Fans nowadays primarily know Hawkeye as a wisecracking Avenger and marksman extraordinaire, one with luck so bad that he sometimes makes Spider-Man's troubled life look charmed. Through all of his trials and tribulations, ol' Clint Barton always comes out on the other end with a smirk on his face and a quiver full of quips. Considering how heroic Hawkeye seems nowadays, readers might be surprised to learn that he started out his career by getting on Iron Man's bad side.
Hawkeye first appeared 50 years ago this month in TALES OF SUSPENSE #57 by Stan Lee and Don Heck. After accidentally asking his secretary Pepper Potts out on a date, Tony Stark tried to wreck the mood by taking the lady to the least romantic place he could think of: Coney Island. There they came across an archer in a Davy Crockett get up.
Even though Clint Barton hit all of his targets, he failed to impress the crowd. Barton's ego became even more bruised when everyone's attention turned away from him to a malfunctioning carnival ride. Iron Man showed up to save the day, thus giving Clint an idea. If he wanted Iron Man-level attention, he'd have to get himself an Iron Man-esque dual identity.
Armed with his trusty bow and a quiver filled with tricked out arrows, Barton transformed into Hawkeye – New York City's newest crime fighter! At least, that's what Hawkeye intended. He took out a jewel thief during his first patrol, but a couple of policemen mistakenly pegged him as accomplice. Angry and on the run from the cops, Hawkeye met the devious Black Widow.
Hawkeye fell hard and fast for the Russian super spy, hopping into her car and racing off to her hideout. Black Widow then hired Hawkeye to defeat the man that caused her most humiliating defeat – Iron Man. Hoping to impress the new object of his affection, Hawkeye busted into Stark's weapons factory on a mission to defeat the millionaire's ironclad "bodyguard."
Barton got the drop on Iron Man, pegging him with a few rust-inducing arrows. The masked archer grabbed a few discarded bits of Iron Man's armor and hightailed it back to his ride. Stark re-suited up in some rust-free Iron Man armor and followed the criminal to the docks. Their battle continued, with Hawkeye deploying even more trick arrows.
Iron Man immediately snapped free of the nylon rope and seemingly knocked Hawkeye out. But, just as soon as Iron Man turned his back, Hawkeye rolled over and revealed he still had one more arrow to unleash.
The demolition arrow ricocheted off of Iron Man and struck the Black Widow, who had arrived at the docks to check in on her new henchman. With his beloved Widow's life at risk, Hawkeye scooped his boss up in his arms and fled the scene. Iron Man had no way of knowing that two of his most annoying adversaries would eventually become Avengers mainstays. Odds are this awkward first encounter rarely comes up while all the involved parties are hanging out at Avengers Mansion.
For more of the Avenging Archer, check out HAWKEYE on Marvel Unlimited!