Let’s start with the splash page: Clint Barton and Bobbi Morse just saw the Batman movie. Neat.
In this story, Steve Gerber returns to Marvel and does a few radical things right off the bat. First, this book was an anthology style book that had multiple, self-contained stories in each issue, usually led by a Hawkeye story that often had some kind of issue-to-issue continuity. In issue #30, it’s a full-length Hawkeye story—for the first time since the book launched.
Also a subject of controversy: Focusing on Hawkeye. In fact, Marvel had recently run a poll on its letters page about whether Hawkeye should continue to be the star. So what did Steve Gerber do?
He shot him.
These issues are pretty bloody—a high body count—as Hawkeye and Mockingbird take on a gang of well-armed thugs who have no reservations about shooting civilians.
After he gets shot, Tony Stark designs a new costume for him that has armor plating, infrared targeting sensors, etc. Which kind of defeats the whole idea of Hawkeye, which is that he’s just a dude with a bow and some trick arrows, and yet he gets to fight Thanos and Korvac and all that. Still, it makes sense. If I was the least powerful Avenger and just got shot by a gangbanger, I’d want a power-up too.
Of course the heroes win in the end.
Issue #31, Gerber’s second issue in this story, returns to the standard Avengers Spotlight format by adding a USAgent story (covered separately), but Gerber actually has that story briefly touch the main Hawkeye story—adding a sense of integration between the two halves of the book. Nice touch.
As far as Hawkeye/Avengers Spotlight stories go, this is the best of the bunch. Not that that means it’s a great story—it’s just better than the others.
Creators: Steve Gerber, Al Milgrom