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The Untold Truth Of Hawkeye

In a world of green-skinned behemoths and hammer-swinging gods who tangle with reality-bending threats on a regular basis, it would be easy to underestimate the value that a guy with a bow and arrow could bring to a team of superheroes. Fortunately, the Avengers saw something special in Clinton Francis Barton — and ever since he joined Earth's Mightiest Heroes in 1965's "Avengers" vol. 1 #16, he has been consistently proving that there's more to him than sharp eyes and steady hands.

Throughout decades of publication history, Marvel readers have witnessed the growth and evolution of the Avengers' temperamental toxophilite. And while he (usually) isn't capable of superhuman feats like most of his Avenging allies, his skills and bravado have been more than enough to make him a true asset on the battlefield — like that time he saved not one, but two comic book universes from total destruction. Here is the untold truth of Hawkeye, the premier superheroic marksman of the Marvel universe.

Hawkeye debuted as a (misguided) villain — and faked his way into the Avengers

The Marvelous marksman made his first appearance in the comics in 1964's "Tales of Suspense" vol. 1 #57. After performing archery feats before an unimpressed audience, Clint sets his sights on Iron Man when the armored superhero stops an out-of-control pinwheel ride and grabs everyone's attention. Hawkeye quickly assembles a colorful costume in his workshop and puts an assortment of trick arrows in his quiver.

However, an attempt to stop a jewel thief goes awry when authorities mistake the costumed Hawkeye for the culprit. He escapes with the help of Black Widow (who has not yet given up her villainous ways at this point). Hawkeye immediately falls in love with her, and she manipulates him into a showdown with ol' Shellhead. But Iron Man wins their skirmish, forcing the two antagonists to flee.

Some time later, Hawkeye gets the opportunity to save the lives of none other than the Avengers' butler, Edwin Jarvis, and his mother. As told in the second issue of the limited series "Hawkeye: Blindspot," Jarvis stages a break-in at Avengers Mansion to give Hawkeye an opportunity to show the team he has reformed. Thanks in part to a display of his incredible archery skills, the marksman ends up being drafted into Cap's Kooky Quartet alongside fellow reformed criminals Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, after the founding members (Iron Man, Thor, Giant-Man, and the Wasp) take a leave of absence.

He received training from both bad guys and good guys

The man who would become Hawkeye spent his formative years performing alongside a traveling circus troupe. "Avengers" vol. 1 #19 reveals that Clint begins developing his combat skills with the help of his fellow circus star, the Swordsman (Jacques Duquesne). However, their relationship falls apart when Clint accidentally discovers that the Swordsman was stealing money from the circus. A fight ensues, with the sword-swinging crook leaving Clint for dead.

"Solo Avengers" vol. 1 #2 further adds to Hawkeye's origin story by showing Clint's recovery period, during which another fellow performer, Trick Shot, trains him to become a pro at the bow and arrow. However, his new mentor turns out to be no better than his old one: Trick Shot is an assassin-for-hire who relishes killing and inflicting pain upon his targets. Clint barely escapes from this toxic partnership with his life, and he decides to strike out on his own.

Some time later, Clint joins the Avengers. In "New Avengers" vol. 1 #33, after Hawkeye casually comments that his archery skills can easily beat Cap's hand-to-hand abilities, the Sentinel of Liberty makes short work of the smug bowman. He then begins training Clint in various fighting styles that don't involve his bow and arrow. This training proves vital for Clint later on: He eschews his favorite weapon, drops the Hawkeye name, and becomes the new Ronin, a master of the katana and melee combat.

Hawkeye led his own team of reformed villains

As someone who didn't always walk the straight and narrow path, Hawkeye tends to have a soft spot for reformed villains. Over the years, Clint has demonstrated his willingness to help former foes successfully stay on the side of the angels. The best example of this is when he shows up at the Thunderbolts' doorstep in issue #20 of their eponymous series, becoming a key member of the team for 54 issues.

