Avengers Spotlight #30-34,36
Issue(s): Avengers Spotlight #30, Avengers Spotlight #31, Avengers Spotlight #32, Avengers Spotlight #33, Avengers Spotlight #34, Avengers Spotlight #36
Len Kaminski / Gregory Wright - Managing Editor
Gregory Wright is listed as the "Managing Editor" for issue #32 of the USAgent story only. Len Kaminski is otherwise listed as the Managing Editor for all stories while Mark Gruenwald is "Editor", including on the actual opening credits page for issue #36. But issue #36 has Kaminski as "Assistant Editor" and Howard Mackie as Editor on the lettercol page.
The poll that ran to test the possibility of replacing Hawkeye as the lead character ended inconclusively, but it did show that this book was in a bit of trouble. We get our first Statement of Ownership numbers for this title in issue #32, and they're about 100,000 less than the main Avengers book despite the branding efforts to make this book seem more like an essential Avengers title. The book is canceled with issue #40.
I'm not a Hawkeye fan, but the format of the book was the bigger problem. Letters published in these issue, while happier with the recent Acts of Vengeance stories, say things like "The majority of stories in this series have been, well, inconsequential" and "The back-ups [with some exceptions] have been, well, inventory stories". And one longer letter gets printed in two separate lettercols (condensed and edited in different ways) that lays it out in more detail:
Don't get me wrong, some of the back-up stories have been excellent... but the Hawkeye lead feature and certain other back-ups just did not have the quality. Many were played for laughs, some seemed inconsistent with the characters as we know them, and many of the stories were just the sort of filler-type, insignificant things you tried to convince us were not coming.
I don't think Marvel was deliberately going for a younger audience here. The writers of the Hawkeye feature in this book have mainly been Tom DeFalco and Howard Mackie, and both have an unsophisticated faux-Silver Age writing style regardless of the book they are on that probably feels dumbed down to readers that don't recognize it as a nostalgia trip. And while that was a factor since it's such a contrast from how, say, the mutant books or even the Walt Simonson and John Byrne Avengers books (say what you will about their storylines, at least those guys can write dialogue) read at the time, the bigger issue is the "filler" complaint. And that's largely a problem of the format. It may be possible to write a character-driven, impactful story in eleven pages, but in practice we have plenty of evidence that it's at least very difficult.
Since Marvel Comics Presents will continue to run, Marvel obviously didn't see it as that big a problem, but as this series nears the end, Marvel begins experimenting with the format. That actually started with the Dwayne McDuffie Acts of Vengeance issues, which were tied directly into a bigger story so that they automatically had more "impact". And i personally think that his story from Avengers Spotlight #27 showed a way forward. You could have secondary Avengers characters working in the aftermath of a story from one of the main titles, thus eliminating some of the space devoted to set-up and giving more room to explore angles not addressed in the main story while also spotlighting different characters who are operating in a true Avengers status as opposed to the various random things we've seen them doing in these solo books (which would also utilize the idea that the Avengers was supposed to have a huge rotating membership at this time).
Instead, Marvel sticks with the idea of this as mostly a Hawkeye book, but they do go with a more serious and long-form story. This arc is written by Steve Gerber, who maybe wasn't a fan favorite at this point but he was at least a critical favorite and enough of a name that putting him on this book was a sign of Marvel's seriousness. Of course, the story is illustrated by Al Milgrom and Don Heck, and if you were trying to shake the perception that this book had an old school feel, that wasn't the way.
But the more interesting thing is the format. We've had continued stories in this book before, but they've been of the serial variety, where one issue leads to another but each issue is really a standalone adventure that just happens to continue from the previous one. These six issues are a self-contained and single narrative. And most interestingly, the story is book-ended by full length Hawkeye stories, with no back-ups. The middle parts similarly have a four part continued USAgent story, which is definitely unique for the series (the closest we've come to that was the three-part Moondragon feature, but again each part of that was really a standalone story). The Hawkeye story is interrupted by a fill-in in Avengers Spotlight #35 (covered in a separate entry), but that's interesting in its own right for being a full-length Gilgamesh story. And then following these issues, there's a four-part "Avengers Reborn" arc that's at least thematically linked, and each issue again is a full-length single story (i.e. no back-ups).
