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Tales of Suspense 57
"Hawkeye, The Marksman!"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND September, 1964

(Originally Reviewed On 8/16/01)

Written By: Smiling STAN LEE
Illustrated By Sparkling DON HECK
Lettered By: Sterling SAM ROSEN
Reviewed By Snarling STEVE CHUNG

In the weapons factory at Stark International, The Golden Avenger has just saved an employee from a vat of molten steel, which was accidently tipped near a workman, and unknown to all, Iron Man is in reality Tony Stark, millionaire industrialist! (Holy Richie Rich, Batman! Don Heck really captures the startled look on the saved workman, while his co-workers marvel at Shell-Head's super save!)

Iron Man reminds the workman to be more careful, and the grateful employee shakes his hand, thankful that he's on the payroll, when Happy Hogan arrives with a plea for Shell-Head! Happy asks Iron Man if he'd ask Tony Stark to put a good word for him with Pepper Potts since she hasn't given him a date in weeks! (Holy Calendar Girl, Batman!) In his private office, Tony Stark removes his armor, save for the life-saving chestplate which keeps his injured heart beating, and wonders why he's feeling pangs of jealousy over Happy's request, when he, himself, doesn't dare get serious with Pepper due to his injury! Later in the day, Tony meets Pepper and asks her about a date, but believing that Tony is asking her, and not Happy, she accepts it, thrilled that the millionaire industrialist has noticed her, to the distress of a watching Happy Hogan! As she's deciding what to wear, Tony is unable to explain, and an unhappy Harold Hogan walks away... (Don Heck certainly captures the facial expressions of suave Tony Stark, Pretty Pepper Potts, and a dejected Happy Hogan!)

In the evening, Tony has taken Pepper on a date to Coney Island, where she is grateful to be with him anywhere, while Tony knew that he couldn't trust himself with her anywhere more romantic, and the sounds of the carnival barker captures their attention, as he tells the public to step up and see Hawkeye, The World's Greatest Marksman! Both Tony and Pepper watch as the young man shoots and hits the targets, but some in the audience jeer at the act and demand that the dancing girls come on next! (Holy Miss Kitty, Batman! So he can aim at them?) Suddenly, the flying pinwheel ride gets out of control and the audience watch as the disaster is in the making, and when Tony Stark tells Pepper that he has to call the factory, she can't believe what she's hearing! As he leaves, the gears shatter, but in seconds, Mr. Stark has gained his attache case, and has made the change to The Invincible Iron Man!

Using his armored strength, Shell-Head hangs onto the flying pinwheel, as he succeeds in having the machine grind to a halt! He races away and knows that he'll tell Pepper that Stark had Iron Man following them to Coney Island, as the general public believes that he does that anyway! Amid the appreciative audience, a pair of dissenting eyes watch The Golden Avenger leave, and Hawkeye The Marksman does not being ignored, and as he makes his way home, he knows that he could do the things that Iron Man does if he came up with a colorful costume and mechanical gimmicks! In his basement workshop, the marksman works on his arsenal and the garb which will be his trademark!

Two days pass, and the marksman works on his weaponry, coming up with specially-fitted tips for his arrows, guaranteed to have people never again sneer at his "performance." Since the bulk of adventurers are masked, he dons one as well, and although he lacks super-powers, asides from his accuracy with target shooting, he can use his arrows, such as the one which enable to travel from rooftop to rooftop!

The suction tip arrow and spring pulley enable him to travel swiftly, and he feels a thrill, so much so that he declares that he's holding the destiny in the palm of his gloved hands (which of course is not possible since he doesn't have gloves!) Below him, he sees a man emerging from a jewelry store with a sack of gems, but the next moment... TWANG! the man finds himself pinned to a telephone pole! Since Hawkeye was not trying to injure him, the crook gets free and runs off, while the marksman descends to examine the fallen gems, two police officers arrive and mistake him for a crook! (Holy Family Jewels, Batman! Hawkeye better get outta there before he finds out what good shots they are!)

Dropping the sack, Hawkeye flees, knowing that they won't believe him to be innocent, and as the officers recover the loot, he continues to run, as an oncoming car sees him, and the driver is quite taken by him! Opening the door, the driver offers him a lift, but Hawkeye wonders why she would stop for him! When he get in, he gets a closer look at the lovely motorist, who is none other than The Black Widow! (Holy I Love Lucy, Batman! This is back in the days when Natasha was a brunette!) Hawkeye believes himself to be dreaming, but she assures him that he's not! To The Black Widow, he's the ally that she's been looking for, while The Marksman is unaware that she's a foe of Iron Man, as well!

In the suburbs, she leads him to a subterranean laboratory, where she's confident that Hawkeye is unaware that she's a red spy! Hawkeye sees the lab and comments that she doesn't seem to be a scientist, and she tells him that it belongs to the person she rents from, not telling the marksman that it belongs to her communist masters, who provided it and the estate for her! Hawkeye examines the diagrams and sees that some of the designs could be used for his arrows, then wonders what she wants with him, and when The Black Widow tells him that she wants Iron Man defeated, Hawkeye assures her that he's as good as beaten, intent on winning her love in the bargain, but when he hears that she wishes no harm come to Shell-Head's employer, he decides to put a kibosh to that! In his factory, Tony Stark is distressed since he failed to show Pepper a good time on their date, and thinks that he'll offer her another night on the town, this time more romantic, and as he decides to ask her, he beams at the prospect of taking her to all the fine places in town, just to have the opportunity to gaze into those eyes of hers, but Tony catches himself, worried that he's starting to sound like a man in love, not to mention that he's wearing his chestplace in full view!

