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Staying on Target, Part IV

Last time: When last we convened we were in the midst of our discussion of Marvel’s Avenging Archer, Hawkeye the Marksman. When we left off, Hawkeye, in the grip of a long-building inferiority complex, had given up his bow and quiver in exchange of steady doses of Hank Pym’s growth serum, transforming him into the Avengers’ newest resident giant, the second Goliath. However, even Hawkeye’s new gargantuan status wasn’t making him any happier…

In the midst of the Kree-Skrull War, Clint was undergoing his greatest crisis of confidence yet, culminating in his throwing away Hank Pym’s growth serum, resolving to give up his life as Goliath after one too many failures.

Now powerless, Clint nonetheless accompanies the Avengers into battle during the climax of the Kree-Skrull War, and is given direct orders by Cap to stop a Skrull saucer carrying a nuclear warhead to Earth, at any cost:

Clint manages to board the enemy craft, but without his growth powers, is at somewhat of a loss for what to do:

Thanks to some deus ex machina magic mental powers on the part of perennial Avengers sidekick Rick Jones, the Kree-Skrull War is soon over, with just one minor question remaining:

Answers would be forthcoming in AVENGERS #98, when, during a battle with Ares, the God of War, a familiar sight zips into the fray to free Thor’s mystically captured hammer:

The battle over, the Avengers turn to see the source from whence the arrow came, the returned-to-Earth Hawkeye, now in a much less cool and, well, for lack of a better word, groovier costume:

Having returned to the team with an amnesiac Hercules in tow, Hawkeye fills in the Avengers on how he managed to make it back from deep space. Powerless in the Skrull saucer, Hawkeye managed to create a makeshift bow and arrow out of some drainpipes and wiring, and destroyed the Skrull saucer’s engines.

Hawkeye makes it back to his own ship just before the Skrull ship explodes, with the explosion helping drive his ship straight down to the closest planet, which luckily happened to be Earth.

Hawkeye comes to in the wreckage of his crashed ship, in, of all places, Yugoslavia, where he’s discovered and rescued by a traveling carnival. The carnival, it turns out, once had an archer, who left his gear behind when he skipped out, providing Clint with the tools of his trade once more, as well as his terrible new costume. Hawkeye agrees to accompany the carnival and perform in exchange for a ride to the nearest town, and along the way, meets the carnival’s strongman, who in a remarkable coincidence is revealed to be his fellow Avenger Hercules, who had somehow lost his memory. Anyway, once Hawkeye gets to the nearest phone, he places a collect call to Stark International to arrange for a flight back to America for he and Herc.

Of course, once he’s back in Avengers Mansion and back on the team full-time, Hawkeye is right back to his old habits, which include falling in love with the wrong women — in this case, he’s back to his infatuation with the Scarlet Witch, who has by now begun her own difficult relationship with the robotic Vision.

After a while, even Hawkeye can take a hint, when Wanda fesses up about her feelings for their android teammate:

It doesn’t take long for Hawkeye to once again feel constrained within the confines of Avengers membership, especially with the Scarlet Witch now off the market. It all came to a head in AVENGERS #109, by Steve Englehart and Don Heck, which not only featured Hawkeye on the cover, but signaled that he was giving up that awful new costume:

Stinging from the Scarlet Witch’s rejection, Hawkeye ditches his new duds in favor of his original outfit, and storms out of the Mansion looking to let off some steam. In short order, Hawkeye is approached by the freakishly tall millionaire Imus Champion, who makes the archer an offer: a million dollars to the charity of his choice of Hawkeye will teach Champion archery.

Hawkeye accepts, and spends the next few weeks on the West Coast training the giant millionaire in the art of the bow and arrow. When Champion’s training is complete, naturally Hawkeye discovers his secret: he’s actually a supervillain in training. To be fair, if you’re nine feet tall and your legal name is “Champion,” you’re probably not preparing for a career as an accountant. Champion is planning to trigger the San Andreas Fault and drop California into the ocean, allowing him to retrieve a rare nerve gas that would wind up in international waters as a result of the new shape of the West Coast. Why he’s more concerned with breaking a relatively quaint maritime law than committing countless terrorist acts of murder and destruction is never quite explained. I mean, come on, man; you’re a supervillain — just steal the nerve gas. Who’s even gonna notice?

Hawkeye tries to escape and get help, but to no avail, and winds up strapped to the bomb that will trigger the San Andreas Fault, which will be detonated by Champion, using the very archery skills that Hawkeye taught him, Ah, irony.

Luckily, before “Stretch” can fire off the arrow, the Avengers swoop in to the rescue, having been warned by a forged letter sent by Champion himself. Champion manages to fight the full team to a standstill, and is about to fire off the arrow to detonate the bomb when Hawkeye fires first with a miraculous shot that severs the bowstring on Champion’s bow.

Champion himself is brought down with a smash of Thor’s hammer and a knockout-gas arrow from Hawkeye. All is not back to normal, though, as Hawkeye ends the issue with an unexpected announcement: he’s leaving the Avengers:

So Hawkeye’s life is at a crossroads, he’s quitting his job and on the rebound. So what does he do? That’s right, look up old girlfriends. Because that will make everything better. So off Hawkeye goes to find the Black Widow, who’s left him not once, not twice, but three times, and who was shacked up at the time with Daredevil, sharing a lovely two-and-a-half bath split-level out in San Francisco. Clint catches a plane to the West Coast and shows up on DD and the Widow’s doorstep, spoiling for a fight. Which is where we’ll pick things up next week.

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