Now of course none of this was enough to save the series. And that may just be because it was too late for anyone to notice that changes were being made, but it may also be due to the fact that this first major format change was accompanied by plot choices that don't seem like a good fit. If the Acts of Vengeance crossover got more eyeballs on the book thanks to the important tie-ins with the other Avengers titles, both the stories here, which are isolated from the rest of the Marvel universe and deal with serious and more or less political topics, would have alienated those same readers. The Hawkeye story in particular seems designed to explain to super-hero fans that super-hero stuff is childish fantasy, and also explicitly rejects the kill 'em all elements that were making the Punisher so popular at this time. The book also would have angered Hawkeye fans by giving him an abomination of a new costume. Personally, i also just don't think the writing is very good, with Hawkeye repeatedly acting like an imbecile in order to further the plot and with the repeated attempts to elevate the threat of gang warfare into something that rivals attacks from Dr. Doom.
The Hawkeye story sets the tone by having him and Mockingbird discussing the latest violent action movie.
I don't know if it's intentional, but the conversation almost reopens an old argument between the couple when Mockingbird says that she liked the film and Hawkeye starts to say "You would..." (since she's made the case for killing in the past). But as they're walking, they and the movie theater crowd are caught in the crossfire of a gang shooting.
They summon a remote sky-cycle and chase after the shooters, with Hawkeye clearly rattled. They manage to capture three of the four shooters. Later that night, Hawkeye is still taking it very hard. Mockingbird less so, which is attributed to her espionage days. The idea being that Hawkeye has been blissfully ignorant of this sort of thing. And Mockingbird warns him that getting involved might not be pleasant.
A problem with superheroes dealing with real world crime is that they can't "solve" the problem without changing the shape of the Marvel universe compared to the real one. So street level heroes like Spider-Man and Daredevil mostly tackle muggers and drug dealers but can't usually touch the likes of the Kingpin. The explanation given is usually something along the lines that the situation is too complicated, or that taking down the Kingpin would just result in more chaos as his controlling influence is replaced by gang wars. That's not the route we're going in this story. Hawkeye will be repeatedly told that getting involved is too dangerous.
We see that after Hawkeye interrogates one of the shooters (whose gang name is Prince Charming; he'll be an important part of this story)...
...and then talks to police officer Pete Zamora.
Check. These gang guys are serious, not like your corny super-villains.
This is meta-commentary. Maybe the sort of thing you might see in a deconstructionist independent comic book or something. I suppose there's a way to make it work in a Marvel universe comic, but the way it's done here it's at the expense of Marvel's whole reason for existing. Hawkeye's faced homicidal indestructible robots with death rays, literal demons, and other ultra-powerful super-heroes. But now he's going up against drug dealers with guns, and he's in for the fight of his life, and about to be wounded beyond anything he's experienced before. Not because he's walking into a complicated situation that he doesn't know how to navigate, but because these guys don't cheesily announce themselves before attacking.
The "Kingpin" in this story is a woman named Lotus Newmark.
She tells her men to kill Hawkeye, so they lure him out by dumping a body on the Avengers' front stoop.
So Hawkeye goes after them (alone).
And is dumbly led into an obvious trap. If Hawkeye's instincts were this bad, he'd be dead a long time ago. I guess the idea is that he's super-rattled by all the deaths and is not thinking clearly.
He survives thanks to the fact that a young kid named Luis (who will also be important to the story) calls 911 for an ambulance...
...although even with immediate medical attention it's a miracle ("it's by sheer luck his brain and heart were undamaged").
While he's recovering in the hospital, he's visited by Tony Stark...
...who agrees to create a new suit that Hawkeye has designed.
There's an odd sequence at the beginning of issue #31 where USAgent finds Hawkeye in disguise and assumes he's an intruder.
Uh, Mockingbird, you, ah, forgot to put clothes on. I'm wearing long sleeves and pants and USAgent is dressed in full chainmail, so it can't be that hot tonight.
Anyway, Luis' family's house is shot up due to the fact that he called 911 for Hawkeye. His mom is put in the hospital. Hawkeye is about to go out to "do something", but Mockingbird still wants him to realize that he can't stop it.
