Review by Ian Keogh
During her earlier association with Clint Barton, Kate Bishop made an enemy of gangster Madame Masque. Given her career, it’s perhaps not surprising she’s a woman who can hold a grudge, and the people who Kate met at the end of Anchor Points were working for her.
Sometimes it can be the case that when a writer picks up a character they shoot their bolt early. Every idea they have is packed into the opening volume, and the series drops off rapidly thereafter. Thankfully that’s not the case for Kelly Thompson and Hawkeye, as Masks is a slightly better collection of stories than the high standard set by the first. That established Kate as a likeable young woman who knew right from wrong and was determined to do right, even at the cost of telling people things they didn’t want to hear. In Masks Thompson adds greater depth by working more with Kate’s background. She was a privileged child who only discovered in her teens that the family lifestyle was financed by her father’s occupation as a gangster. That heartbreaking heritage was revealed earlier, and while Kate’s father has already featured, Thompson delves further into what may or may not have happened to her mother. No-one’s really prepared to supply any answers.
Leonardo Romero draws the flattest packet of frozen broccoli ever seen in comics (and possibly the only one), but if that’s what he’s being marked down for then pretty well everything else must be okay. It’s actually more than okay. He really puts the effort into the action scenes (see sample art) and supplies a complete environment for Kate’s life. Ensuring the art looks fantastic is Jordie Bellaire, whose colouring is astounding. It really comes to life in brighter scenes, but via their contrast they also highlight the realism she brings to the ordinary day to day scenes. Once again Michael Walsh draws an episode, and once again he’s excellent also.
Cloning features prominently in Masks, notwithstanding the already established danger of the technology, and the question of whether or not Kate will develop super powers is thrown into the mix. She seems to be doing just fine without them, seeming to combine the combat skills of Captain America and an eye for accuracy comparable to Bullseye as well as her formidable archery techniques.
It might be the promise of superhero action that lures you into Masks, but it’s the sympathetic cast interaction that ensures you stay. You’ll want to read the easygoing dramatic scenes of Kate and her pals as much as you’ll want to see the outcome of her cases. The family issues are far from resolved here, and continue into Family Reunion, which also features a reunion with Clint Barton.