Avengers Spotlight #22-25
Issue(s): Avengers Spotlight #22, Avengers Spotlight #23 (Hawkeye Story only), Avengers Spotlight #24, Avengers Spotlight #25
Evan Skolnick - Assistant Editor
"Just like a male"? Are we back in 1965?
Anyway, despite their abrasive relationship, once the Brothers Grimm attack they are on the same page.
Just a couple more notes on Hawkeye and Mockingbird's relationship: a "joke" about divorce...
...and a joke about Hawkeye wanting to borrow the Brothers Grimm's Shut-up Dust for use on Mockingbird in the future.
The remainder of this four part story has Hawkeye attacked by a mob of lame-o villains, all working for Crossfire. Hawkeye is helped out by Trick Shot and (once she recovers again) Mockingbird.
In addition to the Brothers Grimm (who are operating independently of Night Shift), there is Bobcat and Mad Dog (Howard Mackie makes the ASPCA joke twice in this arc)...
...the goofball Death-Throws...
By the way, just in case this is on the exam, Crossfire has hired these villains not to kill Hawkeye, but to sever and deliver his bow arm.
Hawkeye also isn't sure if he can trust Trick Shot at first...
...so he winds up alone in the sewer, poisoned by Mad Dog, and facing all of these jokers at once.
Here's the thing about lame villains. Take any one of them, give them some attention and room to shine, and they absolutely can be cool. But take a dozen of them and pile them all into one crappy story, and they have no choice but to suck.
To make up for being lame, the villains are also incredibly stupid. Crossfire decides not to kill Hawkeye in a way that would have made sense...
...and he also basically tells the various villains to fight amongst themselves for the reward.
Luckily Hawkeye's allies show up before the villains humiliate themselves further.
This dumb story ends with Crossfire in danger of falling to his death the way Mockingbird let Phantom Rider die.
But Hawkeye doesn't let that happen.
Nonetheless, the experience finally lets him have some empathy for Mockingbird.
So i guess that's something. Trick Shot's cancer has also gone into remission. So a double happy ending.
The first back-up is penciled and inked by Don Heck (although the inks are supplemented by Jose Marzan) and the introductory note in the lettercol all but apologizes for that, letting us know that Don Heck is the guy that first drew both Hawkeye and Swordsman ("Now don't you feel smarter?", i.e. stop criticizing and show some respect for this elder statesman) and that this story is a "blast from the past". It's a weird story, with Hawkeye forcing some of the West Coast Avengers to watch a video laying out the Swordsman's secret origin.
The video tape shows that the Swordsman comes from a long line of French musketeers, including a Crimson Cavalier that was active in World War I.
The origin flashback occurs while the young Swordsman and his father are living as wealthy French colonists in Sin-Cong, a (fictional) French protectorate in Southeast Asia. The Swordsman's father is not too cool...
...but the Swordman himself tries to make up for it...
...and winds up joining the locals' rebellion against the French.
However, despite his help, the rebels fail to honor his one request to not hurt his father, and even gloat about it.
And that's basically his secret origin.
I don't know how much this story adds to the Swordsman. Despite refusing to kill the Avengers in his first appearance, he's a pretty regular bad guy in all his early appearances. This can be worked into his backstory but i don't see that it adds another layer.
What i love, though, is how the other Avengers just walk away without a word at the end of the story, with Hawkeye lamely suggesting that they use the tape to record stuff off the television. Was it that obvious to everyone how uninteresting the origin was?
I've placed the back-up from issue #23 in a separate entry.
The third story features Firebird, and completely upends her character. She's always believed that her powers came from God, but it really came from aliens.
Notice an Asparagus Head (D'Bari) and what looks like a baby Sleestack among the aliens.
In the end, Firebird decides that God did give her her powers, just not in a direct fashion. This is basically what i was taught in my CCD classes about evolution, that basically it happened the way the science books say, but that God willed it to happen like that.
One thing i do like about these Solo Avengers back-ups is that Managing Editor Gregory Write usually writes a little blurb about the artist in the lettercol. I mentioned his introduction of Don Heck. He also talks about how he discovered Gavin Curtis doing illustrations for children's books, for example. It gives you something else to think about besides the very slight stories in the back-ups, and almost makes it more Marvel Comics Presents than that series; a kind of artist showcase.