She does at least make the "chaotic" argument, but that's along with the sort of anti-superhero defeatism that says you can't change the world with kung-fu kicks and trick arrows. Guys, it's just a gang. You might not be able to stop all crime, but you can handle a gang. Spider-Man and Daredevil do it all the time.
Lotus starts promoting Prince Charming (just "Prince" for short) in her organization, impressed with the way he handled himself during the Hawkeye interrogation. His first job is to escort an assassin from Colombia around town; the assassin has been hired to kill Hawkeye. Meanwhile, young Luis is buying a gun.
And then, after falling for another trap...
...and then another trap, the assassin is killed by a mysterious silhouette, obviously Luis.
Luis starts calling himself the Terminizer, which sounds like something that Steve Gerber would have put in Howard the Duck as a parody character, but it's played seriously here.
Mockingbird again explains to Hawkeye that this isn't like when he's fighting people with zap guns.
Another difference between super-villains and the gang members is that even super-villains place some value on their own lives.
Again, i can see what Gerber is going for here, with the idea that real crime is a serious problem and there's no solution in just finding someone to punch. It's really an anti-Punisher message, but the constant comparisons to Hawkeye's supervillain experience makes it come across as anti-superhero instead.
Hawkeye then tries just going around everywhere that the gang is operating, disrupting their operations. We've seen Spider-Man make this attempt as well. But in this case, Hawkeye is followed around by the "Terminizer", who kills the gang members after Hawkeye disables them.
Mockingbird initially says that Hawkeye may have triggered off an actual gang war, but by next issue she's the one who figures out that the Terminizer is probably on a personal vendetta.
Meanwhile, Prince has continued to receive lessons in loyalty from Lotus (including getting stabbed in the gut by her - with her hand! - and then being sent to her personal doctor) and she later has him cleaned up and starts putting the moves on him. She also wants him to wipe out his former gang members, since she doesn't like the fact that they've attracted the attention of an Avenger.
So Prince helps lure his gang out to a pit in the desert, where Lotus' agents dump napalm on them. Hawkeye and Mockingbird are there, but unable to stop it. The deaths are blamed on the Terminizer, although it's quickly realized that this was not his MO. Mockingbird tries to stop the people that dumped the napalm, but they wind up crashing and dying, and that nearly opens up the discussion about killing between Hawkeye and Mockingbird again, but doesn't. It's taken as a given that killing is not cool even when dealing with this type of crime.
The whole situation drives Hawkeye to drinking big frothy glasses of beer at bedtime.
Lotus, meanwhile, "rewards" Prince.
I don't know what to make of Lotus. Milgrom and Heck's attempts to make her look sexy just come across as creepy. Gerber has an idea about her that she values reliability over everything else, so if she says she's going to do something, she does it, and she expects the same from others. That in itself is interesting. In the final issue we get some insight into her background. First up, she's a big Wonder Woman fan, and from that springs a kind of feminism, although it'll turn out to be warped.
She also keeps a pair of her father's fingers in a box.
The story there is that her father owed money to the mob after he had a downward spiral due to a traffic accident that resulted in the death of her mother. And the mob was going to cut off two of his fingers as payment, but instead he sold his daughter to them. The mob was run by a "Li Fong" (as far as i can see, no relation to the Mandarin lackey), and Lotus wound up getting raised by him, while also becoming his sex slave.
One day, Li Fong decided to let her strike out on her own. He offered her money as a parting gift, but instead she asked for her father's address.
So she tracked him down, cut off his two fingers, and killed him.
Interesting if disturbing elements in there, and Lotus will continue to be used as a character, notably in Wonder Man's solo series. And she'll later be revealed to actually be Lady Lotus, another "slinky oriental woman" stereotype of a character that debuted in the Invaders.
The gang that Hawkeye had been hunting were all killed in the napalm attack, leaving Hawkeye with nothing to do. But eventually Luis' mother gets out of the hospital, and Hawkeye and Mockingbird take the family out for lunch. While they're sitting at an outdoor table, Luis recognizes Prince as a former member of the gang. Hawkeye goes to confront him, but completely blows it by taking things way too casually instead of either taking Prince out quickly or waiting until he wasn't in a crowded civilian area.
