Kate: I… I watched it, Clint.
Clint: You shouldn’t have done that.
Kate: I know. I just went through so much, dressing up like Masque to get it that I—
Clint: Some things you can’t un-see, Kate. Ever.
Kate; You said you never killed anybody.
Clint: No I didn’t.
Kate: Pretty sure you did.
Clint: No, I didn’t, because that’d be lying. I will never lie to you, Kate. Ever. About Anything. Otherwise what’s the point?
Honesty is an interesting concept in the superhero paradigm. The gig practically runs on secret identities and misconceptions, on making people believe you are more than what you are. Hawkeye’s shtick has always thrown a wrench in that paradigm, because in many ways he seeks to be the truth. He speaks truth to power, no matter what the consequence—whether that means being flippant about Dr. Doom’s fashion choices or telling Steve Rogers when he’s making the wrong call. Clint isn’t always right, but when he’s part of a team he is often that second, questioning voice—is this really the best way to do this? And often it’s that doubt, that one question or jab, that turns how people think.
That doesn’t mean that Clint is a wholly honest person. He relies on tricks, has been known to cheat. And he’s lied, many times. But there’s a blunt, frank quality to the way he views the world. His secret ID has never really been a sticking point, and in recent years has fallen away entirely. He often says too much, gives away too much of the truth—because he’d rather talk openly than hide things, even at the cost of someone’s feelings.
Kate’s honesty is a little different, a variation on the theme. She’s equally frank, exceptionally strong-willed. One is reminded of that scene in Children’s Crusade—“No, Kate said what she meant to say.” She doesn’t need anyone else representing her or speaking for her because she knows her own mind and will never be shy to share it. Her honesty is both kind and aggressive; she isn’t duplicitous, but she also uses her opinion as a weapon and defense.
In this scene the two are meeting in the middle. They both acknowledge that they have their own opinions and will always think they are right. But a large part of Clint teaming up with Kate is that Kate talks back to him—she tells Clint when he’s wrong, like he tells everyone else when they’re wrong.
They don’t work as a team unless there’s honesty between them. And not the frank, thrown in your face truths that the Hawkeyes use against other people. No, it has to be something else, something more inherently understood between them. That’s why this issue tests this dynamic the most, because Kate doesn’t know, for a brief moment, whether she can trust Clint. And if she can’t, what’s the point?
So yes, Clint has killed before. It’s probably not a fact he’ll go around advertising, but it’s something Kate has to understand, especially as her own superhero narrative spirals out in the ways it has been.
From Hawkeye Volume 4 #05 (Matt Fraction & Javier Pulido)