So it was certainly an interesting change of pace when this volume of the Hawkeye comic book series decided to shift focus away from Barton and onto Bishop. After all, this is a comic about Hawkeye after all - so why not tell the stories of all Hawkeyes as well?
By now readers of the comic know quite well that Kate Bishop is pretty awesome on her own. She has been quite the scene-stealer in the various issues of this series thus far and this story arc really felt like quite the celebration of all the fan support for her character.
Synopsis: Hawkeye Vol. 3 - L.A. Woman is a compilation of the 2012 edition of the Hawkeye comic book series written by Matt Fraction. This issue covers a somewhat odd number of issues part of this one arc.
Kate Bishop together with Pizza Dog find themselves all the way in Los Angeles as Kate decides a change in scene is in order in order to get away from the drama of the life of one Clint Barton. And yes, the dog totally went with her all the way to the West Coast. But things don't go too well in L.A. since all of her things get stolen shortly after they arrive. But at least Kate manages to make a few friends who held her find a place to stay together with Pizza Dog.
But little does she know that one of her new "friends" in Los Angeles is actually the infamous Madame Masque, someone she and Hawkeye had faced in earlier issues. And while Kate doesn't recognize her without her signature gold mask, she certainly had no challenge identifying who Kate was. And naturally she has her own plans for revenge against the humiliation she had suffered because of Kate.
At first, it feels like this story arc is meant to be a light one - sort of the equivalent of a side-story you get as one of the fluff stories in a multi-story comic book annual. Seriously, this story even had the dog. And the art style certainly felt quite retro - something like a 1970's feel or something. It all sets things up to provide that feel of getting away from the action for readers.
But in truth, this actually turned out to be a compelling little adventure piece that felt very much like a spy thriller set out in the West Coast. We already got a taste of Kate's skills in espionage within the Hawkeye series. This really pushed things further, although for the most part it was Madame Masque with the big plan.
And as much as mentioning her involvement in this comic may feel like a bit of a spoiler, at the same time it's something I had to bring up since it was so central to the story. In addition, we actually spend a fair amount of time with her as a character and we get a somewhat better understanding of her side of the criminal world and what exactly she's trying to accomplish here. Sure, most of her plot is merely revenge against Kate, but she's not quite 1-dimensional either, so give her some credit.
And this story really celebrates some of the best thing about Kate - the fact that she's such a driven and resourceful individual, even whens he's not wielding a bow. Sure, her archery skills certainly helped make her a true "Hawkeye" with respect to the core character, but really she's a tough girl who knows how to talk her way out (and often into) trouble. And I loved seeing her deal with everything Mamade Masque had to throw at her with little more her wits to see her through.
And of course this story had Pizza Dog. We can never get enough of Pizza Dog. I want more Pizza Dog.
Hawkeye Vol. 3 - L.A. Woman was a surprising yet pleasant change of pace and a nice way for the comic to move forward. It's a lot easier to read this arc all in one go as opposed to the original publishing order which had this this tale alternating with Hawkeye's story. But L.A. Woman gets 4 bellboy goons out of a possible 5.