So Luis' sister gets shot.
Not only that, but Hawkeye gets stunned, and Prince shoots a cop and then steals Hawekye's sky-cycle.
I mean, wow. What a blunder.
When Hawkeye catches up with Prince, Hawkeye gives a big speech about how even now he's not going to kill anyone.
And he's so busy doing that, Prince gets the drop on him again, and Hawkeye is only saved thanks to the "Terminizer".
Hawkeye doesn't let the kid take off his mask, and sends him home.
Hawkeye refuses to tell anyone who the Terminizer was, and the story ends on the depressing note that Luis will probably die by the year 2000 anyway.
The USAgent story puts him in the unlikely situation (after Captain America #327) of hunting down someone that is killing undocumented migrant workers coming in from Mexico.
We learn early on the that the killer is a cop, but we don't see his face yet. Investigating the situation, USAgent is given a tip from an administrator at the police station that knows that a priest is running a sanctuary movement at the Texas border. He goes there and is initially treated as hostile, with the priest thinking that USAgent is there to shut them down.
This is possibly an opportunity for growth for USAgent, or at least an opportunity to put him through some emotional conflict, but the truth is that he's acting on orders from General Haywerth and he just pushes aside his personal feelings on the matter.
USAgent learns from the priest that someone in the police department must be in on the killings, and so he returns to the police station. The likely culprit turns out to have relieved the cops that were on guard duty outside the hospital rooms of the surviving immigrants, and when USAgent gets to the hospital, they are dead.
Confusing matters a bit, it's implied that the rogue cop is really motivated by the fact that his "Chicano" girlfriend dumped him.
I feel like if you're going to do a story like this, you ought to do it for real and have the villain be a true anti-immigrant racist, not a jealous confused psychopath. I also think a story where USAgent explicitly didn't agree with illegal immigration while still trying to stop someone taking extreme measures to prevent it would have been a better story.
As the Hawkeye story did, the USAgent story makes an explicit comparison between super-villains and the more dangerous villains of the "real" world.
But USAgent's story does not have the same anti-Punisher feel to it. Quite the opposite, in fact.
The priest stops USAgent from killing the guy, but later another cop does have to kill him while USAgent is holding up some debris as the church burns down.
Both of these stories deserve some kudos for being more ambitious than the average Solo/Spotlight story, in terms of subject matter as well as format. But i think both stories fail in their attempts. The USAgent story, despite its longer length, doesn't spend any time examining the character of USAgent and is ultimately as inconsequential as any 11-pager would have been. And the Hawkeye story just seems to miss the point of the character as well as the genre we're working in. People that like Hawkeye like him for being a swashbuckling, fun adventurer. This story is anything but that, and it's not a case of putting that character in a darker environment for the contrast; if anything it ignores what makes the character who he is in order to shoehorn him into the story Gerber wanted to tell. And as much as i respect the idea of wanting to tell a serious crime story, there's really nothing here to that message beyond "real crime is more serious than what you kids read about in your superhero comics". What's the message here? Crime is bad, and it's a hard to solve problem. We didn't need six issues for that, and mixing it in with the pulp fiction origin for Lotus dilutes even what there is of a message. It's also funny that a lot of effort is put into giving Hawkeye this new costume, but it barely matters to the story, kind of similar to Hawkeye's "disguise". Despite having the room to plot out a single story over the course of these six issues, there sure are a lot of feints and false starts. The whole thing just really winds up being a misfire.
Statement of Ownership Total Paid Circulation: Average of Past 12 months = 113,300. Single issue closest to filing date = 91,300.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Scarlet Witch appears in issue #30, leaning on a nonreciprocating Vision for support while Hawkeye is in surgery, and Tigra and Iron Man are also in the room.
