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Hawkeye

Marvel Legends
by yo go re

Though it was a big trend in the mid-90s, villains turning to the side of good wasn't really anything new in the halls of Marvel Comics; some of their longest-standing heroes have shady pasts.

Clint Barton's parents were killed in an automobile accident, and the youngster placed in a state orphanage. At 14, Barton ran away to join a traveling carnival, where he was tutored by the Swordsman. For years, Barton practiced with the bow and arrow. Soon, he became a good enough trick-shooter to perform professionally under the name Hawkeye the Marksman. Witnessing Iron Man in action, Barton attempted to emulate the hero by donning a colorful costume and employing his archery skills to fight crime. Weeks later, Barton's attraction to the Black Widow led him to actually commit criminal acts. Hawkeye knew deep down he had strayed from his quest to become a hero. When he approached the Avengers, Iron Man sponsored his membership on the team.

Hawkeye lives life on the edge, straddling the line between right and wrong with a battle-ready swagger that masks an inner struggle for acceptance. For years he served as a valued member of the Avengers, his archery skills complementing his associates' superhuman powers.

Whenever he was on the team, Hawkeye brought a great sense of balance to the Avengers, a smartassed humanity that the other, iconic heroes lacked, which is why it's so great that we've gotten a figure of Hawkeye in the Marvel Legends line. There have been Hawkeye figures before, but never one this good.

At exactly 6" tall, Hawkeye fits in well with the rest of the ML Avengers. He moves at all the Legends-standard points: head, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hands, torso, waist, hips, knees, boots, ankles and toes. Of course, a lot of those are double joints, but a few of them are entirely unneccessary: he moves at both the top and bottom of the big, folded cuffs on his boots, when just one would have sufficed; additionally, his left hand isn't molded to hold his bow properly, and having a joint there just makes it harder.

Hawkeye's costume is a really good design, and has remained relatively unchanged over the years. The blue and purple colors are much less flashy than a lot of heroes. He's got a the straps and pouches that might mark him as an early-90s creation, but on him they make sense: he could carry specialized arrowheads in there, and they form a giant "H" logo on his chest, matching the one on his forehead. He's got a bit of chainmail on his shoulders, just like Captain America does, and his arms are bare, allowing for a maximum range of motion.

All this detail has been sculpted well by artist Sam Greenwell. Since he's got so many raised costume elements, Hawkeye couldn't just be another reused Marvel Legends body. He's even got the fingers of his right hand curled slightly, to draw his bowstring. The only thing I miss is the arm guard that Hawkeye sometimes wore as part of his costume - no real archer would be without one. The paint apps are good, as they always are: ToyBiz is the only company that consistently makes their production figures look like the prototypes.

Hawkeye comes with the accessories you'd expect: a bow, arrows and a quiver. The 4¾" bow is slightly technological, with a scope and a sight attached. The black string can be pulled back, and the arrows nocked upon it. The removable quiver is molded with three arrows inside and a collapsed bow strapped to the back. The six individual arrows have unique heads, including one that features Antman holding on to the end, giving us two Avengers in this pack and recreating one of the comic's most-remembered moments.

Like all the Marvel Legends, Hawkeye comes with a detailed base. His is the atomic steed he inherited from the Black Knight, a little one-man craft used to make sure the land-based Avenger can keep up with his flying teammates. 6" long and 4" wide, the skycycle uses a peg plugged into a stone base to simulate flight. However, unlike the prototype seen at Toy Fair, the base isn't just reused from the Silver Surfer - it's a brand-new piece. The bike itself is detailed nicely, and looks just like it did in the comics, which means no handles. Maybe he steers with his knees?

Hawkeye comes with a reprint of Avengers #223, which sees him and Antman teaming up against a circus full of crooks, and while there are better stories around, this one was chosen because it explains the Antman arrow included with the figure.

Hawkeye was a hell of a hero, always willing to take one for the team. In order to overcome an enemy's mind-control device, he stuck a sonic arrow in his own mouth, losing 80% of his hearing in the process. Most recently, he single-handedly saved the assembled Avengers from an alien battleship by grabbing a rocketpack and steering into the ship's engines. Let the wussies hide behind their super serums or iron armor - Hawkeye's a real hero.

-- 12/15/04


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