SPOILER WARNING: The following story contains major spoilers for “Civil War II” #3, on sale now.
Clint Barton is an archer and an an Avenger, but above all else he’s a hero. That’s what makes Hawkeye’s actions in “Civil War II” #3 all the more polarizing. Did he make a tough choice to do the right thing? Or did he make a huge mistake, one which could make the Marvel Universe a far more dangerous place?
In the third issue of Marvel Comics’ currently unfolding “Civil War II” event series, Hawkeye chose to kill Bruce Banner rather than allow him to transform into the Hulk and potentially kill everyone — a possible future revealed in a vision by the Inhuman Ulysses. This decision is especially interesting given that Hawkeye has spent much of his comic book career taking a very different stance on whether superheroes should kill.
In light of recent events, here are ten hilarious in hindsight (or at least gleefully ironic) Hawkeye quotes on taking a life.
11. “Some debts can’t be paid”
In the opening arc of “Solo Avengers” (by Tom DeFalco, M.D. Bright and Joe Rubinstein), Hawkeye was tormented by Trickshot, the man who trained Hawkeye in archery back when Clint Barton was in the carnival. As it turned out (as revealed in “Solo Avengers” #5), Trickshot was trying to force Hawkeye into killing him, because Trickshot was dying of cancer and wanted someone he respected to be the one to kill him. Even in this situation, seemingly faced with certain death, Hawkeye could not kill his former mentor. Though Trickshot begged Clint to kill him, Hawkeye refused, telling him, “No way, pal! Some debts can’t be paid.”
10. “Avengers can’t even appear to kill”
In “West Coast Avengers” #29 (by Steve Englehart, Al Milgrom and Mike Machlan), Moon Knight hunted down Taurus, the leader of the villainous Zodiac gang, after he escaped from the Avengers following their battle with Zodiac one issue earlier. They fought on a small plane while the aircraft was being guided by automatic pilot. Taurus managed to force Moon Knight from the plane (Moon Knight managed to use his cape as a glider to keep himself in the air long enough for Iron Man to rescue him) but the plane’s automatic pilot was knocked off-course and the plane crashed, killing Taurus in the crash. Hawkeye then lectured Moon Knight that his lone wolf behavior did not belong in the Avengers, but also that the fight could have looked like Moon Knight forced the plane to crash, and Avengers cannot give off even the appearance of killing.
9. “Avengers don’t kill!”
In “West Coast Avengers” #35 (by Steve Englehart, Al Milgrom and Mike Machlan), Hawkeye finally learned the truth of what happened between Mockingbird and the Phantom Rider when Mockingbird was stranded in the Old West during a previous Avengers mission. The Phantom Rider had drugged and raped her. She fought off the drugs and battled him near a cliff side. He fell off of the cliff and Mockingbird decided not to help save him, allowing him to fall to his death. She kept the truth from Hawkeye for a number of weeks because she was afraid of what he would do (since he had this whole “no killing” rule). When he later found out (told by the ghost of the Phantom Rider, just to screw with Mockingbird), he went off on her, screaming at her that Avengers don’t kill.
8. “I can’t condone death as an answer for anything!”
In “West Coast Avengers” #37 (by Steve Englehart, Al Milgrom and Mike Machlan), Hawkeye and Mockingbird continued their fight, as Hawkeye told her that he could not abide her allowing Phantom Rider to die, even after what the Phantom Rider did to her. He wouldn’t condone death as an answer for anything.
7. “I will never allow Avengers to kill!”
Later on in “West Coast Avengers” #37 (by Steve Englehart, Al Milgrom and Mike Machlan), Hawkeye’s stance on killing led to a fracture in the West Coast branch of the Avengers. When Hawkeye forced Mockingbird to leave, Tigra and Moon Knight sided with her, believing Hawkeye’s strict stance on killing was unreasonable. Hawkeye continued his hardline stance on killing, and even addressed the fact that he once accidentally killed the Avengers villain, Egghead, but explained that what he did was an accident. He would never allow Avengers to kill on purpose.