Issue #30 was printed in March, and probably no great thought was given to the various characters' status quos. But Scarlet Witch's turn to evil/insanity begins directly after Acts of Vengeance, in Avengers West Coast #55 (Feb 90) and that does not resolve for a while until circa issue #63. Meanwhile, Tigra turned feral and was shrunken down in Avengers West Coast #49 and isn't restored until Avengers Spotlight #38 (and returns to the West Coast book Avengers West Coast #66, which begins a story that ends with issue #68) . The MCP therefore place this Hawkeye story after Avengers West Coast #68. It can't go earlier than Avengers West Coast #49 since Iron Man doesn't rejoin the team until Avengers West Coast #50, and he had been on the outs earlier than that and it wouldn't work for him to be in the hospital room with the rest. So that winds up placing this arc in 1991. The Vision's appearance in this story - and he's shown living at the compound, not just visiting at the hospital - will have to be ruled as a temporary visit, since he quits the West Coast team for the East coat team circa Acts of Vengeance. Tony Stark appears out of costume, so this can't appear between Iron Man #258 and Iron Man #277. West Coast Avengers #69 is the first time that we see Hawkeye in his new armor, so this would have to take place before that.
A lot of time actually passes during the course of these issues ("three weeks" just for his recovery in the first issue, "a month" between issues #34 and #36), but i'm compressing it all into a single entry.
As for the USAgent story, the MCP places it earlier, but i prefer to keep split book stories together whenever possible, and his story is context free, except perhaps for the fact that he's still reporting to General Haywerth. So i'm assuming it takes place directly after his appearances in the Hawkeye story. Coincidentally, West Coast Avengers #69 is when USAgent stops reporting to Haywerth, so it fits prior to that issue just like the Hawkeye story.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (4): showHawkeye, Henry Pym, Human Torch (Golden Age), Iron Man, Lady Lotus, Mockingbird, Scarlet Witch, Tigra, USAgent, Vision, Wasp, Wonder Man
Misfire is right. The last hero in the world we need fighting LA gangs is the guy with the bow and arrows. You just get the feeling Gerber wanted to be "real-world relevant" and this was the only venue they gave him. And wow, Hawk-eye has the worst case of PIS on record.
Gotta respect that incredibly integrated gang.
I think this was one of the storylines that got me to give up comics.
Lotus Newmark is made Lady Lotus? Because they are both Asian and have Lotus in their names? How droll.
At least the US Agent story tried to pit the agent against a guy he'd pretty much agree with, I imagine. I could imagine Walker punching out illegal immigrants, instead of shooting them.
Posted by: kveto | May 11, 2015 3:52 PM
On a much lighter note, the killer in the USAgent story is wearing BD's football helmet from DOONESBURY.
Posted by: JP | May 11, 2015 4:06 PM
Yeah, the Hawkeye storyline is almost uniformly awful, but you can see the difference between Gerber trying to make a point and show some ambition and most of the preceding issues of the book just treading water. It's hard to defend it on any level, but it's at least interesting. Maybe. I might be alone in thinking that...
I'm pretty sure it takes a hell of a long time for the Avengers West Coast book to even acknowledge Hawkeye's costume change, but fortunately the continuity snafu this story causes means that it actually fits, continuity-wise.
Posted by: James M | May 11, 2015 6:10 PM
It looks to me that the difficulties Gerber had in bringing his point across resulted in his proposing the Foolkiller limited series. I still consider it his best work.
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | May 11, 2015 9:21 PM
Fnord, there's another wrinkle in the continuity. During the Terminus Factor, Clint and Bobbi are fighting again and they don't fully reconcile until around AWC 90 (and that turns out to be Skrull Bobbi). This story still works if you assume Clint and Bobbi temporarily reconciled.
Posted by: Michael | May 11, 2015 9:31 PM
Despite Hawkeye having no real super-powers and armed with bow and arrow, he is actually not a street level hero like Daredevil or even Spider-Man. Way back in his first appearance, he did face some street criminals, but everything about the character since then is in pure four color Earth's Mightiest Heroes mold. In order for his "everyman" persona to work, he needs to be around mutants, Asgardians, and heroes who can level mountains.
This failed attempt to reboot the character goes back to the original problem - what exactly is a Hawkeye solo series (although to be honest, this needs to be a Hawkeye & Mockingbird partnership series) supposed to be about? Who is his supporting cast? Who is his rogue's gallery? What are the themes and moods here?
