Do I really need to talk about the Hawkeye covers any more at this point? They're brilliantly minimalistic and some of the most amazing ones Marvel is putting out. This one's not my favorite, but it's still so damn good. In addition to the front cover, scattered about this issue are various mock covers be guest artist Annie Wu. They have a totally different tone, one resembling many old-school comics of a wide variety. They kind of caption the story as it goes along, and they serve an interesting kind of meta purpose to the story as well. Despite that, I'm a little bothered by them simply because they take up a bunch of pages. They literally take up about 1/4 of the issue, and I'm pretty sure that's the reason the story feels a bit rushed. I mean, the humor and brilliant plotting is still all there, but this issue just isn't as well structured as most.
The issue opens up in an awkward spot, as Cherry returns, planting a deep kiss on Hawkeye right in front of Black Widow, his ex-wife, and..... someone? It's never really explained what all of them were doing together in the first place, and though the establishing of his ex-wife here is fine, the third girl I have absolutely no idea about. Maybe she's been established elsewhere, but when everyone else has gotten a reasonable explanation, to just toss this girl in here feels rather sudden and awkward. Hawkeye has a maybe girlfriend? Where has she been for seven issues? To me, she just appeared out of nowhere. To be fair, the scene is incredibly amusing, with Hawkeye's awkwardness in the situation causing hilariousness as the plot for the issue is set into motion.
There's a couple of other questions I have, like Kate can drive? I mean, she did before, but I kind of thought that was an emergency, and it was Clint's car; but here she drives Clint and Cherry and says it's her car. Isn't she 9? And did Hawkeye get fired from the Avengers? He doesn't confirm one way or another but it REALLY sounds like he got fired, and I'm pretty sure none of the Avengers titles have that happening. And then when Hawkeye gets the comics out of order Cherry just gets frustrated and completely gives up? She doesn't even ask if Hawkeye remembers the order they were in? And Hawkeye didn't just read them in that order anyways? And she seriously sent them to him before meeting him and just assumed he would keep them in the same order? She didn't think to mail a note with them saying 'don't read my comics' or SOMETHING?
Overall, though, the issue just feels rushed. The story jumps from scene to scene a bit too quickly, and I constantly feel like there are small missing scenes. And then the ending scene feels a little off. The characters are all being slightly too vague, and it feels a little convenient to see EVERYONE Clint pissed off recently there, especially with the appearance of Madame Masque. The scene does set up a big coming conflict in the wake of everything that's come before, but bits of it felt confusing.
In Conclusion: 4/5
Aside from the rushed story, the issue is basically what I've come to expect from the series in tone. There's some serious undertones smoothly glued together with brilliant comedy, although I feel like the 'Iron Fist' joke was a little bit forced. This issue began like a standalone tale, but ended up being the most significant story yet, tying together a lot of the loose side adventures and funneling them into an ominous coming arc.