When he arrives, Tony sees Pepper and Happy having a discussion, with him asking her to go to the drive-in with him, but seeing Tony enter, Pepper decides to go with Happy to show Mr. Stark that she'd rather have a fun time than they did on last night's date! Outside of Stark's factory, Hawkeye lets fly his silent suction-tipped arrow, enabling him to get inside the factory in seconds! He enters a van which is passing a checkpoint!

Once the supply truck has passed, Hawkeye uses his rope arrow to climb up the wall, then heads for the door, where an explosive arrow (which The Black Widow set him up with) to breach it, just as the sound alerts Iron Man to the presence of an intruder, and he tells the factory guards to stay back while he checks it out! Hawkeye readies for a shot at The Golden Avenger, intent on winning The Black Widow's love!

Shell-Head is amazed to find himself coming under attack by arrows, whose tips contain a rusting agent, causing his armor to stiffen and become harder to move! Iron Man turns and hides, divesting himself of his armor, while Hawkeye searches for him! Iron Man sees Hawkeye from his vantage point and vows that although round one goes to his opponent, he will win the fight!

Hawkeye finds pieces of Iron Man's armor and decides to take it with him to the lab for analysis, while in another part of the factory, Tony has found a duplicate set of armor, and dons it, but finds that he's without his right boot assembly, leaving it vulnerable! Searching the factory, he finds it and dons it, just as he hears a car leave the area! Tony Stark had wondered how he'd be spending the evening with Happy and Pepper on their date, and now he knows that fate has solved that dilemma for him!

From the air, Shell-Head sees that there's only one car on the road leading from the factory, and he sees Hawkeye heading for La Guardia Airport! It seems to Iron Man that everytime he turns his back, he's under attack from a spy or costumed nut every month! Using his repulsor ray, the car is brought to a crashing halt! Hawkeye emerges from the car and wonders if this is the same Iron Man he fought, and since he's out of rusting fluid, he must rely on his other arrows! (I'm sure that Iron Man is all aquiver!) Iron Man uses his repulsor rays on the arrows...

Since his transistorized power won't maintain the repulsor ray, Iron Man switches to another attack,while Hawkeye is determined to beat him and not fail The Black Widow! Flying out of range of Hawkeye's arrows, Shell-Head readies for top speed and a power dive, while Hawkeye fires another type of arrow at him, one which snares him in strong nylon rope strands, which tangle him so that he can't use his repulsors in time!

A surge of power and Iron Man flexes his arms, breaking the ropes, while Hawkeye flees, only to have Shell-Head land with such force that the pier is smashed and the marksman is knocked onto a pole, which Iron Man grabs and uses it to send "Robin Hood" into the water! He drags Hawkeye from the water, just as The Black Widow emerges from her hiding place, and sees that Hawkeye has been less than successful! Thinking that Hawkeye is unconscious, Iron Man heads for his car to retrieve the stolen pieces of armor...

Hawkeye quits playing possum, then prepares to use his most formidable arrow of all, the demolition blast warhead, which The Black Widow helped him to assemble, and which he now takes aim at The Golden Avenger...

WHOOM! Due to the resiliency of his armor, the warhead richochets harmlessly from Iron Man's armor, only to have the impact strike The Black Widow instead! Seeing what has happened to her, Hawkeye takes her and heads for her boat, intending to get her to a doctor, just as a fog begins to roll in, and Shell-Head regains his senses! (Holy Love Boat, Batman!)

Iron Man recovers and sees the fleeing boat, as well as a brief glimpse of a girl, and as he gets aloft, Shell-Head realizes that he's near La Guardia Airport, where he doesn't dare be airborne since the planes are taking off and landing! (Holy Frequent Flier, Batman! Even Shell-Head is no match for disgruntled passengers, whose flights are cancelled!) Returning to his factory, he locks his office and changes back to Tony Stark, not knowing that he has been close to Madame Natasha, aka The Black Widow! With Pepper and Happy at the movies, and the skeleton crew at the factory, Tony knows that any repairs will have to wait until morning. Outside the factory, Tony takes a walk on the sandy beach, not knowing how to tell Pepper how much he cares about her, as well as how long his life-saving chest device will keep his injured heart beating! Millionaire industrialist Tony Stark must lead his life day-to-day, not knowing where the next threat will come from without... or within, and being one of the most tragic heroes the world has ever known!

I enjoy this period in Iron Man's early Silver Age,with Tony Stark's life depending on his chest-plate, plus his romance with Pepper Potts, and the art of Don Heck, which captures the personalities of the characters, from pretty Pepper Potts to The Beautiful Black Widow!

The Silver Age was a time when anyone could put on a costume and come up with a gimmick, such as is the case with Hawkeye. Nowadays, characters such as these are the first to perish in a company mult-part crossover. Sigh.

Nice to see Tony so much in love that he forget he was not covering his chestplate!

In Avengers #16, Hawkeye would become a member of Earth's Mightiest Heroes, alongside Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch, who were members of The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, and the three would be known as Cap's Kookie Quartet, but they would have their share of memorable adventures at the time, with The Swordsman (who tied into Hawkeye's origins), The Mandarin, Dr. Doom, Kang, and others.

With his struggle to keep himself alive and his relationship with Pepper, it was easy to sympathize with the character, whose courage shone through, as clearly as his armor gleamed in the sunlight.

This Review Is Dedicated to Rob Staeger

Steve Chung
"Hawkeye, The Review!"