There's a level of elevated 4 color heroics just above street level, but not at the world saving level. Spider-Man sometimes goes there (especially in his MTU days). The best Captain America stories are generally around that level. Master of Kung Fu had that milieu even if not the power level. If you take Hawkeye's experience and trick arrows and combine Mockingbird's international spy background, one could write a pretty fun series where the travel around the world and deal with those kinds of threats. Both being "normal" humans handling super-powered threats would be a good hook.
Posted by: Chris | May 11, 2015 9:47 PM
It is so strange to see USAgent having solo stories time and again. Makes about as much sense as having stories featuring, say, Living Laser. The character is neither heroic nor compelling.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | May 11, 2015 11:05 PM
Hey Micheal, so can we combine the Red Skull and the Red Ghost because do we really need two old European masterminds called Red? :-)
Posted by: kveto | May 12, 2015 5:59 PM
The Red Skull and the Red Ghost have completely different modus operandis, motivations,appearances, etc. Lady Lotus and Lotus Newmark are both generic Asian Dragon Ladies. Besides, European mastermind doesn't have the same Unfotunate Implications as Asian Dragon Lady. I'm all for Conservation of Asian Dragon Ladies.
Posted by: Michael | May 12, 2015 9:59 PM
@Michael, Clint and Bobbi DID reconcile temporarily--back in AVENGERS SPOTLIGHT #25. The two of them had been shown as back together ever since then in this series, as well as in Byrne's WCA run. The problem comes when Roy Thomas takes over, and either forgets or ignores that Hawkeye's solo adventures had already resolved the marriage issues, so he writes them as estranged and bickering again...before ultimately putting them back together again himself.
Posted by: Dermie | May 12, 2015 11:50 PM
Michael, please note the :-). The :-) should imply that the comment does not require refutation. By trying to seriously refute the :-) you force me to try to explain a joke which should not require explanation, which is so tedious it hardly merits a :-)
Posted by: kveto | May 13, 2015 4:04 PM
Except the point of the joke was (at least on the surface) making fun of the notion of combining the two Lotuses (Loti?) on what you considered flimsy grounds, and Michael is trying to explain why the situations aren't comparable and combining the two is perfectly justified in this case because the similarities go deeper than you implied in your first comment (or rather, their personalities don't go deeper than their similarities) and now I'm spending way too much time defending and explaining a response to a joke, except to say that sometimes jokes do merit serious refutation of their underlying message.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | May 13, 2015 6:24 PM
I've not read these issues, but I think the Hawkeye story is a riff on Mike Grell's mini GREEN ARROW: THE LONGBOW HUNTERS, and on the GREEN ARROW ongoing that followed it. I've read the mini, but not the ongoing. The shooting of Hawkeye could be a riff on the capture, torture and hospitalisation of Black Canary in the mini, and Lotus could be a riff on Shado, who was raised by the Yakuza to be an assassin. The bedtime scenes above could reflect Grell's depictions of GA's and Black Canary's sex life.
There's a synopsis of the mini at Wikipedia, and synopses of the issues of the mini and the ongoing at DC Wikia.
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | May 13, 2015 9:33 PM
Morgan, yes you definitely are spending way too much time defending and explaining a response to a joke.
Kinda the point of both my messages.
Posted by: kveto | May 14, 2015 12:57 AM
Posted by: kveto | May 14, 2015 1:01 AM
I don't agree that this story was a riff on the Longbow Hunters book--I bought that and the first few issues of GA's subsequent book, and street gang members only played a small part in Longbow(and they definitely weren't ultra-capable either; DC never really seemed to go that route).
Plus, GA mostly acted intelligently in that book(although the critics had other problems with the story), and the only way this story works is if Hawkeye has become as dumb as a box of hair.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | May 18, 2015 11:07 AM
As others have commented, I do get what Steve Gerber was attempting to do with this story. Unfortunately the execution of it is really unsuccessful, especially since it required Hawkeye to be a complete moron over and over again.
Lotus Newmark and Lady Lotus probably should not have been made the same character. Lotus Newmark's origin as given by Gerber here is totally at odds to the backstory that Don Glutt gave Lady Lotus in The Invaders. More of a problem is that Lotus Newmark is specifically Chinese-American, and Lady Lotus is Japanese American. Those are two completely different ethnic backgrounds. If you ever refer to someone who is Chinese as Japanese, or visa versa, you are almost certainly going to really piss them off.
