Hawkeye, circa 1983.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Marvel Comics
First Appeared: 1964
Creators: Stan Lee (writer/editor) and Don Heck (artist)
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Hawkeye has been kicking around Marvel Comics longer than most of his readers have been alive, but to this day, he's never quite found his place. Initially, this was because of a …

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… restriction imposed on Marvel by its distributor — the company was only allowed to publish a limited number of comics each month. When Hawkeye first appeared, there wasn't room for him. He had to make his debut as a bad guy.

This occurred in the Iron Man story in Tales of Suspense #57 (September, 1964). Unsatisfied with his life as a carnival showman, Hawkeye decided to use his stupendous archery skills to make himself a superhero (as DC's Green Arrow had done decades earlier). But his first super-deed was misunderstood — cops thought he was one of the criminals. He ran — straight into the arms of The Black Widow, who was then working as a Communist agent. Falling for her charms, he was easily misled into committing acts of espionage and running afoul of the law for real.

A few months later, however, Marvel revamped The Avengers — until the distributor problem was overcome (which occurred in 1968), that group would serve more as a home for heroes without series, than a showcase for those seen regularly elsewhere. Hawkeye, looking to atone for his shaky start, was the first of them to join.

Since then, Hawkeye has been seen almost exclusively in a group setting. When he left The Avengers, he joined a less structured group, The Defenders. More recently, he's helped an upstart group, Thunderbolts, get off the ground. But he keeps coming back to The Avengers, and over the years has been one of their steadiest members. When that group started a West Coast branch, it was Hawkeye who set up the new headquarters and organized the team.

With The Black Widow long out of his life (she'd developed a romance with Daredevil), Hawkeye picked up with a female superhero named Mockingbird. They were married, but shortly afterward, she was killed fighting a super villain named Mephisto.

For a brief period in the late 1960s and early '70s, Hawkeye sought to expand his superhero repertoire by adopting Henry Pym's size-changing technology, adopting "Goliath" as his superhero name. But his body reacted adversely to the stress of shrinking and growing, so he went back to being Hawkeye.

In recent years, Hawkeye has been leading a team of younger superheroes called The Thunderbolts, which is as close to real stardom as he's ever come. But he's an enduring supporting character, and a testament to Marvel's determination to find a place for characters that seem unplaceable.


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Text ©2000-05 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Marvel Comics.