The final back-up features "the Honorary Avenger", Rick Jones. He's still traveling with Betty Ross Banner, but he's also shacked up with a book agent named Veronica (Betty and Veronica) that wants him to sign the rights to his memoirs.
Before he can sign, another agent, this one claiming to be a Skrull, shows up with an alternate deal.
Soon aliens from all over are showing up.
Obligatory: I've had that happen to me. I bet they had Taco Bell last night.
And then Rick is beamed up to a ship where it turns out Veronica is an alien as well: a Kree.
And another Asparagus Head. Those guys are making a comeback. Maybe Jean Grey is subconsciously bringing them back now that she's reabsorbed the Dark Phoenix power.
It turns out that Rick Jones' memoirs don't contain what all these aliens want: the secret to how he stopped the Kree-Skrull War. Since that was a "fluke", the aliens all leave.
But when he gets home, there are still bids from his old agent Mordecai P. Boggs and (an) Impossible Man (i have tagged this as an appearance of the Impossible Man. As far as i know there are no other Poppians besides him and his wife alive at this time).
It's a cute little thing and it's nice to see the Elan and the Snarks and all the other aliens, and Rick throws out a couple of Fa-antastics for old times sake. But it's yet another Solo/Spotlight story (along with the ones for She-Hulk, Starfox, even the Vision) that is trying for cutesy comedy instead of a real story. I'm glad to check in on Rick and Betty while they are separated from the Hulk. But surely it's not what the average reader hoping to check in on the Avengers characters that weren't getting play in the main books wanted to see. Cutesy stuff like this ensured that this book was not considered an essential third Avengers title. And that is something Marvel wanted this book to be, as evidenced by the name change and the fact that the book is tying in with Acts of Vengeance beginning next issue. Hawkeye and Mockingbird's reconciliation in the main story is potentially required reading (although it overlaps with the similar effort in WCA #46 and didn't need to take four issues of awful villains to get there).
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: I've placed the Vision story from issue #23 in a separate entry because it has to take place prior to West Coast Avengers #46. The main Hawkeye story here references West Coast Avengers #46, so it takes place after that issue. The Firebird and Rick Jones stories don't have any dependencies so i'm leaving them with this entry. The Swordsman back-up is potentially tricky due to the framing sequence which shows Hawkeye with (and seemingly bossing around, as if he were the leader of) the West Coast Avengers, including a post-reconstruction Vision. The MCP don't even list Hawkeye as appearing in this story (maybe that's why no one talks to him at the end), but they put the other characters here between West Coast Avengers #46-47. Assuming Hawkeye isn't just the Scarlet Witch's fever dream or something, i'm placing him here with the other Whackos between WCA #46-47, with the idea that he just came back to the Compound to show off the VHS tape of the Swordsman.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (5): show
The previous plantman story was a sad little last hurrah for this title. This bunch of stories would seem to be the low point but it gets worse when Gerber gets his hands on Hawk-eye and tries to make him "topical."
Series should have ended last issue.
By the way, I think the Wong Chu in the Swordsman story is supposed to be the same Wong Chu from Iron Man's origin, a neat little shared uni nugget that they never footnote.
Posted by: kveto from prague | October 6, 2014 3:12 PM
Between the Firebird and Rick Jones stories, I'm going to guess there was a pretty well-thumbed copy of the OHOTMU issue with all the alien races marked 'reference'.
Posted by: James M | October 6, 2014 5:33 PM
We've also seen Sin-Cong before in Avengers 18.
Posted by: Michael | October 6, 2014 8:44 PM
Really sad. The stories are eminently forgettable and even the continuity is weak (Wonder Man, who knows so much better, claims that Swordsman was the first Avenger to die in action).
Posted by: Luis Dantas | October 6, 2014 10:29 PM
Lou Mougin was actually one of the better fanzine contributors who did meticulously researched historical articles.
Union Jack I stated in Invaders #7 that all the people he knew in WW1 were "all gone now", implying that the Crimson Cavalier was dead(the Phantom Eagle certainly was).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | October 11, 2014 7:29 PM
Twice in the Hawkeye story, I was convinced that the horde of lame villains was a hallucination brought on by Mad Dog's fang venom.
Posted by: Andrew F | December 19, 2014 12:48 PM
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