By Ben Morse
Through the years, the relationship between Hawkeye and Captain America has evolved from the early days of the young upstart constantly in the face of his stoic leader into one of mutual respect, but in many ways, Clint Barton still lives in the shadow of Steve Rogers. He seeks to live up to the ideals established by his patriotic peer, but also strives to maintain that contrarian aspect that makes him an asset to the Avengers.
On January 25, a key baton pass occurs in SECRET AVENGERS #21.1 by Rick Remender and Patrick Zircher when Cap hands over the reins of his black ops squad to Hawkeye, a leadership transition that continues into February’s issue #22—wherein Gabriel Hardman assumes regular art chores—and beyond. Almost immediately, Clint Barton will let his team know they’re not dealing with the old boss by any means.
“Where Captain America is an amazing field leader with real combat training, I see Hawkeye a bit more methodical and sneak,” says Remender. “I see him fitting the role of leader of a covert band of Avengers better than Steve in fact. Steve, to me, feels like the guy who should be leading the charge on the battlefield. Clint fits in the shadows skulking around looking for angles.
“However, when it comes to interpersonal relationships and dynamics, Clint is less of a traditional leader, less of a politician. He didn’t take any anger management courses before accepting the position. And in my mind he’s always overcompensating on some level for being viewed as the bottom of the A-list.”
While Hawkeye will still serve on the primary Avengers team saving the world in broad daylight, his responsibilities leading the Secret Avengers will draw on many skills Remender feels he has picked up over the course of an often challenging lifetime.
“He is methodical, he is a bit of a conniver and his skill set as an adventurer lends itself perfectly to this work,” the writer emphasizes. “Clint grew up in an orphanage after his world had been decimated, both parents killed, he ended up living and training in a circus, he was a super villain, he’s been around and knows how to survive ugly situations. Clint’s time running around with The Black Widow early in his career taught him quite a bit about black ops work, even though he’s never been a true fan of it.
“When I think about and Avenger leading a shadow squad to deal with threats before they bubble up, Hawkeye is just a natural fit for that role.”
Hawkeye founded the West Coast Avengers seeking to expand the mandate of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. As leader of the Thunderbolts, he attempted to guide former villains down the path of redemption and heroism. With the Secret Avengers, what goals does the Battling Bowman have in mind?
“To save the world, to keep the public safe from threats that would cause mass pandemonium, to stop all the killing and to keep everything they do secret,” lists Remender. “Clint and Hank Pym have been working closely to develop a subatomic jail where they can contain enemy combatants whose existence and operations cannot be made public knowledge. This grows out of Clint’s desire to avoid taking life, to be a hero.
“He and the Avengers have succumbed to fatal methodology in the past, and there will always be a situation that demands someone be taken down hard, but Clint wants to run the show in a fashion that makes him feel like a hero—killing people doesn’t feel heroic to anyone. So with this ‘Antkatraz’ prison he hopes to be able to achieve the same goals without resorting to murder. And believe me I’ll be putting that to the test.”
Hawkeye Digital Comics Spotlight
TALES OF SUSPENSE #57: The first appearance of Hawkeye
AVENGERS (1963) #16: Hawkeye joins the Avengers
AVENGERS #189: Away from the Avengers, Hawkeye pursues solo heroics
THUNDERBOLTS #44: Hawkeye and his new team, the Thunderbolts, team with the Avengers against Count Nefaria
NEW AVENGERS: THE REUNION #1: As Ronin, Clint Barton gets reacquainted with his estranged wife, Mockingbird
Stay tuned for more Secret Avengers Spotlight and be sure to get SECRET AVENGERS #21.1 on January 25!