6. “Overcoming the impulse to kill makes you an Avenger”
In “Solo Avengers” #12 (by Tom DeFalco, Ralph Macchio, Ron Lim and Jose Marzan), Hawkeye improbably defeated the Abomination after first bluffing him that he was willing to use an arrow designed to break through Ultron’s exterior to kill the Abomination. The Abomination had telepathic powers, so he could tell that Hawkeye did desire his death. As it turned out, Hawkeye was bluffing that the arrow was the anti-Ultron one — it was instead an electo-shock arrow that knocked Abomination out (improbably). Hawkeye then gave a lecture about how all Abomination could sense was the instinct within everyone to kill. He explained that everyone has the impulse to kill, but restraining those urges makes you a man, and dominating those urges makes you an Avenger.
5. “Allowing the man who raped you to fall to his death = bloodthirsty rampage”
In “Avengers Spotlight” #22 (by Howard Mackie, Al Milgrom and Don Heck), Hawkeye and Mockingbird go to marriage counseling. As it turned out, the whole thing was a ruse by Crossfire to draw out Hawkeye as part of an elaborate revenge plan. However, Hawkeye and Mockingbird did not know that, and thus they began to argue before the counseling began and Hawkeye referred to Mockingbird allowing Phantom Rider to die after raping her as her going on a “bloodthirsty rampage.” Yikes, Hawkeye.
4. “That would be the easy way out”
In “Avengers Spotlight” #25 (by Howard Mackie, Al Milgrom and Tom Morgan), Hawkeye survived Crossfire’s multiple attempts to have him killed (with help from Mockingbird and Trickshot) and the Avenger had Crossfire cornered in the sewer above a large drop. Hawkeye knew Crossfire would never stop trying to hunt him down and kill him and as he stood there. Faced with the same situation Mockingbird found herself in with Phantom Rider, he considered letting Crossfire drop. Alas, Hawkeye couldn’t go through with it. However, at least going through a similar situation (although not really similar given the sexual assault involved in her case) helped allow Hawkeye to understand what Mockingbird went through better and he later apologized for being so unfeeling toward her regarding the entire ordeal.
3. “This isn’t how it’s supposed to be!”
In “Avengers” #346 (by Bob Harras, Steve Epting and Tom Palmer), two teams of Avengers converged on Hala after the Supreme Intelligence essentially nuked his own planet in an attempt to force an evolution upon whichever Kree survived. Earth’s Mightiest Heroes were split regarding whether they should then kill the Supreme Intelligence after he killed billions of innocents. The “pro-killing” side was led by Iron Man and the “anti-killing” side was led by Captain America. Hawkeye (in his Goliath costume for this mission) sided with Captain America and when their teammates returned after successfully killing the Supreme Intelligence, Hawkeye was aghast at what they had done.
2. “Wolverine will never be an Avenger”
In “Thunderbolts” #22 (by Kurt Busiek, Mark Bagley and Scott Hanna), Hawkeye took over as the leader of the Thunderbolts. Before he would officially head their team, however, he insisted that Mach-1 turn himself in to the authorities over an outstanding murder charge he had committed back when he was known as the Beetle. The other members of the team tried to plead Mach-1’s case, arguing that the Avengers don’t go hunting down other heroes that kill, like Wolverine or Paladin. Hawkeye countered that those heroes would never be Avengers, and as long as he was running the Thunderbolts, they wouldn’t be Thunderbolts either.
1. Extra Bonus Piece of Hindsight Hilarity
In “Thunderbolts” #34 (by Fabian Nicieza, Mark Bagley and Scott Hanna), Hawkeye publicly vowed that the Thunderbolts would take down the Hulk. Hawkeye did it to help the Thunderbolts’ image among the public. They did pretty well, all thing considered, but the Hulk was simply too powerful for the upstart squad. He knocked them out but then turned into Bruce Banner. Just then, Clay Brickford, a man who blamed the Hulk for his children being exposed to radiation (courtesy of a fight between the Hulk and the Missing Link), showed up to kill Banner. Hawkeye had a choice: let Banner be killed to prevent the Hulk from ever causing any more damage or save Banner. Hawkeye chose to save Banner by shooting him in the arm, thus knocking him out of the range of Clay’s weapon.
Which moment is the most ironic given what happened in “Civil War II”? Let us know what you think in the comments!
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