Crossfire: Envision it, Hawkeye, a private memorial service for you in my specially designed chapel. Who do you think will be in attendance? Certainly all of the Avengers, perhaps the Fantastic Four, Spider-man—?
Hawkeye: Nice bedtime story, but I’m not sleepy. Just one question, Crossy— how come I get the honor of being the bait for your trap?
Crossfire: I would think it was obvious, Hawkeye. You are the weakest, most vulnerable known costumed crimefighter in town.
Hawkeye: The… weakest, huh? Well, if I’m so weak, why haven’t you aced me already?
Crossfire: All in good time, archer. Before I have you killed, I have one prior use for you.
As far as single issues go, Hawkeye #04 is one of my favorites. There is something about its scope and tone that make it an almost perfect encapsulation of what Clint is all about. There are battles and challenges, moments of personal strength, and contemplations about Clint’s place in the universe. There are great character moments and of course, a heavy dose of romance. Best of all, even though the issue is the conclusion of a series, it reads as more of a beginning than an end. This makes sense, considering that another series was launched off of it. But even on its own, this issue hits all the right notes.
And so, to begin a little spam of the best moments in a great issue—the big bad’s monologue, for of course there must be one. Crossfire’s plan, which has been unfolding in the three previous issues, is to capture and kill Hawkeye, and then use his funeral to incite a destructive incident to discredit all superheroes. He’s going to do this using sonic technology that brainwashes those who hear it—basically, he was going to bug Clint’s body. And the prior use he mentions is testing that technology on Hawkeye—and Mockingbird—before he kills them.
Well, you might say, that all sounds very horrible. Why do we like this, again?
First off, in Crossfire’s charming monologue, we get the Hawkeye funeral that never was. Janet’s crying, Tony, Natasha and Steve are in the front row, and hell, even the Silver Surfer showed up. The genius of Crossfire’s plan is that he knows there’s only one way he’s going to get that many heroes in a room together. There’s only one thing they show up for, and that is a funeral.
Secondly, he makes the fight personal by failing to make it personal. By that, I mean that he has no motivation to target Clint specifically, and he says as much. Going after Hawkeye was strategic; he knew he could beat Clint, because he is only human and therefore vulnerable. So the three issues before this, in which Clint’s home is taken from him and his life targeted time and again, suddenly don’t mean very much. This man has no actual reason to want Clint dead—he just needs the body of a hero.
So of course now Clint has to beat him. He has to prove Crossfire wrong. What Crossfire doesn’t account for is how Clint can be a hero, even though he’s more vulnerable than the rest. And he also doesn’t account for Mockingbird, who fell into this mission on her own, rather than being manipulated like Clint.
From Hawkeye Volume 1 #04 (Mark Gruenwald)