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CSBG Archive

The Abandoned An’ Forsaked – So the Sword Guy Taught You Archery?

Every week, we will be examining comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent). Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of The Abandoned An’ Forsaked. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

Today, we examine just who was it that taught Hawkeye archery…


In Avengers #19, Swordsman made his debut. When Hawkeye hears about him, he is freaked out. He explains why…

That was that standard origin for Hawkeye for years. Swordsman taught him archery. However, in 1987’s Solo Avengers #1, writer Tom DeFalco addressed the oddity of a SWORDSMAN teaching Hawkeye archery…

The next issue shows us Hawkeye’s revised origin….

Pretty funny retcon.

If you have any examples of abandoned and foresaken storylines, let me know at bcronin@comicbookresources.com.


I think this retcon works. Swordsman taught Clint archery…by turning him over to Trick Shot, who did the actual teaching while Swordsman supervised. So Avengers #19 wasn’t wrong, it just left out all the details.

“Than he probably doesn’t suspect Hawkeye is that boy from his past!”

Great grammar, Captain America.

Was it really that implausible that Swordsman would also know archery?

Was it really that implausible that Swordsman would also know archery?

Not implausible (again, it stood for decades), but just sounds weird. DeFalco did a good job of addressing it with Wonder Man’s comments in the Solo Avengers issue.

Maybe I’m missing a caption, but as far as I can see Hawkeye never says the Swordsman was the one who taught him archery in Avengers v.1 #19.

He says that he was into archery, yes, and that the Swordsman was his idol..but not that the Swordsman was his teacher.

I’m not sure anything has been overturned here.

Ah, never mind. Now I see the one line where the Swordsman says he spent a lot of time “teachin’ ” Hawkeye. Still, there’s plenty of room for DeFalco’s later retcon.

Agreed. It’s a good retcon.

It’s also amusing that they gave him an origin in #19, but waited another few dozen issues to actually give Hawkeye a real name. At least that’s how I remember it, when Barney showed up, right?

interesting i always wondered about that whole hawkeye learning archery from the swordsman when the guys name was he threw swords then getting changed to the swords man teaching him archery by having trick shot do it.espically wnen a version of the swords man was an avenger

I feel like comics have been in a rut with the whole modern-people-using-medieval-weaponry thing. Always arrows or swords, maybe an axe. Where are the spots for Maceman, Halberd and the Spearette in the Avengers?

I always assumed that Hawkeye was a self-taught archer and that the Swordsman just taught him showmanship and how to please the crowd at the carnival.

I don’t think the retcon was needed.

Swordsman just realized that Hawkeye had more of an aptitude for archery than sword play. The text even points out that Hawkeye cared greatly about archery. The “teaching” to me comes off more like a coach, the guy that keeps pushing you to be better, encouraging you, and discouraging bad habits. Something of a rival, a goal, a mentor, and a friend, all in one package. Mike Krzyzewski isn’t a basketball legend for his own talent as a player, but rather for Duke’s performance under his coaching.

One could also argue that Swordsman had little reason to try to get Hawkeye to excel in swords. Shooting a bow isn’t something that you are automatically great at, but at least it is possible for Hawkeye to learn enough to be useful to Swordsman in a reasonable time. Compare that to teaching him not only how to use a sword, but also all his throwing tricks. Plus, archery potentially covers more bases. And it doesn’t make Hawkeye an immediate threat, the way teaching him his personal livelihood might do. (The circus doesn’t necessarily need *two* guys who can throw a sword like a boomerang, after all. But a sword expert and an archery expert can more easily co-exist.)

so that’s trickshot. apparently he didn’t teach Clint about competitive eating.

One small retcon many people haven’t noticed- in the original story Clint claims he never knew his parents but in DeFalco’s version, he was orphaned after his father killed himself and his mother while driving drunk.

im more surprised and a little weirded out by how the panel with Wonderman eating the hot dog.

I always liked how Trick Shot was pudgy. I thought it made him seem more badass – he’s such a good archer he doesn’t even need to be in shape.

randypan the goatboy

February 20, 2012 at 6:13 am

I remember this story…almost. I remember trickshot being fat, But the rest of it is a blur.I always liked Hawkeye and I never could figure out why he couldn’t get his own book instead of wasted tree’s like Sleepwalker and Darkhawk…and Speedball…I could do more, but the last time I did this a lot of folks accused me of hating comics.

Don’t get me wrong, I love bad comics…i just love good cmics more and hawkeye deserved better than a mini or two.

I don’t understand why Hawkeye would want to lie about this, though. He’s actively trying to stop Mockingbird from asking about it – what dark secret is he concealing that keeps him from saying “Oh yeah, my archery training came from Swordmaster *and* this other archery dude at the circus”?

I’ve read the pre-retcon stories, but not the stuff from the ’80s. Is there a reason for Hawkeye wanting to keep it all a secret?

The first time I ever encountered the Swordsman was in Steve Englehart’s “The Celestial Madonna.” Right away, I was pretty sure it was just Hawkeye in a different costume.

Mike: Solo Avengers #2 makes his reasons clear, particularly in the last couple of pages. Clint is living in the shadow of Trick Shot’s promise that he will take all that is dear to him away once he builds a succesful life.

Hawkeye has had a few shots at an ongoing, but it never sold that well. Also, he was the star of Solo Avengers for quite a long time.

Master Mahan: I agree completely. But Trick Shot is apparently Marvel’s version of Amanda Waller. In superhero comics, you can only get away with not looking like an underwear model if you’re either a supporting character (like JJJ or Alfred) or officially disformed (like MODOK and the Penguin).

