Best Shots Review: OCCUPY AVENGERS #1 'A Socially-Minded Take On Superheroism'

"Occupy Avengers #1" preview
Credit: Marvel Comics
Credit: Augustin Alessio (Marvel Comics)

Occupy Avengers #1
Written by David F. Walker
Art by Carlos Pacheco, Rafael Fonteriz and Sonia Oback
Lettering by Clayton Cowles
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

Credit: Carlos Pacheco (Marvel Comics)

Clint Barton takes aim at social problems in Occupy Avengers #1. Writer David F. Walker, no stranger to tackling societal ills with comic book characters, uproots Hawkeye and sends him walkabout, righting wrongs from state to state as he struggles with the emotional fallout of his trial. Providing a visual road map are penciler Carlos Pacheco, inker Rafael Fonteriz, and colorist Sonia Oback, all of whom provide dusty all too real depictions of reservation life peppered with expressive characters and rousing action. Though self-imposed exile is usually a sign of sluggish and sanctimonious storytelling Occupy Avengers #1 makes Clint’s feel vital and fun in equal measure.

Though the social justice-themed hook of the title has garnered all the attention thus far, readers will be happy to learn that David F. Walker’s evolution of Clint Barton is what truly sells said hook. Though the shadow of Civil War II looms heavily over Clint in this debut, Walker’s characterization is still very much in line with Matt Fraction and David Aja’s, though on a much grander scale. Still the champion of the little guy, Clint has taken it upon himself to pull a Caine from Kung Fu and travel the country fighting injustice. Though Walker’s Clint is a bit more ruthless and emotionally fraught nowadays, this is still the same man who sees newspaper headlines as cries for help, making him the perfect character for this kind of plot.

Credit: Carlos Pacheco (Marvel Comics)

Which brings us to the plot itself which manages to be both fun and sharply topical. After traveling to New Mexico to investigate an Native American reservation’s contaminated water, Clint finds himself teaming up with Red Wolf against a machine gun-wielding private militia. Walker’s inclusion of Red Wolf gives Clint a formidable partner in the field and stoic foil that personalizes his latest bout with injustice. Walker’s narration-heavy script gives the reader a clear look into Clint’s thinking as he throws himself into harm’s way, both for the good of the people and the clearing of his own conscious. It is this detail that makes Occupy Avengers such a personal feeling book; Clint is using his “trip” as a way to turn his guilt into good and I am very curious to see how Walker allows that to turn out for him and the other allies he gains along the way.

Adding to the humanist feel of this debut is the art team of Carlos Pacheco, Rafael Fonteriz, and Sonia Oback. Pacheco’s cinematic style, given further definition thanks to Fonteriz’s inks, suits the grounded story well, selling both the emotions at play in the story and the rough and tumble action of the issue’s main set piece which shows Hawkeye being chased by a fleet of Jeeps and Red Wolf taking one out with a single throw of his hatchet. Stocked with easy-to-follow panel layouts and naturalistic facial expressions, Pacheco makes the sun-baked setting and the cast pop from the page without overdoing it or trying to crowbar needless visual flair into the pages.

Credit: Carlos Pacheco (Marvel Comics)

Pacheco also has another fantastic ally in the form of colorist Sonia Oback. Oback’s colors capture perfectly the nickel plated shine of a rural diner and the burned out ambers and reds of reservation life, giving visual language to the duality between being on and off the reservation, stressing to the reader the plight of the town. She even downshifts nicely in the action sequence with a starry black sky and calming blues, punctuated with stark yellow and red explosions. All three artists turn in great work with this debut, making it look good while still engaging in restraint.

By focusing on Clint’s underdog for the people persona and presenting a real world-inspired plot, Occupy Avengers #1 gives Hawkeye and Red Wolf a topical showcase worthy of their idealism. David F. Walker’s socially-minded take on superheroism coupled with the grounded artwork from Carlos Pacheco, Rafael Fonteriz, and Sonia Oback give new meaning to the old Marvel tendency to show “the world just outside your window." While contaminated water may not be as deadly as Ultron or as bombastic as Thanos, Occupy Avengers #1 shows that the little fights are just as important.

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