Fans were first introduced to Kate Bishop, Young Avenger and Hawkeye extraordinaire, in 2005. Now, over a decade later, she's getting her own Hawkeye series without sharing the spotlight. But why only now? We spoke to Hawkeye writer Kelly Thompson to discuss where Kate Bishop is headed in Marvel's comic universe. Hawkeye, written by Thompson (A-Force, Jem and the Holograms, Power Rangers: Pink) and with art by Leonardo Romero and Jordie Bellaire, finds Kate away from the epicentre of the clash between Captain Marvel and Iron Man on the West Coast, away from Hawkeye and away from her former teammates. But while Kate hasn't hung up her quiver, she's not venturing to LA just as a superhero — she's on a case with personal stakes, and entering the world of private investigation in the city of Angels.
Check out our full interview with Kelly Thompson below, as well as an exclusive look at a new Julian Totino Tedesco cover for the first issue and design work by Leonardo Romero, making their debut here.
Where does Kate Bishop find herself going into this new Hawkeye series?
Kelly Thompson: Hawkeye finds Kate back in LA — Venice Beach, specifically, trying to make a go of things as a PI slash superhero. She's there on a personal mission that's a bit of a mystery, but as always with superheroes she gets caught up in doing some good, and as always with PIs there's a dame with nice stems involved!
It's been over a decade since Kate first appeared in Young Avengers. Why do you think now the right time for her to (finally) get to be the lead in her own series?
Thompson: I think the critically acclaimed (and beloved!) Matt Fraction, David Aja, Annie Wu Hawkeye series where Kate was a co-star and Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie's celebrated Young Avengers run really helped remind people what a great character Kate Bishop is (and what a great Hawkeye she is) and really pushed her forward and levelled up her character development. The next natural and obvious step was for Kate to be taking centre stage in her own book. And it was just fortuitous timing that the Kate book we were developing wound up being the only solo "Hawkeye" book.
Leonardo Romero's original concept work for Kate's new look. Image provided by Marvel.
What's it been like working with Leonardo Romero on this book?
Thompson: I've said before that one of the great perks of being a comic book writer is that opening up your email inbox is like Christmas. But developing Hawkeye with Leonardo has been like X-Treme Christmas (forgive the X-Men pun, couldn't resist). Every time I check my email there are so many incredible character designs and world building sketches. Just fantastic stuff. We're very lucky because Leo has a really great style for Kate, who's a more down to earth hero (comparatively) but he's also a great fit for the PI noir angle - not every artist can merge those two concepts so seamlessly.
But while we're raving about art let's also mention that we've got Eisner-award winning colourist Jordie Bellaire and we're extremely lucky. I've been dying to work with Jordie since before I started working in comics and I'm excited it's finally coming together. And Jordie and Leo are big fans of each other too… it's a big love fest basically. Our editors Sana Amanat and Charles Beacham will probably just have to keep us from slobbering all over one another all the time (via email of course… nobody lives close enough for IRL slobbering).
How has Civil War II — particularly the fallout over Clint's trial — affected Kate's outlook in this series? She's always loved being a superhero, but is she disillusioned by her fellow heroes' actions?
Thompson: I don't think she's disillusioned so much as just emotionally a bit spent by it and feeling like she needs a clean break from things. Also feeling a bit like she needs to prove to everyone, perhaps most notably herself, that she can stand on her own.
Marvel Now! Preview art for Hawkeye #1, by Leonardo Romero and Jean-Francois Beaulieu.
This is really one of the first times we're going to see Kate on her own. Given so much of her backstory is tied up in teams like the Young Avengers or her relationship with Clint Barton, what's it been like getting to give her some alone time?
Thompson: I think Kate's got such a strong and singular voice, even when she's in a group, that once you tap into that voice as a writer, she just sorta bosses you around and tells you what she wants to do. Our series is definitely a spiritual successor to what Matt Fraction and Annie Wu began when they brought Kate to LA. We're definitely doing our own thing, but they absolutely laid the groundwork for where we wanted to take Kate. It was the next logical step.
That said, fans have long-loved the friendship (and not-so-subtle flirting) between Kate and America Chavez. Any chance we get to see them together again in this series?
Thompson: I love the Kate-America friendship, so yes, I'm going to do everything I can to get her in the book. Editor Sana Amanat and I have already talked about what that arc should look like, but I don't like to over promise. You'd be surprised how quickly the landscape can change on these things. I've been burned before!
What can you tell us about the sort of threats Kate will be facing on the West Coast?
Thompson: When I was pitching I initially described Kate's book as Veronica Mars with superheroes, and though a lot has changed since pitching, I think that still sums us up pretty well. Kate will be taking on PI cases — both her own personal mission that brought her back to LA, and the clients she finds — but you can't take the superhero out of Kate, nor would we want to. She's an archer first and foremost. One of the really fun things about Kate as both archer and PI has been seeing the way that those skill sets naturally overlap. Being an archer makes Kate a better PI, and being a PI makes Kate a better superhero.
Hawkeye #1 cover by Julian Totino Tedesco. Image provided by Marvel.
Marvel has come under some criticism recently for not diversifying its creative talent in the way it's made steps to diversify its fictional world. As a female creator now working on two of their female-led series, is there anything you'd like to see more of in the companies' roster, creatively or in terms of characters, that you feel might be underrepresented at the moment?
Thompson: I think comics are a surprisingly tricky thing. Having worked as a critic for years before I started writing comics, I understand the business differently now than I did before. I still feel really frustrated by how slow the process is, but I understand it better. I think Marvel is making a lot of interesting moves and takes a lot of risks these days in the more "unconventional" books that it chooses to publish and supports even when the audience size doesn't quite seem to be there yet, and I hope they continue to do that. The best way to build and grow that audience that I know Marvel wants is to have something wonderful for them to read, but that takes time and plenty of failures to get right. I think the audience is right to keep pushing on publishers to do better, and I think Marvel is doing their best to answer that call. I am a very strong believer that creator diversity is the best chance to organically develop a comics line that feels progressive and like the future, so I hope Marvel continues to push forward in this way. These things are trial and error but as long as they keep trying I'm optimistic.
You have so much going on between this, A-Force, Jem, Misfits, Mega Princess — but I can't help but ask: Is there anyone else in particular you'd love to get your hands on? Assuming you had the time?
Thompson: Yes, I've had a very lucky year! But like every greedy jerk I always want more… what would that more be? Well, I'm dying for someone at Marvel let me do my long gestating Mad Max/X-Men project that I've literally been tinkering with since I was in high school (and I am not going to tell you how long ago that was)! Rogue would be the star of that little project, though there are lots of other juicy roles to go around too.
I also have an idea I love for a Dazzler mini-series and as anyone that follows me on Twitter knows, I'd love to get my hands on Elsa Bloodstone for more than just the three issues she's in for A-Force. I'd say I want to get my hands on Nextwave, but let's be real, we all just want Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen to get their hands back on Nextwave! I've also been kicking around a super off the wall comedy project called Not Wolverine that stars three characters that are… you guessed it, Not Wolverine. I hope someday someone at Marvel will be insane enough to let me try that one. But mostly I just hope that Marvel (and the fans) continue to like my work and continue to let me play in their world. I'm having a really good time!
Hawkeye #1 hits shelves this December.