Marvel's Avengers movie is now only nine months away, so don't be shocked to see an array of related material on comic book stands from now until May 4, 2012.
One such project is the October-debuting Avengers: Solo, a five-issue miniseries adopting the same approximate format as the '80s comic Solo Avengers; with a main story starring Hawkeye and a back-up tale featuring another member of the team.
Jen Van Meter is the writer of the Hawkeye story that runs throughout all five issues, and is intent on living up to the "solo" part of the title.
"I don't really want to surround him with people he already knows," Van Meter said in a phone interview with Newsarama. "I'd kind of like to drop him into a situation where he really is isolated in a community of people he's got to deal with fresh for the first time."
Interior art from
Avengers Solo #1.In the story, Clint Barton is tasked with unraveling a murder mystery and a resulting conspiracy, which thrusts him into the unfamiliar role of sleuth as he tackles a problem he can't just shoots arrows at.
"I've never seen him cast as the detective, and that's never seemed really his strong suit, but I have always enjoyed watching him respond on the fly to stuff that he doesn't expect," Van Meter said. "It's a little bit like seeing someone you're very fond of excel at something they didn't know they could do."
Hawkeye has become a fan favorite over the years — remember the widespread outrage after his temporary death in Avengers Disassembled? — and Van Meter's enthusiasm for the character is clear, due in large part to his unique position as an unpowered human standing alongside a group of gods and icons.
"I am very drawn to his role as one of the people who are on the Avengers with no powers, because I think it takes a particular kind of confidence, and a particular kind of drive to be willing to be there when it would be so easy to say 'You've got Thor, you don't need me,'" Van Meter said. "I'm sort of fascinated by that interesting combination of courage and ego and ambition and confidence that have to be in place."
Interior art from
Avengers Solo #1.Though Hawkeye won't be joined by his Avengers teammates in Solo, several familiar Marvel villains play a part, as hired guns enlisted by the story's real bad guys. Among that number is the Trapster, a classic Marvel villain who has been ridiculed for much of his existence, for both his modus operandi (discharging glue at opponents in a variety of threatening ways) and his even-goofier original alias (Paste Pot Pete).
Van Meter took a serious approach to the character, resisting the temptation to simply use him as a walking punchline.
"He doesn't have to be a big goofball, if he doesn't act like one and Hawkeye doesn't treat him like one," the writer said. "This guy is a chemist, who had he decided to not pursue a life of crime, could probably have a hundred patents. He's a really smart guy. He must be so bitter and resentful."
Van Meter's most famous work is her Oni Press series Hopeless Savages, a down-to-Earth affair about a punk-rock family without a superhero in sight. Though she has prior Marvel experience from books like last year's Black Cat miniseries, she says that Avengers: Solo is much more of a straightforward action comic than anything in her bibliography, with a recently finished script clocking in at 16 pages of fight scenes out of 20.
Interior art from
Avengers Solo #1."I've never done anything like that before, and it surprised the heck out of me," Van Meter said, adding praise for Avengers: Solo artist Roger Robinson's ability to render the action.
This year Van Meter has contributed to both Thunderbolts and The Iron Age for Marvel, but admits that Avengers: Solo is still just slightly out of her comfort zone — but in a way she definitely appreciates.
"I've written guy lead books before. I've written action-y books before," Van Meter said. "I think if anything is intimidating, I don't think I knew how passionately people love Hawkeye until I started really looking at the character more closely for the purposes of this. I don't want to let them down."
Oh, and she's not afraid of Hawkeye's classic costume, either, as much as some might snicker.
"It has a certain regalness to it, and not just because it's purple," Van Meter said of the character's oft-mocked duds. "It looks a little bit like it goes with a calling more than functionality. It goes with the joy of the guy, that he not look too dour and grim."Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!