Waiting for the Trade – Hawkeye

Waiting for the Trade
By Bill Miller
Avengers: Hawkeye
by Mark Gruenwald, Steven Grant, Stan Lee, John Byrne & Don Heck
Collects Hawkeye # 1- 4, Tales of Suspense #57, Marvel Super Action #1, Avengers #189 and
Marvel Team-Up #95.
Why I Bought This – This was another of my Avengers movie week frenzy purchases. In this case Hawkeye is my second favorite of the core Avengers. This is also focuses on his relationship with Mockingbird and they are my second favorite comic couple of all time. Throw in that Mark Gruenwald (who is basically tied with Roger Stern as my all-time favorite comic writer) wrote the main story arc and this was something that needed to be in my collection.
The Plot – Hawkeye, on hiatus from the Avengers, is working security for a private company when he and Mockingbird stumble upon a supervillain conspiracy. Also we get some of the earliest appearances of Hawkeye and Mockingbird reprinted as well. Spoilers ahead:

Chapter 1 – Hawkeye is trying out his new sky cycle. We see him with his girlfriend Shelia and some of his co-workers at Cross Technological Enterprises and he reflects on his origin and his new post-Avengers success. Hawk’s night off is interrupted by an intruder alarm at Cross Tech. The intruder is Mockingbird and they meet for the first time in a flirty battle. Mock plays the ex-SHIELD card and tries to tell Hawk that she has information on a conspiracy to build a mind control device at Cross Tech but he arrests her anyway. However he can’t shake what she said so he investigates on his own, leading to him being ambushed by a squad of generic thugs. They capture him and toss him in abandoned well where Mockingbird has also been stashed. Shelia reveals herself as one of the bad guys and they attempt to drown Hawk and Bird in toxic waste. The heroes escape on Hawk’s sky cycle but Hawkeye is broken hearted.
Chapter 2 – Hawkeye discovers his apartment has been cleaned out by Cross Tech, so Mockingbird takes him in and shares her origin. An assassin comes for Hawkeye in his sleep but the heroes drive him off. They break into Cross Tech and have a second battle with the assassin with Hawkeye scoring a hard fought victory while Mockingbird steals the bad guys’ plans.
Chapter 3 – Oddball and Bombshell are called in to take out the heroes. Oddball is a juggler with trick balls similar to Hawkeye’s trick arrows, while Bombshell is a chick with fire-based weapons and explosives. They blow up Mockingbird’s apartment but the heroes escape. Hawk touches base with Cap but decides to solve this case without Avengers’ aid. We get the up close and personal battle between the hero and villain pairs. Bombshell takes out Mockingbird, while Hawkeye defeats Oddball but then Bombshell ambushes Hawk from behind to give the villains the win.
Chapter 4 – The heroes awake chained to a wall and Crossfire is revealed as the head villain. His mind-control machine causes uncontrollable rage in all those who hear a sonic pulse it emits. His plan is to kill Hawkeye and then use his machine at the funeral to get the Avengers to kill each other thus taking them off the board for his plan for world conquest. He decides to test his machine on Hawk and Bird and locks them in a room without their weapons. They battle ferociously but Crossfire turns his machine off so the heroes will absorb the horror of their situation. Hawkeye uses that moment to bite down on one of his sonic arrowheads thus deafening himself. When the machine is turned back on he remains in control of himself and is able to defeat Mockingbird. He then feigns collapsing from exhaustion and when the villains come to check on him, he steals Oddballs weapons and defeats all three of them. He checks on Mockingbird and is afraid she’s dead. She revives and they kiss. We cut away to a honeymoon suite where Hawkeye and Mockingbird have eloped.
Chapter 5 – In his first appearance Hawkeye is working at a carnival when he sees Iron Man stop a Ferris wheel from breaking. This inspires Hawkeye to become a super hero but on his first mission stopping a jewel thief the police mistake him for the criminal. While on the run he bumps into Russian spy the Black Widow and instantly falls for her. She talks him into attacking Iron Man for her. We get an extended fight scene with classic Stan Lee choreography. Eventually Widow gets caught in the crossfire between the two and Hawkeye rushes her to safety while a convenient fog storm prevents Iron Man from following.
Chapter 6 – A black and white story of Mockingbird using the alias Huntress. She has been assigned by Congress to ferret out corruption in SHIELD, and we get a fairly straightforward non-superhero spy story of her in Mexico looking into an agent that she went to academy with. It’s actually fairly brutal and more like a pulp story than a Marvel story. The spies don’t even have the usual SHIELD tech as it is all guns and knives and realism. Anyway Mockingbird breaks up this corrupt batch with everyone in the story who isn’t her ending up dead. She finds some papers that indicate Nick Fury may be corrupt.
Chapter 7 –Hawkeye gets the job at Cross Tech that started this trade as he tries to prove he can make it on his own as a hero. Deathbird from the Shi’ar Empire of all people break into Cross Tech on Hawkeye’s first day. Apparently she’s been exiled to Earth and thinks there some tech here that can get her home (in another galaxy, that’s some private company). Anyway they fight and Hawkeye wins.
Chapter 8 – Spider-man (as Peter) is at the airport when he sees a woman being accosted by a group of men. He turns to Spidey while she ends up handling herself quite well and is revealed to be Mockingbird. Spidey learns her attackers were SHIELD agents and assumes she must be a villain after already helping her escape but she uses one of SHIELD’s flying cars to escape. A SHIELD agent named Deladin brings Spidey in to apprehend Mockingbird and says she’s out to assassinate Nick Fury. The plan is to use a Fury LMD to lure Bird out so Spidey can capture her. The plan works but when Spidey captures her, she has microfilm showing the corruption in SHIELD. At this point Deladin reveals himself as a counter agent and attacks the heroes with the Satan Claw (usually used by Baron Strucker of HYDRA). He actually defeats both heroes and is about to kill them when the real Nick Fury arrives and disarms him. Bird attempts to give her evidence to Fury only to be shot by other SHIELD agents, who didn’t know she was working undercover. Fury rushes her to the hospital and vows to finish the job she started in weeding out the corruption in SHIELD.
We also get Hawkeye and Mockingbird’s entries from the 1980s Marvel Universe Handbook.
Critical Thoughts: I liked everything about this. Hawk and Bird are still a fabulously fun couple and both characters shine in both the main story and the various back-ups/reprints.
I’d read both the main story and the Marvel Team Up issue back in the day and both hold up as thoroughly excellent comics. The main story in particular is exactly the kind of story that makes Gruenwald one of my favorites from pacing to the heroes’ interior monologues this is what super hero story telling should be. The fact that none of the heroes or villains in this story have superpowers and yet it feels perfectly at home in the larger Marvel Universe is another credit to Gruenwald’s ability to tell a perfect superhero adventure story. The finale with Hawkeye deafening himself in order to save the day is also the kind of heroic sacrifice with lasting consequences you don’t see very often. Throw in the Hawkeye gets married at the end of this and this was clearly a status quo shattering story for the character, which again is very rare for a mini-series.

I’d never read Hawkeye’s first appearance but it’s great. Let’s face it Stan Lee in the Silver Age creating iconic characters that have lasted 50 years is always excellent. Nuff’ Said.
The Mockingbird pulp story is so different than 99-percent of what Marvel usually publishes that I enjoyed it just for the novelty.
The other Hawkeye story was also a new read for me; and while not as overwhelmingly great as everything else here it was still a perfectly acceptable comic book and sets the table nicely for the main story.
Grade A+. If you like Hawkeye and Mockingbird then you need to own this.