Yesterday we discussed Marvel’s questionable (this is me being polite) decision to declare The Whizzer — a 1940s superhero who’d spent maybe 10 minutes with The Avengers — as the official Avenger of Missouri.
Today I will make my case for the real Avenger of Missouri. I give you: Clinton Francis Barton, aka Hawkeye, aka Goliath, aka Ronin, aka Hawkguy.
Oh God, not another Hawkeye post. You really need to give your obsession with this fictional character a rest, Roy.
Hear me out. One of the reasons for my longtime love for Clint Barton was the knowledge that he was from my home state and not some New York elitist like all the others.
OK. You say he’s from Missouri. State your Case.
Gladly, your honor.
EXHIBIT A: AVENGERS 51, 1968.
Goliath (Hank Pym) is being electrocuted by a machine called the vibrotron. Hawkeye tries to pull it off of him and is thrown back against the wall. His response:
“That thing’s… got the kick …of a Missouri Mule!”
Now granted, that’s not birth certificate solid evidence, but why would anyone not from Missouri use a term like “the kick of a Missouri mule?” The more common expression is “that thing kicks like a mule.” Only Harry Truman would’ve thrown the word Missouri in there. It’s certainly not something someone from Iowa would say.
But for solid proof, I give you EXHIBIT B: Avengers 63, 1969.
Hank Pym has abandoned the Goliath identity for a new one, that of Yellowjacket. He’s trying to impress his teammates with his new powers but Hawkeye’s not having any of it.
“Mebbe so…but I’m still from Missouri, Insect-Man! Are you sure you didn’t switch identities just so’s you could sport a new suit?”
Now, c’mon. What more proof do you need? He comes out and says he’s from Missouri and even alludes to the state motto. Again, why would someone from Iowa claim to be from Missouri?
And finally, EXHIBIT C: Avengers 79, 1970.
By this time Clint has taken over Hank’s old gig as Goliath. In this panel he’s punching Power Man, who was just boasting about how he was going to clean Goliath’s clock. Clint’s response:
“Go ahead, tough guy! I’m from Missouri! Show Me!!”
Now not only is he bragging about his home state but he’s explicitly bringing up the state motto. How many people from Iowa would even know the Missouri state motto? Does Iowa even have a state motto?
I rest my case.
That’s a pretty solid case. Do any other Avengers talk about their home state as much as Hawkeye did in the Silver Age?
Nope. It’s pretty safe to say that Hawkeye is the only Avenger who spent that much time bragging about his home state. Thor talks about Asgard a lot, but that’s not a state.
I wonder why that is.
Well, I suspect the answer lies with the writer of The Avengers at the time. Roy Thomas grew up in Jackson, Missouri, and in the mid-60s moved to New York City to break into the comics business. He became Stan Lee’s number two, writing every book Stan couldn’t write anymore which eventually became almost all of them. He eventually became Stan’s successor as editor-in-chief at Marvel. During this time he did a long, memorable run on The Avengers and turned Hawkeye into a fellow Missourian.
So where did it all go wrong?
I’m not 100 percent certain, but all signs and my exhaustive investigative journalism skills point to The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. First published in 1982, the handbook was a 15-issue series that tried to compile all the stats and origin stories and whatnot for every character and organization in the Marvel Universe. Since these stories and stats change frequently, the handbooks were usually out of date by the time they were published.
It was here that some writer who hadn’t bother to do his homework, backed up by an editor who hadn’t done his job, listed Hawkeye’s birthplace as Waverly, Iowa. Why? I have no idea.
Well, I suspect it’s because Iowa is known as “the Hawkeye state” and the University of Iowa calls its sports teams “the Hawkeyes.” I’m sure Mark Gruenwald or somebody thought they were being too clever by having Hawkeye come from the Hawkeye state.
Too bad they couldn’t be bothered to read the comics to get the facts straight.