Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Hawkeyes for the Home (Pt.2)

The West Coast Avengers was one of the first comic titles I started collecting religiously as a kid. Every month I would eagerly surrender my 25 pesos (a little under 50 cents) for the latest issue. There were many reasons why I enjoyed this title, month to month, the writing and art were consistently good, but the main reason was because it featured one of my favorite superheroes as the leader of the team…the avenging archer, Hawkeye.

Hawkeye has been a favorite of mine since God knows when, so it would come to no surprise that I’ve obtained a number of plastic versions of my favorite Avenger over the years. Let me tell you about them…..

When it came to collecting superhero action figures, you could say I came rather late in the game. I missed out on the classic Super Powers and Secret Wars of the 80’s and the endless legions of Toybiz action figures of the 90s. I actually started buying superhero action figures back in 2008-09 when Hasbro launched their 3.75 Marvel Universe line. Now Hawkeye wasn’t one of the first characters released, and when he finally was, he unfortunately came in a comic 2 pack with Wrecking Crew member Pile Driver. Of course, this “inconvenience” didn’t stop me and I eagerly scooped up the 2 pack, Pile Driver and all. (And of course in true collectors fashion, a year later I had the rest of the Wrecking Crew as well.) Anyway, back to Hawkeye, there really isn’t much to say except this is the classic no frills Hawkeye that any self-respecting toy collecting Hawkeye fan must have in their collection.

A few years later when I started cherry picking from the larger scaled Marvel Legends line, I of course got their version of Hawkeye. While the detail of this figure is miles better than the smaller 3.75 version, the design is a bit of an anomaly. It’s not quite the classic version but close enough in my opinion.

When Marvel studios went full gear on their cinematic universe, actor Jeremy Renner was cast to bring Hawkeye to life on the screen. While he initially didn’t strike me as the ideal Hawkeye, I think he’s since done an admirable job with the role, even if it is based more on the Ultimate version (hang on I’ll get to this in a bit). Anyway, with the Avengers movie came new Avengers toys and of course I scooped up a Jeremy Renner/Hawkeye action figure….along with the rest of the Avengers of course. I opted for the simpler (and cheaper) 3.75” version. Although it lacks some crucial points of articulation, the sculpt is pretty good and bears a decent likeness to the actor.

Ok now we move onto the more interesting versions of Hawkeye in my collection.

A few years back, in the comics, Hawkeye died. And of course a few months later, in true comics fashion, he came back to life. But by the time he came back, he didn’t quite feel like returning to role of Hawkeye (plus while he was dead, another hero took up the mantle of Hawkeye). So he took up a new identity, that of the mysterious swordsman/ninja Ronin. It’s a testament to just how skilled Hawkeye really was, that he actually ditched his signature weapon in exchange for another and still managed to be quite effective. Naturally, when a Ronin toy was released I got that one too.

Now this version of Hawkeye, looks almost identical to my original Marvel Universe version, except if you look closer, he’s got a more evil looking headsculpt. Well, that’s because this is actually evil Hawkeye….or more precisely, super villain and Daredevil arch nemesis Bullseye posing as Hawkeye. I won’t go into details but in one of the major comic crossovers a few years back called Dark Reign, Spiderman enemy Norman Osborne basically takes over the Government sanctioned superhero community and forms his own squad of Avengers composed of…you guessed it, super villains. Bullseye makes a perfect match for Hawkeye since he has the uncanny ability to make practically anything that can be thrown into a deadly weapon. Add to the fact that he never misses…it isn’t too much of a stretch to believe he can easily be a deadly archer if he so chooses to be.

Now a few paragraphs back I mentioned how the movie Hawkeye played by Jeremy Renner was based more on the Ultimate version. Now for those unfamiliar, the Ultimate Universe was an alternate reality created by Marvel that retold the origins of all their classic heroes in a modern day setting. The whole point of this universe is that it’s supposed to be more realistic and relatable to today’s readers. And in this universe, before joining the Avengers, Hawkeye actually starts out as an agent of SHIELD (actually it was the Ultimate universe that started the idea that the Avengers were founded by SHIELD). Another interesting difference between the classic and ultimate version though is that this Hawkeye actually does have superhuman powers. And that’s the ability to turn anything that can be thrown into a deadly weapon and he basically never misses. Sound familiar? Although the power set is basically the same, this is not Bullseye, just the ultimate badass version of Hawkeye. And just how badass was he? In one storyline he was taken captive, and in order to free himself, he managed to remove his fingernails and used them as projectiles to take down his guards. This Hawkeye doesn’t use guns because he feels it would unfair to his enemies…now that’s badass.

Now of course no Hawkeye collection would be complete without some Lego(ish) representation. Now I say “ish” cuz well…these aren’t Lego, they’re knockoffs but good enough for me. They were cheap enough, selling for about 75 cents each, and their quality is quite good. So from right to left I got the modern comic book version, the classic version and finally the movie (Renner) version. Oh and I also got myself a bootleg Hawkeye with skycycle (hawk-cycle?) for good measure ☺

Finally, we have the last two pieces in my collection. These two hold the distinction of being the definitive versions of Hawkeye in my eyes. Both of these come from the Marvel Select line, which is a line really aimed at adult collectors. They’re slightly larger than the retail 6” Legends line and possess far more detailed sculpts. Now I definitely do not collect this line, but for Hawkeye, I made the exception. First off is, you guessed it, the classic version of Hawkeye. He comes with an amazingly sculpted diorama stand of a vanquished Ultron. How he managed to defeat Ultron is beyond me but that’s not the point, it looks amazingly cool. As an added bonus, they even added a tiny sculpted Wasp sitting on one of his arrows.

In 2012, after numerous failed solo series attempts, Marvel finally hit the bullseye (see what I did there?) and launched a successful and critically acclaimed Hawkeye series. This was written by Matt Fraction and drawn by David Aja. It basically revolved around Hawkeye’s life away from the Avengers. What he did when he wasn’t out saving the world. Apparently he was out saving his neighborhood. All biases aside, it’s a really great series and I can’t recommend it enough.

This second Marvel Select version of Hawkeye is based off this comic. In it, Clint Barton (can you believe that after writing practically 2 whole blog entries on Hawkeye I’m only referring to his real identity NOW??? Tsk tsk ) sports a less flashy and more realistic and practical uniform. While I miss the classic version, I quite like this simpler version just as much. And this toy looks like it literally stepped out of the comic book pages.

He comes with a fantastic face sculpt which sports a wise-ass grin, roughed up hair and bandages (he gets beat up a lot in the comic) and his trusty companion Lucky (or Pizza Dog), whom he rescued from a gangster.

So there you have it, a rundown of all the Hawkeyes currently existing in my home. I know there are other versions out there, like the amazing (amazingly expensive) Hot Toys version and the more attainable Minimates versions (eventually these will be mine) but for the time being, I’m quite OK with the Hawkeyes that I’ve got in my collection. I don’t foresee myself getting any more versions of my favorite superhero, unless of course the release a toy version of this one…then all bets are off :P