For Those Who Came In Late: We’re hipdeep in our extended coverage of Hawkeye the Marksman, Marvel Comics’ resident archer and lovable loudmouth. When we left off last week, a frustrated Hawkeye had just quit the Avengers, and was jetting off to the West Coast in pursuit of a lost love, the Black Widow, who was in those days happily shacked up with Daredevil. Let’s pick up with Hawkeye’s arrival at the doorstep of the happy couple, shall we?
Hawkeye’s first major appearance outside the AVENGERS book in about seven years came in DAREDEVIL #99 (then temporarily titled DAREDEVIL AND THE BLACK WIDOW, for you sticklers for accuracy out there), in “The Mark of Hawkeye,” written by Steve Gerber and drawn by Sam Kweskin and Syd Shores.
The story opens with a weary Daredevil and Black Widow returning from a heinous battle, only to find a fired-up archer waiting on their front porch.
Hawkeye immediately declares his love for Widow, which naturally gets things off on the wrong foot with he and DD:
Hawkeye’s attempt to further ratchet up the romance is interrupted by Daredevil, which Hawk doesn’t take kindly to:
The two naturally come to blows, with Hawkeye getting the better of Daredevil before taking off. Their fight continues downtown, until the two finally agree to step back and let the Widow decide who remains in the picture. They return to Daredevil’s townhouse, where they’re surprised at even more visitors: the Avengers, who had arrived to recruit Daredevil to help against Magneto. Yeah, it didn’t make much sense to me, either.
Hawkeye naturally assumes the Avengers have arrived at Widow’s request to make him leave, and storms off angrily.
Although bitter about what’s happened, Hawkeye isn’t beaten down:
Following that Hawkeye eventually returned to the East Coast and the New York area as a solo crimefighter, where he eventually fell in with Dr. Strange, the Hulk, the Silver Surfer and the Valkyrie when Strange discovered a possible way to return Hawkeye’s former Avengers teammate the Black Knight to flesh and blood, having been trapped in a body of stone by a spell from the Asgardian witch the Enchantress. Hawkeye immediately signs on with the Defenders to help out:
Little did Hawkeye know that this would lead him into conflict with his former teammates in what would come to be known as the Avengers/Defenders War, with Hawkeye forced to go into battle once more with his old sparring partner Iron Man, and this time, finally managing to get the better of him. Once the Avengers/Defenders War came to an end, Hawkeye takes his leave of the Defenders, choosing once more to go it alone:
Hawkeye stayed with the solo life until November 1974, when he returned to the team in GIANT-SIZE AVENGERS #2, “A Blast From the Past,” by Steve Engelhart and Dave Cockrum.
Here Hawkeye returns to the fold after catching wind that his former teammates have been kidnapped by their old time-travelling foe Kang the Conqueror. Alongside his mentor and former enemy the Swordsman, Hawkeye helps rescue the Avengers, and returns to the team full-time, taking the place of the Swordsman, who gave his life to save their teammate Mantis:
And so it would go for Hawkeye off and on over the years, with him leaving and rejoining the Avengers sporadically as new writers would take over the book and look to put their own stamp on it. One of the most popular ways to utilize Hawkeye was putting him in a “David and Goliath” type of situation against a vastly more powerful foe, such as in AVENGERS #174, “Captives of the Collector!” Here Hawkeye faces off against the Collector, one of the Elders of the Universe, an all-powerful cosmic type.
As the Collector goes about his intent of, well, collecting the Avengers, Hawkeye manages to elude his grasp and leads him on a merry chase throughout the Collector’s starship, finally taking down the ancient alien with a well-placed electrical arrow:
One of the more notable Hawkeye adventures in this period came around this time, when he, Moondragon and Thor take a time-travel trip to the Old West in pursuit of Kang, and Hawkeye befriends the famous gunfighter known as the Two-Gun Kid. In fact, the two become such good friends that the Kid returns with Hawkeye to the present day, and the duo leaves the team and rides off to explore the modern West together. Eventually the Kid returns to his own time and Hawkeye, as he always does, returns to the Avengers. That is, until he’s booted from the team due to, of all things, affirmative action.
The government rears its ugly head in AVENGERS #181, in the form of obnoxious bureaucrat Henry Peter Gyrich, who begins throwing his weight around in successive issues and declares that if the Avengers want to retain their security clearance, they need to start following orders more directly, beginning with a team roster that “looks more like America.” Accordingly, Gyrich orders the Avengers to induct the Falcon to the team, to provide a more racially balanced lineup, and guess whose place he takes? That’s right, our boy Hawkeye once more finds himself out on the street, which he doesn’t take too well:
Hawk bounces back fast though, landing a job as head of security at Cross Technological Enterprises, a kind of low-rent competitor to Stark International, thanks to his innovative approach to the job interview (the same he used to get into the Avengers, come to think of it). Hawkeye proves himself on the job almost immediately, protecting the company from an attempted theft from the alien conqueror Deathbird, and saying goodbye in his own unique fashion:
Hawkeye actually finds himself actually thriving for once outside the Avengers, managing to keep the job even after the Avengers invite him back some two and a half years later in AVENGERS #221, which saw he and the She-Hulk added to a back-to-basics team that included Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and the Wasp.
Hawkeye’s rejoining the team alongside the volatile, unpredictable She-Hulk made for some great character moments, such as on their very first day, when Hawkeye, stuck in traffic on the way to Avengers Mansion, fries the electrical system on Shulkie’s pink convertible Cadillac with a handy short-circuit arrow. Or not long after, when Hawkeye gets a few yuks out of the Wasp’s attempt to give She-Hulk a fashion makeover, only to find himself silenced in a most unpredictable fashion, with an unexpected liplock. Hawkeye and Shulkie’s tempestuous relationship aside, this was a fun lineup, a personal favorite.
This run began another of Hawkeye’s longer tenures with the Avengers, which would see him through several team shake-ups, and the two things he’d wanted most his whole life: someone to love him back, and the command of an Avengers team of his own. Unfortunately, it would also see him have both of those dreams slip through his fingers.
But that’s a story we’ll begin next week.
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