Its good to see Kanto's Sabrina is still getting work
After an awesome introductory issue, Ultimate Hawkeye's tone shifts from a tale of superhuman proliferation and villainous science to a chaotic war-zone that Hawkeye and a small contingent of SHIELD soldiers must fight through, only for the aforementioned superhuman proliferation to get much, much worse. But despite this shift in tone, the high quality of the last issue is retained.
Being stuck in the middle of a ruined city now populated only by tanks, soldiers, and the occasional supervillain with no way of contacting Fury puts Clint in a nicely isolated ground-zero position. This really does read like a military thriller story with a super-powered spin, and it works.
At a glance, the flashback scene seems really random and out-of-place, but it is nice to see how exactly Ultimate Hawkeye became involved with SHIELD. Its the sort of thing that helps new readers get to know the character better while also giving Ultimate Marvel veterans (such as myself) some new background information to chew on. Not to mention that enough is left unexplained in the flashback that it allows for more backstory down the line. And knowing Hickman, I think its safe to assume that we will be seeing more of that backstory in future issues.
Though they're the villains of the story, "The People" appear only as often as necessary this issue. Three scenes with them is all we get, but it is actually a pitch-perfect way of introducing the villains. We first get two scenes that effectively display their awesome power (with the first one being rather creepy in another way) and the third scene is them giving you their MO and motives, written in such a way that gets them across effectively while still sounding interesting. On that note, between this issue and the latest one of Ultimates, Hickman's writing can definitely sound dramatic when it wants too.
Sandoval's art is spectacular, but he sure does draw some goofy facial expressions for Hawkeye. Also, while this may not actually be Sandoval's fault, it would have been nice to see some more detailed shots of "The People"'s designs. But this story still has two parts to go, so I guess some cool designs will be coming eventually.
Simply put, Hickman has knocked Ultimate Hawkeye out of the park. I'd almost say I like this better than Hickman's Ultimates, although that's not to say that that's not also spectacular. No, this just seems like a perfect marriage of art, writing, and cool concepts that its honestly far superior to many of the relaunches going on at DC right now.