Hell, even Blue Beetle only got overweight in JLI so it could be milked for gags. That underwear-catalog view of reality is so commonplace in cape comics that when Atom Eve got chubby in “Invincible” it seemed downright revolutionary; where else can we find a superheroine who genuinely struggles with her weight? Invisible Woman never gained one single pound from getting pregnant, the JSA veterans all were fitter than Lance Armstrong despite their age (I can understand Jay Garrick being fit, but WHY keep 80-years-old non-athletic Alan Scott so unnaturally ripped?). Even Oracle, when she was still bound to the wheelchair, somehow retained her olympic-athlete fitness despite her inevitably static job or looking at computers all day.

Automatic fitness is a superpower more impressive than x-ray vision, my friends.

Argh. The penultimate sentence should’ve been “despite her inevitably static job OF looking at computers all day”.

I hate typos with the power of a thousand exploding suns, to quote a terrible character.

At least with Oracle they showed her engaging in vigorous regular exercise. I suppose it makes sense for a former Batgirl to keep in shape even after her injury.

Back tot he Swordsman, I always liked that he was introduced as a near-equal to Captain America. Even before he got the Mandarin’s gadgets added to his sword, he was a pretty tough dude.

And while Trickshot (or Trick Shot — it was spelled both ways, IIRC) didn’t teach Hawkeye about competetive eating, nobody bother to teach him grammar! “Teachin’ ” indeed!

Googam son of Goom

February 20, 2012 at 2:24 pm

I never had a problem with the Swordsman having multiple skills. People can coach or teach others to even if they aren’t doing it themselves. Think of olympic trainers and sports coaches. there skill is guiding, motivating and focusing the student.

This seems like a worthless retcon to me. Leave it to DeFalco I suppose.

randypan the goatboy

February 20, 2012 at 6:25 pm

really? I had no idea that marvel had tried that many times to put hawkeye on the grid… i did love his starring role in thunderbolts….maybe Hawkeye is just a better team guy

All I know is that I’ll never be able to read any Avengers comics featuring the Swordsman without “hearing” Timothy Dalton.

Does anybody know how Clint came to be the master all-around-Batman-level-badass who became “Ronin”? My familiarity with him is somewhat outdated, but he was generally out of options after his bow in the stories I know. In fact, that was the central point of his first mini series: “the weakest super hero.”

Sandwich Eater Lad

February 25, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Does anybody know how Clint came to be the master all-around-Batman-level-badass who became “Ronin”?

Years of work outs and training with Captian America will do that to you.

@Sandwich Eater Lad

You’re right. Prior to Bendis making Hawkeye into Ronin it was established that Clint learned martial arts from Captain America, also it was established he learned to use a sword from Swordsman. So while not on the level of a true samarai, Clint did have the skills to pass himself off as Ronin.

Thanks for the update, gents. That makes logical sense, but it’s nice to know that those the groundwork was laid in advance of the new identity. Like I mentioned, the Hawkeye of the Gruenwald mini was no where near qualified as a martial artist/kendo master.

People are capabale of being masters of two things. Obviously, Hawkeye would become more proficient in archery than the Swordsmen would.

I still don’t know what the deal is with people calling themselves Ronin. About the time ‘Ronin’ showed up in New Avengers I began to clock out on that series. What’s the point? What’s the point of the New Avengers going back to Japan to fight ninjas again (from what I’ve heard)?

What’s the point of Hawkeye changing his costume from the distinquished pointy masked guy we love to the goggles costume? Oh yeah, a movies coming out. Well, that’s more imporant. <—-Sarcasm.

Trickshot seems pretty lame to me as a character.

I didn’t know this was left in the dust. Heck, with the resurrection of Hawkeye’s criminally slanted brother, Barney, also proficient in archery as well, given the moniker Trick-Shot to boot by Norman Osborn. When the latter made him part of the new Dark Avengers. It was a good storyline, with all part of Trick-Shot’s plan to get Hawkeye to kill him in combat, going for a “suicide by cop” because Hawkeye’s mentor was dying of cancer. Later he returned to help the Avenger after his cancer went into remission when Crossfire attempted to have Hawkeye killed with an army of foes who he had fought throughout SOLO AVENGERS. Trick-Shot would be a nice addition to the Thunderbolts I’ve thought, in order to replace Hawkeye when he left.

And while Trickshot (or Trick Shot — it was spelled both ways, IIRC) didn’t teach Hawkeye about competetive eating, nobody bother to teach him grammar! “Teachin’ ” indeed!

Isn’t that more of an elocution rather than grammar issue? Also, I only noticed Swordsman using the pronunciation “teachin'” no?

@Michael: That sounds like it still goes pretty well with “now knowing his parents.” It’s kinda hard to get to know a dead person or an abusive drunk.

So a fat , drinking outta shape guy taught Hawkeye archery ? And this is somehow better ? I’ll just go that Swordsman taught him and leave this on the cutting room floor. Hawkeye needs a really , redefined origin really. Without a fat , drinking outta shape guy teaching him and coming back for revenge.

I really loved those Solo Avengers stories w/artwork by Mark Bright. But man, that dialogue is crummy…

[…] The Abandoned An' Forsaked – So the Sword Guy Taught You Archery? Swordsman taught him archery. However, in 1987?s Solo Avengers #1, writer Tom DeFalco addressed the oddity of a SWORDSMAN teaching Hawkeye archery… The next issue shows us Hawkeye's revised origin…. If you have any examples of abandoned and … Read more on Comic Book Resources […]

It makes perfect sense the Swordsman wouldn’t want Swordboy for a partner: Having a sidekick with a long-distance weapon is a better choice.
And yeah, as someone said above, assuming Hawkeye knew the boy and Swordsman’s “training” was showmanship or general coaching would work.
It’s certainly no more implausible than having two master criminals performing by apparent coincidence in the same big top. And Trickshot’s kind of bland.

Throwing your sword like a boomerang… Makes sense.

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