Tales of Suspense (Vol. 1) #57

Credits:

Cover Date: September 1964

Cover Artist: Don Heck

“Hawkeye, the Marksman!”

Writer: Stan Lee

Penciller: Don Heck

Inker: Don Heck

What’s Going On?

A new would-be-hero, Hawkeye, is mistaken by police to be a villain. This leads to the Black Widow recruiting him and convincing him to kill her arch-enemy: Iron Man!

Details:

  • Over at Stark Industries, Happy Hogan (who doesn’t know Iron Man’s true identity) asks Iron Man to see if Tony Stark would try to convince Pepper Potts to go on a date with Happy.

  • Tony tries to do Happy this favor, but completely screws it up, accidentally asking Pepper out on a date, instead. Whoops.

  • Tony takes Pepper to the least romantic place he can think of: the carnival. Naturally, one of the rides malfunctions and Iron Man needs to make an appearance.

  • The carny marksman is jealous of the attention Iron Man gets from the crowd.

  • That marksman decides to fashion himself a costume, pack up some fancy trick arrows, and become the super-archer Hawkeye!

  • As Hawkeye tested his new persona out, he managed to stop a criminal. Unfortunately, some police arrive on the scene and mistake Hawkeye for a crook!

  • On the run from the cops, Hawkeye gets help from an unexpected source: the Black Widow!

  • Black Widow convinces Hawkeye to defeat Iron Man. Hawkeye agrees because…he is attracted to her?

  • Meanwhile, Tony Stark decides that he actually wants to date Pepper seriously. However, right after he decides to make his move, she accepts a date from Happy, hoping to make Tony jealous.

  • That night, Hawkeye sneaks into Stark Industries and sets off an explosion to draw Iron Man near. When Iron Man appears, Hawkeye strikes with arrows specifically designed for his enemy.

  • That only gives Hawkeye a momentary edge, though. After a quick change into his backup armor, Iron Man shows that Hawkeye is clearly overpowered.

  • …or is he?!? Hawkeye has a special weapon up his sleeve, one he hopes will destroy Iron Man.

  • That weapon wasn’t strong enough to pierce Iron Man’s armor, though, and the Black Widow was injured in the explosion. Hawkeye escapes with the Widow, hoping that by saving her, she will come to love him.

Is It Good?

It’s not terrible. I liked Hawkeye’s origin, but his willingness to kill for the Black Widow seems absolutely bizarre now. Their fight was okay, though.

What brings this issue down a few notches for me is the continuing mess that is the Tony-Pepper-Happy love triangle. Pepper is acting like a brat, and Tony is completely unsympathetic. Only the clueless Happy is worth rooting for, but he is only included to be awkward and provide comic relief. It’s just thoroughly bad.

Something else bothers me about this issue, too. I’m not a fan of Black Widow’s portrayal. I know she was introduced as a Mata Hari-type, but her second appearance made her seem like a capable and dangerous spy. This issue feels like a step back for her development.

Continuity:

  • This is the first appearance of Clint Barton, Hawkeye (although his real name isn’t mentioned here). Hawkeye is an expert marksman, whose preferred weapon is a bow and (oftentimes trick) arrow.

  • Apparently, Hawkeye has enough of a scientific background to be confident that he can understand the secrets behind Iron Man’s armor. I wonder when the notion of Hawkeye being a big brain gets dropped…

  • While it is used here as something that diverts objects, rather than an all-purpose energy ray, this is the first mention of Iron Man’s repulsor rays.

  • Black Widow last appeared in Tales of Suspense #53.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • Once, just once, it would be nice for this comic to explicitly explain what Tony’s problem is. Is he simply vain? Is he afraid of being pitied? Is this about protecting his alter ego? Does he feel that an impending death means that forming relationships would cause unnecessary heartbreaks? Is he afraid that sex would kill him by overstimulating his heart? Does he have erectile dysfunction, caused by his heart condition? HIS CHEST PLATE IS NOT AN ADEQUATE EXPLANATION.

  • The carnival: the least horny place on Earth

  • Tony is not good at secret identities.

  • Pepper, your last date took you to the damn carnival. Don’t pretend like you expect a fancy dinner every date.

  • Hawkeye changes from “I’m going to stop a thief and become a superhero” to “I’m going to kill a superhero to earn a woman’s love” very quickly.

  • Hawkeye, you just met her. Don’t be clingy, dude.

<<<Tales of Suspense #56

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