In some ways, Jeff Lemire and Ramón Pérez are giving us two different comics in one. We've known bits about Clint Barton's past with his brother Barney growing up in a circus but seeing it fleshed out here is pretty cool. They could have easily gone the "Year One" route but having the story jump back and forth to the present ensures that it is rooted in the present as well. This is a story about Clint and Kate Bishop moving forward but we are seeing how events from Clint's past affect who he is now.
When you have a story showing the hardships children are forced to go through, there is a touching feeling. Clint and Barney didn't have the best upbringing and we're also seeing how some children were experimented on with HYDRA in the present. There's a nice mix in more character development along with moments of action and suspense.
Pérez's art is amazing along with Ian Herring's colors. There's no mistaking which moments are in the past or in the present. I would hate to have to choose which 'style' I like more.
As great as the two moments are, that is also a slight problem I've had in these issues. There tends to be a focus on one period over the other, which changes from issue to issue. In this one, there's more of a focus in the past with the final panel on each page depicting the present situation. Jumping back to the present for just one panel pulls you out of the main story and then throws you back in a moment later. It's not a major concern, especially since the art for both is so great.
Lemire, Pérez, and Herring are continuing to make this book their own. With all the hoopla over the previous volume, it's great to see this series completely stand on its own without completely disregarding what happened before. Each issue feels like I'm visiting old friends. Both the past and the present story lines are intriguing even if the jumping back and forth is sometimes distracting. If you're not reading this book, you need to fix that right away.