When the Avengers disappear after fighting the psionic entity Onslaught, the Thunderbolts — six villains masquerading as heroes, under the leadership of Citizen V aka Baron Zemo — emerge, seeking to take their place as Earth's premier superhero team. However, the crooks actually enjoy pretending to be the good guys, revolting when Zemo tries to blackmail them into carrying out his original plans. By the time Hawkeye and the Avengers successfully return to Earth, the remaining Thunderbolts (Songbird, Atlas, Mach-1, Moonstone, and Jolt) are doing their best to get the world to accept them as real heroes.

"Thunderbolts" vol. 1 #21 opens with Hawkeye soundly beating the five in a brief skirmish. He presents the defeated ex-villains with an offer: Let him lead the team, and he'll use his skills and prestige as an Avenger to help them win the public's trust. Hawkeye remains on the team until issue #75, promising that the Avengers will "[beat] the snot out of [them]" if they ever fall back into their villainous ways.

For a time, Hawkeye assumed another Avenger's identity and powers

In both the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the main comics continuity, Clint abandons the Hawkeye identity and takes on the role of Ronin following a massive personal tragedy. In the films, his wife and children disappeared in The Snap, while in the comics, he passes the Hawkeye mantle on to Kate Bishop some time after Captain America's death in "Civil War." However, Clint adopting the codename that originally belonged to fellow superhero Echo wasn't the first time the marksman borrowed someone else's nom de guerre.

In "Avengers" vol. 1 #63, an emergency situation causes Hawkeye's bow to break, leaving him without a weapon. Alone at Avengers Mansion, he receives a secret distress call from Black Widow, who has been held captive at Coney Island. Left with no other option, he grabs fellow Avenger Hank Pym's growth serum and newly crafted Goliath costume and rushes off to rescue Natasha. After successfully saving her, he decides to stick with the new identity for a while (as Pym has already abandoned it to become Yellowjacket full-time).

This wardrobe change lasts until "Avengers" vol. 1 #98, which features Clint returning to the Hawkeye persona with a new costume, which he wears for 11 issues before going back to the classic suit. Notably, Clint briefly re-assumes the Goliath name and powers in 1993's "Avengers West Coast" vol. 1 #90, in a bid to save his lover Mockingbird from Ultron's clutches.

Hawkeye is 80% deaf and uses hearing aids

For obvious reasons, sharp vision is incredibly important to any archer. Hawkeye greatly relies on his keen eyesight to get him out of trouble during combat situations. That said, it doesn't mean that the rest of his senses don't matter that much to him. Which is why it's a big deal that he suffers hearing loss in the comics — not once, but twice.

In 1983's "Hawkeye" vol. 1 #4, the Avenging archer faces off against a villain named Crossfire, who is equipped with an ultrasonic brainwashing weapon. To prevent the device from taking over his mind, Hawkeye grabs a sonic arrowhead from his quiver and bites down on it. While he eventually succeeds in defeating the villain, he suffers permanent ear damage, making him 80% deaf and dependent on hearing aids for a long time. This changes when Franklin Richards alters reality to save Marvel's heroes from the psionic threat called Onslaught; when the Avengers return to the "normal" world in 1997's "Heroes Reborn: The Return" #4, Hawkeye's hearing is fully restored.

This lasts until 2014, when an assassin known as the Clown ambushes Clint and stabs him in his ears with his own arrows (in "Hawkeye" vol. 4 #15). Clint begins dealing with the aftermath of the Clown's attack four issues later, initially resisting any attempts at adapting to his predicament. Ultimately, he starts reading lips (clumsily), learning sign language, and using hearing aids again to cope with his situation.

He stopped Captain America from quitting

Clint hasn't shied away from adopting different guises (and even dropping his signature weapon) whenever the situation calls for it. One of those instances was a brief but memorable occasion during which Clint had to revisit — or at least pretend to revisit — his villainous roots, just to help a friend get out of a rut.

"Captain America" vol. 1 #179 sees Steve Rogers abandoning the role of Captain America after becoming disillusioned with current political events. As he tries to enjoy an ordinary day as a civilian with his lover Sharon Carter, a mysterious villain calling himself the Golden Archer shows up, challenging Steve to fight him. The Golden Archer attacks Steve two more times before the nearly-retired Avenger finally manages to catch up with him.