Posted by: Ben Herman | May 31, 2015 5:05 PM
@Ben Herman, maybe I'm misremembering...but I thought Lady Lotus was always Japanese-American, but pretended to be Chinese-American in order to avoid anti-Japanese sentiment in WWII.
Posted by: Dermie | May 31, 2015 9:25 PM
@Dermie... Yes, Lady Lotus was Japanese-American. My point is that Lotus Newmark, in the origin given for her by Steve Gerber in Avengers Spotlight #36, was Chinese-American. So making the two of them one-and-the-same was basically combining a Japanese character and a Chinese character. Yes, Japanese and Chinese are both Asian, but those are still two different ethnicities. It is a bad idea, especially given the extremely tense historical relationship between those two countries. It would be like, oh, taking an English character and an Irish character and combining them, and then arguing that it's not a problem because they're both white and they have similar accents. Do you see what I'm saying?
Posted by: Ben Herman | May 31, 2015 10:34 PM
"I feel like if you're going to do a story like this, you ought to do it for real and have the villain be a true anti-immigrant racist, not a jealous confused psychopath"
Posted by: Michael | July 3, 2016 4:57 PM
I am really NOT a fan of the suggestion given here that a street gang is more dangerous than, say, the Masters of Evil. Whatever Gerber's intentions were, this story completely tosses the readers' crucial suspension of disbelief out the window. This is one of the major perils of having super-heroes confront real-world crime or social problems.
Posted by: Ben Herman | January 23, 2017 4:40 PM
"This is one of the major perils of having super-heroes confront real-world crime or social problems."
No, this is a peril of doing so in an ongoing, serial medium and not wanting to shake-up the "real life" status quo too much. I would love to see an ongoing superhero-verse where the heroes undertook a Squadron Supreme-type of "fix the world" agenda and SUCCEEDED, even if it meant their world was no longer one outside my window.
Posted by: Thanos6 | January 23, 2017 7:22 PM
@Thanos6: Yes, actually, I agree with you. It could be interesting. It would probably have to be in a series that was creator-owned, though.
Posted by: Ben Herman | January 24, 2017 1:55 PM
That was done by Alan Moore in Miracle man in the 80s.
Posted by: The Small Lebowski | December 23, 2017 1:06 PM
Seems to me the Hawkeye story is supporting the idea that the solution to street crime is guys like the Punisher isn't that the point of the whole failure of Hawkeye and no killing rule and the success of kid Punisher? Anyway, really dumb, as fnord points out, super villains often have gangs of guys with guns backing them, elevating street gangs smacks of Hillary Clinton style racism. And boy doesn't show how bad a writer Bendis is?
Posted by: OrangeDuke | December 23, 2017 3:38 PM
Super-villains are supposed to be more of a threat than ordinary criminals are. If you can't implement that, then you're doing it wrong. Gerber can be a great writer in certain circumstances, but he simply is not a superhero writer (except those at the edges of fantasy and horror).
Hawkeye has never been a street level super-hero despite his lack of powers. He does not have the skill set needed to be a Batman or Daredevil. Tactically he should be able to win fights, but he is not a detective nor is he a strategic thinker that can methodically take down an organization. Instead of this, it would have been interesting to see how Hawkeye had to learn the necessary skills in order to combat crime and come to the conclusion that it was best to leave this other superheroes who did possess the right skills and mindset (like the Shroud).
Posted by: Chris | December 23, 2017 4:55 PM
A general failure of the Hawkeye series in Avengers Spotlight is that no one has figured out a concept for Hawkeye when he is not with the team. Who is his supporting cast? What kind of villains make up his rogue's gallery? What kind of threats does his fight? Hawkeye is not a character who fights street crime. He could work well at the next stage up though - those normal, but seemingly superhuman villains who provide protection and back up to ordinary criminals (like the Hand, Batroc's Brigade, HYDRA agents, the crimelords of Madripoor, etc) in order to control them. Much more pulp level villains. Hawkeye and Mockingbird could then act like a strike team dealing with those threats so that ordinary police can do their job.
Posted by: Chris | December 23, 2017 4:59 PM
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