Thursday, February 26, 2015

My Year With Marvel: Kate Bishop

Two orange-tinted panels. In the first, a bald blank man with a goatee says, 'Case--? Take this case--? I'm sorry, are you-- Are you a private detective or...' In the second panel, a pale skinned, dark-haired girl says, 'Even better. I'm a super hero.'

Y’all know how it is. You meet a fictional character and it's like, wow. You laugh at their jokes, cry when they’re hurt, grin like an idiot when they succeed at literally anything, and cringe when they mess up because you know they can do better.

Eventually, you grow impatient with any scene in which they don’t appear. "Now see here, book (or show)," you say to the page (or screen) before you. "This simply won’t do. You’re going to have to give me more of my favourite, or there’ll be hell to pay."

If you’re lucky, your chosen character has a history going back ten years or more, so the page (or screen) is quick to oblige. You can wallow in them.

I’m currently smitten with Kate Bishop (light of my heart; breath in my lungs). And I’m pretty durned lucky.

I first met Kate in the pages of Matt Fraction and David Aja’s HAWKEYE, which we talked about last week. All around Marvel lackwit that I was at the time, I’d never heard of her. She was Hawkeye, the comic told me. Not the male one you know from the movies (or any one of the core Avengers comics). The other one.

"Hmm," I said. "Tell me more."

The comic did, and I drank it down quick as Marvel Unlimited would let me.

Kate Bishop is young. She’s rich. She’s pretty well an Avenger. She doesn’t take crap, which makes her a perfect foil to crap-handing Clint Barton. She cares about you, because you’re a person and you don’t deserve to be hurt and she will do everything in her power to ensure you aren’t. When things get rough (ex, when ninjas attack, or when all her money and her pile of predominantly purple stuff is stolen), she rolls with the punches and finds a way to turn a bad situation to her advantage.

She’ll find your missing orchids. She’ll hunt the slimeball who wronged you to the ends of the earth (or, like, as far as she can get on her purple bicycle). No case is too small for Kate Bishop because hey, helping people is what she does.

Also, it's not like she's helping you just for money, but she's got to eat so if you could maybe slip a little something her way...?

Glorious buttercup that she is, Kate does have her flaws. She grew up with wealth and privilege, and she doesn't always understand what it's like for people who didn't. She embarks on her summer of unexpected pauperdom in the firm knowledge that she can return to her father’s moneyed world when she’s through. She has a tendency to expect handouts (though she’s quick to find another solution once she realizes they aren’t coming). She cares about Clint Barton, her partner in Hawkeyedom, but she fails to recognize his depression as something that harms him even more deeply than it inconveniences her.

She's got stuff to overcome is what I'm saying, but I have every confidence in her ability to do so.

I loved her from the start, but HAWKEYE’S third arc, L.A. WOMAN (written by Fraction; drawn by Annie Wu and Javier Pullido), launched my Kate Bishop obsession into orbit. It left me with a desperate need to trace her entire career, so I headed back to the start with Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung’s YOUNG AVENGERS.

I was nervous. I was scared. What if Kate was only awesome when she sprung from Fraction’s pen? What if--horror of horrors--I didn’t like how her own creators handled her?

She was on my Highly Exclusive List of Favourite Literary Characters by the end of volume one. Goodbye, needless worry.

Kate’s awesomeness transcends such petty concerns as who’s writing or drawing her. (Or perhaps she’s been lucky enough to attract only writers and artists worthy of her). She’s amazing, pure and simple. Her humour, her resolve, and her ever-improving talent shine through even when she’s underutilized, as is the case during the various Young Avengers/Runaways crossovers.

Or maybe I'm just hopelessly biased towards Kate Bishop.

I mean, I basically just want to go up to random people on the street be all, "Hey, have you heard of Kate Bishop? You’d like her! She’s amazing!"

Since that sort of thing isn't socially acceptable, I confine most of my pro-Kate Bishop propaganda to Twitter. I try not to tweet about her fifteen times a day, I swear, but if you follow me (@xicanti) you'll have noticed I sometimes lose the fight.

I love her to bits, y’all. I think you should read HAWKEYE and YOUNG AVENGERS so we can jump up and down together as we squeal, "But Kate Bishop, though!"

Okay? Okay.


You want to meet Kate Bishop, yes? While I advocate your local library as the absolute best place for you to do so, as always, I recognize that might not be an option for every last one of you. If you need another way to experience the wonder and glory that is Kate Bishop, you can try:

I receive a small portion of the purchase price if you buy the book(s) through Kobo, The Book Depsoitory, or Amazon.


  1. Even though I didn't fall for Hawkeye in the way I hoped (I suspect I was missing too much context), I was thinking just the other day that I should probably go on with the series anyway, just in case it eventually clicks. The fact that the third arc promises more Kate pretty much seals the deal. I shall report back!

    1. I don't think HAWKEYE requires a lot of context--I knew very little about the non-X-Men side of the Marvel Universe when I first read it--so maybe it just wasn't your thing. The third volume is all Kate, all the time, though, so I have to recommend it on those grounds.

    2. People have told me that before, but I honestly felt lost so much of the time when reading it, and there were so many reasons why it *should* have been my thing. I mean, pizza dog! We'll see how I fare with LA Woman.

    3. Pizza Dog goes to L.A. with Kate, so you have him to look forward to! She also looks after a persnickety cat who'll only eat one type of cat food.

    4. Aw, damn, Ana! I am sad that you did not love Hawkeye. You truly don't need much context for it, so it may be that it just wasn't the right comic for you. Definitely, it's got a lot of structural weirdness, but I loved the art and the characters so much that I didn't mind. Even the first trade paperback you didn't care for?

    5. In case Ana doesn't see this, she did read L.A. WOMAN this past week, and she told me it got a thumbs up from her. So that's good!

  2. .... I need Marvel Unlimited. :(

    1. I need the Canadian dollar to improve so I can wholeheartedly push you to subscribe. :(