After being beaten in hand-to-hand combat, the golden villain drops his disguise, revealing himself to be none other than Clint. Hawkeye gives Steve the pep talk he needs to resume superheroics, but with a twist: Inspired by Clint's actions and still discouraged about the state of the world, Steve decides to take on a different identity himself as Nomad, the man without a country.

Interestingly, the Golden Archer is an actual supervillain on an alternate Marvel Earth: taxi driver Wyatt McDonald of Earth-712, who first appears in 1971's "Avengers" vol. 1 #85 operating as a hooded, arrow-shooting superhero named, oddly enough, Hawkeye.

Hawkeye's brother is a former-FBI-agent-turned-supervillain

Clint may have lived a colorful life, but so did his brother Barney. As revealed in "All-New Hawkeye" vol. 1 #1, the brothers grew up as orphans, bouncing from one foster home to another until they ran away and joined the Carson Carnival of Traveling Wonder. However, they drift apart after the revelation that the Swordsman is simply grooming Clint to be his criminal partner. Clint finds a new mentor in fellow circus archer Trick Shot; meanwhile, Barney joins the army and later becomes an FBI agent.

Tragedy strikes the brothers when Clint unknowingly shoots Barney during the latter's first undercover mission — pretending to be a wealthy criminal's bodyguard — in "Hawkeye" vol. 3 #5. Some time later, Barney meets Clint (as Hawkeye) again alongside the Avengers. Barney ends up sacrificing his life to save the team; after Barney's funeral in "Hawkeye" vol. 3 #6, Clint learns about his true occupation via a letter from his FBI partner. This is not the end for Barney, though.

In "Hawkeye: Blindspot" #4, a resurrected Barney, now claiming the mantle of Trick Shot, faces Hawkeye in a showdown orchestrated by Baron Zemo. Both brothers survive, but they go their separate ways once again. The new Trick Shot joins Norman Osborn's Dark Avengers but eventually leaves the team and becomes a vagrant. "Hawkeye" vol. 4 #22 provides closure for both Clint and Barney, as they make peace with each other at last (but not before Barney takes off with Clint's money).

Hawkeye was married to a fellow Avenger

Apart from his failed relationship with Black Widow, Clint has also been romantically linked to the Wasp, Echo, Spider-Woman, the Night Nurse, and even the supervillainess Moonstone. However, his most meaningful relationship is with Bobbi Morse aka Mockingbird: a partnership that becomes a marriage and ends in a separation that's further complicated by a secret alien invasion.

The two first meet in issue #1 of the 1983 "Hawkeye" limited series. At the end of their adventure, Clint and Bobbi elope; a short time later, they become founding members of the Avengers' West Coast division. Unfortunately, their marriage begins to crack when a time-traveling mission goes awry in "West Coast Avengers" vol. 2 #18. Phantom Rider, a costumed adventurer from the 19th century, becomes smitten with Mockingbird and uses a potion to make her fall in love with him. Bobbi eventually breaks free of the potion's effects, ultimately letting Phantom Rider fall to his death as revenge in "West Coast Avengers" vol. 2 #22. Hawkeye, however, is unable to accept Mockingbird's actions, and the couple separate — with any hope for reconciliation dying when Mockingbird sustains fatal injuries in 1993's issue #100.

In a shocking twist 15 years later, the crossover event "Secret Invasion" revealed that the Mockingbird who died in Clint's arms was actually a Skrull, and that the real Bobbi is still alive. However, despite her miraculous return, Clint and Bobbi ultimately chose to finalize their separation.

Hawkeye rode a flying motorbike and a transforming van

As an ordinary human being who just happens to be handy with a bow, Clint doesn't have the ability to fly, teleport, or create magical portals. For Avengers missions that require long-distance travel, he finds himself either riding the Quinjet with his teammates or journeying via conventional means of transportation (or in some cases, on foot). Over the years, however, the marksman has had access to some pretty sweet rides, like a rocket-powered aerial sled and an AI-equipped van with a humanoid combat mode.

The Sky-Cycle is perhaps the vehicle most associated with Hawkeye. The brainchild of Cross Technological Enterprises mechanic Jorge Latham, the anti-gravitational bike debuts in "Hawkeye" vol. 1 #1 as the archer's personal ride. Hawkeye takes quite a liking to the Sky-Cycle, especially since it allows him to pilot it handsfree (making it possible for him to ride and shoot arrows simultaneously).

