The Avengers' Ace Archer on his own!
Hawkeye (4 issue miniseries)
September 1983 - Dec 1983
Writer: Mark Gruenwald
Artists: Mark Gruenwald/Brett Breedings/Danny Bulanadi
A great way to show character is through deconstructing. Mark Gruenwald, in a single issue, takes Hawkeye down to one of the lowest point in his career. At the beginning of the issue, he’s the security head for a Cross Technological Enterprises and by the end of it, he barely survives a toxic waste death trap, gets fired, and is dumped by his girlfriend.
Hawkeye does find an ally in Mockingbird and with her help, he sets about on the road to recovery. He even gets a new costume out of the deal. With issue #2, they fend off the assassin called the Silencer.
“I [Mark Gruenwald] wanted to make a few minor modifications on the practical side. For instance, all archers wear a leather forearm guard on the arm which holds the bow in order to protect it from the chafing caused by released bowstring. (…) The vertical straps on Hawkeye’s tunic, which used to be studded with ornamental rectangles, Brett [Breeding] suggested should be lined with small compartment containing spare arrowheads. In that way, Hawkeye could draw a regular arrow from his quiver, flip open a pouch with a customized arrowhead (such as a smoke bomb), stick it on the arrowhead and voila! have a customized trick arrow.”
The miniseries gets a bit out of hand with issue #3 and #4 when two ridiculous assassins, Oddball and Bombshell, defeat and capture Hawkeye and Mockingbird. The evil mastermind behind this secret project turns out to be an obscure villain named Crossfire. Crossfire gloats over the captured heroes and reveals his master plan to eliminate the Avengers and other heroes that would attend Hawkeye’s funeral.
Hawkeye and Mockingbird conclude their whirlwind romance by getting married at the end of issue #4.
There’s nothing really innovative in this miniseries. This effort pales in comparison to Gruenwald's magnus opus, Squadron Supreme. The story throughout this miniseries is pretty much a paint-by-numbers job, but does succeed in giving Hawkeye a bit more of the spotlight. Even to this day, Hawkeye is still a secondary character with a string a failed ongoing series.
Mark Gruenwald not only wrote this series, but provided the penciled art. From Marvel Age #6:
“I first began thinking about a limited series featuring Hawkeye in the fall of ’81. Having completed a year of cosmos-creaking exploits on Thor, I was in the mood for something literally more down to Earth, so I approached Jim Shooter with the concept. We kicked around ideas about the archer’s past and future and I kept getting more psyched up by the minute. Just before I left, Jim asked who I had in mind for an artist. I told him I didn’t really know. Jim suggested that if I couldn’t find anyone, that I should take a crack at the panel breakdowns myself.”
Gruenwald's art seems to loose energy by the end of the miniseries. The first issue really shines and a lot of the artistic credit goes to Brett Breedings.
Unfortunately, Danny Bulanadi replaces Breedings as the inker on the miniseries with issue #3. I really enjoyed Breedings’ inks as I felt he truly lived up to the name embellisher. Bulanadi’s inking efforts in my opinion overpower Gruenwald’s penciled art. You can see a similar effect in the Price Namor Sub-Mariner miniseries.
- Hawkeye and Mockingbird are next seen in Avengers #239.
- Mockingbird first appeared in Marvel Team-Up #95.
- This miniseries introduces Hawkeye's rocket sled which he takes with him into the West Coast Avengers miniseries.