Hawkeye #1 (1983)

Writer/Pencils: Mark Gruenwald, Editor: Dennis O'Neil

By the time these four issues came out, we've had Avengers stories from the likes of Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, and Steve Englehart. I typically tend to avoid these Bronze Age books because I like my entertainment to come without a side order of overt racism and and/or sexism, and the plots are almost always ridiculously childish to a grown-up, modern reader, but it can be interesting to look at a character's origins, especially once you've seen a modern iteration. Jeremy Renner did such a great job portraying Clint Barton, AKA Hawkeye, in the first Avengers movie this May, I couldn't help but be curious about his beginnings, so I decided to jump in with this, his first solo mini-series.

So Clint's wizzing around on a "rocket-sled" that his "techno-buddies" have made for him, patrolling the skies above I'm-sure-it's-important Corp, Inc. 

Let me just take a moment to let you all know that I fucking hate these pirate-style boots they have everyone wearing in all these comics. They're an extra level of absurdity in a world containing a man who runs around in a purple suit with a big H on his mask, while riding some kind of aerial scooter.

So Hawkeye's thing is that he has all kinds of different trick arrowheads that attempt to justify the fact that he goes into battle against super villains with a fucking bow and arrow. I don't really know what that arrowhead on the left is for, and I'm not sure I want to know.

Where exactly are you going to shoot that, Clint?
Turns out it's a net, and once he's immobilised the bad guys, it is revealed that said bad guys are actually Clint's "techno-buddies" mentioned earlier, and this is all just a test run of his air-hog. Which might explain why he spent the entire time waxing lyrical about how he's just had the worst luck with women lately.

Those fucken whores: who do they think they are, having their own feelings?
Before along comes a lady named Sheila, who briefly gets me all excited because I think Clint's just introduced her as the head of security for the company, but it turns out that no, women in the 80s might have had jobs but those jobs were certainly not outside the limited parameters of what was considered acceptable at the time. She's the company's new PR rep, and she and Clint have been dating for about a month.

He flies her back to his sick bachelor pad, where it becomes clear that he is such a catch he doesn't even have a bed:

Aww yeah, that's what a lady likes, a grown man who sleeps on a futon. At least he took the time to make it up all pretty-like?

We are treated to a kind of fanservicey shower scene, though, of which I approve.

Sheila asks how Clint got started with his whole archery shtick, and we take a stroll down flashback alley: his parents died when he was a kid, and he and his brother ran away from the orphanage they were sent to. They found a travelling circus, where Clint learned to be a trick shot in the show. One night, he discovers that his mentor, known as the Swordsman, is making some extra income on the side by living a life of crime. He offers Clint a position as his partner, but Clint refuses. Clint is forced to fight the only father figure he's had, and the battle leaves him seriously injured.

He heals up and his brother decides to leave the circus, but Clint stays on and goes back to doing shows. One day, he sees Iron Man doing a brief spot of superheroing, and decides that he wants to fight crime himself. Unfortunately, he is initially mistaken for a criminal himself, because apparently everyone in the Marvel universe is just that dumb. It all gets straightened out, though, and he joins the Avengers.

"No Pietro, I'm sorry, only people with absurd head-gear can join our super secret boy band."
"What if I have a creepily pseudo-incestuous relationship with my twin sister?"
"Shit, you should have said something! Come on in, Lannister-boy."
Sheila is so bowled over by this impressive tale that she decides to perform a little circus contortion to make Clint feel more at home:

Who the fuck sits like that, seriously. Also, and I don't want to be indelicate here, but why is her crotch so big?

Anyway so Clint is called away just before he gets to mack on his lady and he zooms off to discover Mockingbird crawlin' around the building he's supposed to be guarding.

Check out those big ol' sleeves! What the hell has she got them for?

That's right bitches, battle staves. That's what they're for.

Bobbi says she used to work for SHIELD and she's received a tip that Clint's company are manufacturing parts to build some kind of mind-control device. Instead of like, calling someone at SHIELD, they have a bit of a wrestle and she essentially beats the shit out of him before a whole platoon of goons show up and gag her? I think? I dunno, it's weird.

Clint says he'll question her in the morning and while her story has begun to ring alarm bells in his head, obviously his most important priority is getting home to get laid. Once he gets there, though, he says he has to go back to check out Mockingbird's story.

He is ambushed by his goons who threaten to kill Sheila if he doesn't surrender. Once he turns himself in, they throw him in a pit with Mockingbird, and Sheila informs him that she was only going out with him so he'd be too distracted to notice the evil scheme going on under his nose.

The bad guys start to pour toxic sludge into the pit (I don't fucking know. Why would they store toxic waste in a warehouse? Why is there a giant pit in the warehouse? What the fuck industry is this company even in? Clich√© Villainy Inc?) but Clint's too busy moping to notice or care.

Mockingbird's all "ugh can you please put your big boy pants on and help me get us out of here" and so they get out and fly off on the air-hog scooter thing. Clint tells Sheila that she hurt him so bad he no longer cares what she gets up to, and she tells him that he knows too much and he can't be allowed to live. He essentially flips her the bird and VROOMS off into the sunset with Mockingbird, who he blames for ending his relationship with the entirely unpersonable villainess with the massive crotch.

In short: bitches, man, you can't trust 'em.

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