Friday, September 20, 2013

The Right Job For The Right Avenger

For those of us who have followed the career of Hawkeye, the Marksman during his first tour of duty as an Avenger, writer Roy Thomas's decision to change the archer's identity to Goliath had one thing in common with his decision to later change him back to Hawkeye: both decisions seemed spur-of-the-moment and took readers completely by surprise. As a result, what you're about to see is going to make little sense to you, aside from a writer shaking up the status quo. Was anybody unhappy with Hawkeye at the time? Unlikely. Was a different person in the identity of Goliath going to ignite sales? Same answer.

But I'll go you one better: was a muscle-bound giant going to make up for the absence of Hawkeye in the ranks of the Avengers? Or, put it another way--who made more of an impression on you, Hawkeye or Goliath? I won't press you on an answer, but I bet I could take a good guess as to what it would be.

So, in a nutshell: these scenes encapsulate Thomas's move to change Clint Barton's standing on the team. And again, they have one thing in common, something else this time:  prior to each shift, neither Hawkeye nor Goliath had expressed the slightest dissatisfaction in their current identity. Yet watch how that changes in an instant.

First, Hawkeye, just prior to his decision to hang up his arrow quiver. The Avengers are about to crash-land, and Hawkeye plans to fire a bracing cable to brake their approach. Until something happens that's probably happened to just about every archer, at one time or another:

Of course, it would be ridiculous for Hawkeye to let this incident just wipe out his stellar record as an Avenger. And, really, a snapped bow string? Horrors! The ignominy of it! If this had happened in the Avengers' gym, he wouldn't have given a second thought about it. But because it was a life-or-death situation, he's suddenly questioning his worth among these other Avengers:

And so, later in the same issue, when he learns the Black Widow is in danger, he decides he should abandon the time-tested identity and abilities of Hawkeye and instead try his luck on Henry Pym's new growth serum:

Tell me anything, anything about this decision that makes sense. And there's one more factor to consider--the startling conclusion that Pym himself draws in regard to the growing process:

Thus, Hank decides to give up growing giant-sized--while Clint, having heard straight from the doc that schizophrenia would be the result, says "bottoms up" without any worries whatsoever.

But, Thomas wants a new Goliath, and for whatever reason he wants Clint Barton in the role, so that's that. And despite his own diagnosis, even Hank fully supports Clint, especially after the new Goliath puts to rest any possibility of returning to his identity of Hawkeye.

So let's catch up with Clint roughly thirty issues later, when he's pounding the hell out of an escaping Skrull space ship:

Again, Clint has been Goliath for awhile now, and from all indications he's content and thriving in the role. But Thomas, out of the blue, decides to make him discontent in the role, with the only thing setting that mood in motion being an inadvertent lapse on Clint's part in taking his regular dosage of growth serum.

And so that ball starts rolling, with Clint suddenly angry at the serum--and leading to a rather knee-jerk reaction:

Nor does Thomas want to give Clint anything more substantive than a foul mood and an unjustified feeling of uselessness to account for his apparent wish to kick his Goliath identity to the curb--because the next time we check in with Clint, Thomas has cut to the chase:

The last time we see Clint as Goliath (at least until Operation: Galactic Storm, but let's get to that another time) is during the Kree-Skrull War, where the effects of the serum are now gone and he's suiting up as a regular Joe:

So, let me get this straight--Clint feels useless as Goliath, and useless as Hawkeye, but feels he can still contribute to the team as a non-powered human. Even Captain America is pumped up on super-soldier serum, Clint.

Though once the war is over, just look who reappears, courtesy again of Thomas:

And why?

I'll give you the only answer that I have, at this point:

Just because. That's why.


Joe S. Walker said...

And that was one hideous costume they brought him back in. Talk about fixing what wasn't broke.

Comicsfan said...

Joe, I agree. In fact, I was surprised this costume stuck around. The reasoning for it was that it had belonged to the archer who had been part of the sideshow troupe that had come across Hawkeye after he crash-landed. I guess Thomas felt that simply suiting him up as he was amounted to bringing him back to square one.

Murray said...

A little loose-goosey detective work shows an interesting coincidence. At virtually the same time Hawkeye received this abrupt identity switch, Green Arrow appeared with his whole new beard, costume and general identity makeover. A link? Comic professionals sharing boasts and bets at the local pub? Any cause & effect would require more diligent detective work than I'm willing to invest.

On a personal level, my first exposure ever to the Avengers as a kid was with Clint as Goliath. "Hawkeye" meant nothing to me. The return of the archer was a real downer for me. On the one hand, I love me giant characters. On the other hand, I'm an avid hobby archer and so bow & arrow characters give me a severe sprain from eye rolling. My suspension of disbelief snaps like Hawkeye's bow string in this entry.

dbutler16 said...

You don't love that new & improved Hawkeye costume? C'mon! How much more 70's can you get?

Yeah, now that you mention it Comicsfan, Clint's identity switches so seem a bit random and silly.