Meanwhile, the vehicle that Clint himself christened "Vantastic" first demonstrates its full range of capabilities in 2017's "Occupy Avengers" vol. 1 #7. When a fight between Skrull refugees and bounty hunters breaks out in Dungston, Iowa, the van's A.I. operating system kicks in, and it transforms into a powerful, bipedal robot that makes short work of the Skrulls. Aside from its alternate mode, Vantastic also boasts a "spatial modulation field" (meaning it's actually bigger inside than it looks outside), as well as the ability to keep itself running via a self-generated power source.

He can use pretty much anything as a projectile weapon

Way too many folks underestimate what Clint Barton can accomplish without his signature weapons. Apart from the combat and arms training he received from the Swordsman and Captain America, the matchless marksman also has the ability to take pretty much anything he can get his hands on and turn it into a dangerous projectile.

One noteworthy example is Clint's battle against the Clown in "Hawkeye" vol. 4 #22. Out of arrows and incapacitated by a bullet wound, Clint pulls out a sharp sliver of wood from his shirt pocket and flicks it straight into the Clown's eye, allowing him to subdue the villain. Meanwhile, 2011's "Hawkeye: Blindspot" #4 shows that Clint doesn't even need a bow to turn arrows into deadly weapons, as he takes one and chucks it right into his brother Barney's shoulder, pinning his foe to a wall. Furthermore, Clint is one of the few human beings capable of properly handling Captain America's shield. In "Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America" #3, Clint impresses Iron Man by perfectly throwing and catching the legendary discus, a feat that 77 elite S.H.I.E.L.D. agents failed to accomplish. (The MCU hints casually at this skill as well.)

However, the most infamous demonstration of Clint's near-superhuman skill is in "Ultimates 2" vol. 1 #10, which is set in a parallel reality. Bloodied and tied to a chair, this version of Clint pulls off an incredible escape attempt by flicking out his own fingernails and killing his captors.

Hawkeye is so strong, an average person can't draw his bow

From an observer's point of view, the art of shooting an arrow may look like simple work. In reality, though, it requires a lot more strength and concentration than one might expect.

According to Hunter's Friend, properly drawing a bowstring requires a certain level of back and upper-body strength, depending on how heavy the bow is. Heavyweight bows, for instance, are recommended for large-frame archers, as they can require a draw weight of up to 75 pounds. And as "Hawkeye" vol. 1 #4 confirms, Clint's bow takes far more strength to draw than the average person can muster: When the villain called Crossfire accidentally knocks himself out in a failed attempt to use Hawkeye's bow, the marksman mocks him for being unable to draw his 250-pound bow.

Meanwhile, "New Avengers" vol. 2 #5 shows Clint performing an even more unrealistic feat. Pinned under an overturned cab, the archer manages to not only pull himself out, but also lift the front end of the taxi with a single arm.

Hawkeye: an Avenger ... and a Justice Leaguer?

As one of the longest-serving Avengers, Hawkeye has earned his rank as one of the teams' greatest members. However, not many people are aware that Clint Barton holds a rather unique record: He is, quite possibly, the only Avenger to also formally join DC Comics' Justice League of America.

The third issue of the Marvel-DC crossover "JLA/Avengers" depicts reality rapidly warping around the two teams. In one of these multiversal shifts, Hawkeye is shown as a member of the JLA, helping the team defeat Doctor Doom and becoming the apple of Black Canary's eye (much to the chagrin of his rival archer Green Arrow). This version of reality only lasts for two pages, though. Surprisingly, Hawkeye plays a key role in ending the cross-dimensional conflict. In "JLA/Avengers" vol.1 #4, he and DC's the Flash trick the cosmic despot Krona into thinking they're dead, enabling the archer to surprise the power-mad entity with an explosive arrow that destroys the villain's power source and imprisons him in a cosmic egg. 

In other words, Hawkeye, a man with no actual superpowers, saved both the Marvel and DC universes with a single arrow — even though he does not remember it.