brian Wilson’s near-mythical ‘Smile’. Bryson’s latest psychotic break came when someone stole some of his work-in-progress tracks and leaked them onto the Internet. Bryson believes that the leak was his brother’s doing, but before Kate can find out more, his Nurses come and take him back. I liked the fact that Bryson’s Nurses are meant to be somehow related to the Bellboys Kate has tangled with in the past, it looks like she has her very own Tracksuit Draculas.
Kate decides to try and help out Bryson, and she stumbles her way through somehow, much like last issue. She goes to the Library, gets in trouble for asking for help to illegally download music, receives a lecture from that Cop again, and takes a ride on a ‘Star Bus’ tour guide to find out where Bryson lives. As ever, Fraction’s inner monologue for Kate straddles the line between being awesome and incredibly annoying, especially with the variety of ‘Kate’ puns she uses. Kate certainly has a unique personality that shines through here, although once again, her old-fashionedness still rings a bit false. Inside Bryson’s house, she distracts the Nurses with a hilarious Champions reference, and finds Bryson again, who gives her a tour of his studio, but before long, the Nurses are back. After a surprisingly brutal beating, Kate is taken to see Bryson’s dying brother, and we find out that, yep, he leaked the songs, and that’s pretty much it.
This issue had a weird ending, as Kate didn’t really end up doing anything, she really is a terrible PI. After another appearance from the ghost of Philip Marlowe, we find out that Bryson’s brother died naturally, and because of that, Bryson seems to have found peace with himself, and is playing tracks from ‘Wish’ live. Kate goes to see him, and basically feels good about herself, despite the fact that again, she didn’t really do anything. Of course, that happiness is short-lived, as whilst she’s at the gig, Madame Masque (I assume) sneaks up behind her and intimidates her, which was a cool way of tying this rambling issue around to the main thrust of Kate’s stories.
I did somewhat enjoy this issue, especially Annie Wu’s art, which just gets better and better, I love the way she draws Kate’s facial expressions. I do like that I can pick up a Marvel superhero comic and have it be about something totally unexpected like The Beach Boys, but I did feel this issue was lacking. Perhaps the references were too much, perhaps it’s the fact that Kate is so terrible at her job, I don’t know, but after this, I am looking forward to returning to Clint’s story. I think this book thrives on trying new things, and here, it wasn’t really doing anything new, just referencing stuff in the same setting as #14.