When the SEAR (Southeast Asian Republic) started creating super soldiers and getting themselves taken over by them, Nick Fury sent in Hawkeye, some mutants and the Hulk to steal the secret of mutant making. Hawkeye and the Hawkettes get more than they bargained for as the super soldiers, known as The People, create a safe haven for all persons changed and kick the everloving crap outta anybody who threatens that, Hulks included.
I cannot say I know much about the history of the regular universe Hawkeye, but I love the crap outta the Ultimate universe version and feel he has not gotten any justice as a character since Ultimates 2 waaaaaay back when he was pulling off his own fingernails and killing people with them. I have to admit, though, with all the trauma and beating they put him through, he became a bit of a butt monkey over time, with his main story arch for the last few years mandated with the word “Tortured.”
And that’s what made the changes here so interesting. Instead of “teh sad guy who had his family killed and he’s gonna make the world pay” he was in Ultimates 3, we get a soldier Clint Barton, reminiscent of the Hurt Locker (and a good take on Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye if that’s what inspired this welcome change), a soldier with a ton of baggage that lives to do the job. The jarring aspects of him being an analogous to 616 Bullseye is also good, as the two characters have pretty similar power bases (they throw stuff good and don’t miss). Again, the Hawkeye we get here is a great character, a guy that could be a full on villain without the devotion to the job and that makes him way more interesting than a moody bastard teetering on the edge of villainy.
The overall plot excels here, something that does not always happen in books that are made to lead to big events. This book was set to set up most of the other Ultimate Comics titles with world changing events, to kick off the changes by showing the global power bases and the differing beliefs on heroes, mutants and big grey guys that beat the s&^t outta things. It could have been a throw away story, but with the hero at the center just doing his job, we get a rich tale of espionage in a complicated world that can only get more and more grey.
The ethical concerns of superheroes in this universe are the underlying themes. What makes a hero? This question succeeds in greying of the question Marvel’s Civil War asked years ago “Whose side are you on?” By centering the action in a yin-yang utopia where everyone can be made equal, we get the answer: there are only the sides you choose to see. The creation and nearly perfect description of The People and their ideologies in this only strengthen the fight with Reed Richards and his Children of Tomorrow that follows in the Ultimates books that follow this story.
Overall, I am very impressed with this four issue run. It set up the new world order of the Ultimate Marvel universe, asked brilliant questions about the nature of soldiers versus heroes, and did it with style and humor. If you have not read Ultimate Comics, start here.