Monday, January 13, 2014

Hawkeye: Earth's Mightiest Marksman (one-shot 1998) [COMICS]

The 1998 Hawkeye one-shot subtitled Earth's Mightiest Marksman begins with an explicit disclaimer that readers interested in "angst-ridden melodrama or sappy soap operatics" should choose another comic.  I've always found writer Tom DeFalco a mediocre scripter of forgettable super hero stories, and he fits this profile here; but in his defense, he does deliver, as promised, an angst-free and relatively action-packed comic.

The issue begins with Hawkeye training a couple of the Avengers' reserve members, Justice and Firestar, in what is the Avengers' equivalent of the X-Men's Danger Room.  A woman named Augusta Seger stops by Avengers Mansion and asks Hawkeye to help her safeguard a computer virus that she's accidentally created.  I'm not sure how Hawkeye thinks he can help, but he dutifully accompanies Seger to her office (in an abandoned warehouse!) and . . . TRAP!  Batroc, Machete, and Zaran leap out and attack.  After plenty of fisticuffs and arrow-i-cuffs, Hawkeye disposes of the trio and they get carted off to the big house.

Seger, however, has escaped (leaving behind the life-like mask she wore).  She travels to the jail where Batroc, et al., are being held, sets them free, and says their role in her plan is done.  Meanwhile, through some Googling, Hawkeye, Justice, and Firestar realize that Seger is actually a super-villainess named . . . wait for it . . . The Albino!  The heroic trio travel to the jail where Batroc is being held to interrogate him, but it turns out The Albino has set up another trap: this time, with "Oddball! The Master juggler turned costumed criminal!"  [I'm pretty sure Oddball is the Big Bad in the next Avengers movie . . .]  Once again, however, the heroes fight their way free of The Albino's trap.

It turns out, however, that both traps have really just been opportunities for The Albino's criminal companion, The Taskmaster, to watch the heroes in action.  Now, this part I didn't really understand, but there's something about how The Albino is an expert on human mutation and, in return for vast wealth, has promised Taskmaster that she can provide him with "real" superpowers as opposed to just mimicking the physical abilities of those he's seen in action.  The heroic trio are again lured into a trap, and, again I'm not sure why/how, this is important for The Albino's plan.  She is able to give Taskmaster real superpowers, but because the process is partially interrupted, it will only be temporary.  This then leads to a flying, cosmic-powered Taskmaster duking it out with Justice and Firestar while Hawkeye takes on The Albino.  Fortunately, the good guys win, and there's a cameo appearance of the New Warriors to boot.  Yay!

To be fair, the comic really probably isn't as bad as I've made it sound; but still, it's not particularly good.  If it's any consolation, according to the Marvel Chronology Project, The Albino never appeared again.

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