Monday, May 5, 2014

Hawkeye Limited Series #3 (November 1983)

Title: Beating The Odds
Cover: Mark Gruenwald, Bob Layton
Writer: Mark Gruenwald
Pencils: Mark Gruenwald
Inks: Danny Bulanadi
Background Assistant: Eliot Brown
Colors: Christie Scheele
Letters: Joe Rosen
Editor: Dennis O’Neil
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.60
Cover Date: November 1983
Release Date:  July 1983
Synopsis: Hawkeye and Mockingbird return to Mockingbird’s apartment from their mission at CTE, watched carefully from a nearby rooftop by two new villains Bombshell and Oddball.  The evil duo enjoys a brief moment of triumph when the apartment building blows up and they think that they’ve killed the heroes.  But, they soon spot Hawkeye and Mockingbird on the street below and realize that the heroes must have discovered their trap. 

With both heroes now homeless, Mockingbird declares that “All we have left is each other” and throws herself at Hawkeye.  Her sentiment is clearly not reciprocated and Hawkeye breaks the embrace after an awkward pause.  The heroes find an 8-Ball in the wreckage of Mockingbird’s apartment, concluding that it may be a clue to the culprits of the bombing and setting off to find their assailants.

After withdrawing Mockingbird’s last $97 from the ATM, the hard-luck heroes buy a set of arrows for Hawkeye at a local sporting goods store and then jump on the subway so that they can stake out the location that they identified during their search of CTE in the previous issue.  In true Marvel Universe style, the heroes bump into Steve Rogers on the subway, who offers to help his fellow Avenger.  Hawkeye declines out of pride, leaving Mockingbird guessing about Steve’s alter ego.

As Hawkeye and Mockingbird get off the subway, they are taunted by Oddball who hurls an 8-Ball at them and the chase is on.  The heroes run through the subway station after Oddball, who hurls an array of dangerous and deadly balls at them.  Mockingbird is ambushed and blasted unconscious by Bombshell and Hawkeye falls victim to her as well after an arduous and often humorous pursuit of Oddball through the subway system

The issue ends with the villains carrying the unconscious heroes out of the subway to their boss who apparentlys wants to use Hawkeye and Mockingbird in some kind of experiment.  To  be concluded next issue in Last Rites!

Source:  Kraalo Archives, Marvel Comics

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Hawkeye Limited Series #2 (October 1983)

Title: Point Blank!
Cover: Mark Gruenwald, Bob Layton
Writer: Mark Gruenwald
Pencils: Mark Gruenwald
Inks: Brett Breeding
Colors: Bob Sharen
Letters: Joe Rosen
Editor: Dennis O’Neil
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.60
Cover Date: October 1983
Release Date: June 1983
Synopsis:  Hawkeye was dealt a series of devastating blows – emotional, financial and physical – in Hawkeye #1 and the second issue of the limited series opens with the Avenger at a personal low.  Hawkeye returns to his apartment on his sky cycle, finding that it’s been completely emptied by the thugs at CTE.  Mockingbird makes a surprise appearance and they return to her apartment where she offers to mend his costume and she shares her obligatory origin story for the benefit of the readers. Exhausted, Hawkeye falls asleep and Mockingbird takes off to run some errands.

While Hawkeye rests, the masked assassin Silencer sneaks into Mockingbird’s apartment and puts a gun to the sleeping archer’s head. He wakes up in the nick of time and jumps to safety as Mockingbird returns and they drive the villain away. Hawkeye suits up in the new costume that Mockingbird made for him and the two heroes fly to Brooklyn on the archer’s sky cycle to visit his friend and former co-worker Jorge Latham, who offers them a clue about where they might find out what’s going at CTE.  Hawkeye and Mockingbird return to CTE where they break into a locked file room to start digging for evidence of the plot.

The Silencer surprises them in the act and Hawkeye takes the fight to him while Mockingbird continues searching the file room.  Hawkeye knocks the Silencer through the window and the two land on the archer’s sky cycle where they spar back and forth until the villain gets the upper hand and knocks Hawkeye down a smokestack.  As the Silencer stands atop the smokestack, wondering how he’s going to get down, Hawkeye manages to climb back to the top and turn the tables on the assassin. With the villain out of the picture, Hawkeye summons his sky cycle and returns to pick up Mockingbird.

Mockingbird was able to find detailed information on the mysterious party behind CTE’s nefarious plot that the two heroes will pursue next issue in Behind The 8-Ball!

Source:  Kraalo Archives, Marvel Comics

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Hawkeye Limited Series House Ad (September 1983)

Marvel put on a full-court press to promote the Hawkeye Limited Series in 1983. This house ad by Mark Gruenwald and Brett Breeding, which looks like it might have been a rough draft of the final cover to Hawkeye #1, appeared in Marvel's titles published in September and October 1983.

Source: Kraalo Archives

Hawkeye #1 Cover Art (September 1983)

Hawkeye #1 features what is easily one of the most iconic and most memorable images of Marvel's beloved bowman ever to grace a cover.  Artist Mark Gruenwald really nailed everything from Hawkeye's pose to the background and composition of the cover with Mockingbid approaching across the rooftops. Gruenwald's fantastic art for the Hawkeye Limited Series is all the more remarkable because the creator is best known for his body of work as an editor and writer with this series representing one of his few turns as an artist at the House of Ideas.

Source: The Marvel Comics of the 1980s

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Hawkeye Limited Series #1 (September 1983)

Cover: Mark Gruenwald, Brett Breeding
Writer: Mark Gruenwald
Pencils: Mark Gruenwald
Inks: Brett Breeding
Colors: Bob Sharen
Letters: Joe Rosen
Editor: Dennis O’Neil
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.60
Cover Date: September 1983
Release Date:  May 1983
Synopsis: In his time away from the Avengers, Hawkeye is employed as head of security at Cross Technological Enterprises, a technology conglomerate that competes with Stark International.  The issue opens with Hawkeye putting his security team through the paces of an assault drill while showing off his exceptional marksmanship, a dizzying array of trick arrows and his new flying rocket sled. The 11 year-old me loved every bit of this!

We meet Hawkeye’s new love interest, Shelia Danning, who is head of public relations at CTE.  Hawkeye reminisces about his past relationships with the Black Widow and Scarlet Witch and his lack of luck with love over the years, thinking that things are finally going his way.  While the couple settles in for a romantic evening in Clint Barton’s new apartment, Hawkeye shares his origin story with Shelia.   I’m not sure how much of this was already known, but it was definitely new to me at the time and a great synopsis of his back story.

After getting a security alert later that evening, Hawkeye heads back to CTE where he surprises an intruder in a vacant warehouse.  The intruder turns out to be Mockingbird, a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent turned hero, who was last seen in Marvel Team-Up #95 (July 1980).  As the two heroes spar, Mockingbird tries to convince Hawkeye that CTE is up to something sinister, but the CTE security crew shows up and takes Mockingbird into custody before they can talk any further.

Returning to his apartment, Hawkeye can’t shake the suspicion that Mockingbird may have been right, so against his better judgment and the temptation to spend the night with Shelia, Hawkeye returns to CTE to investigate.  No sooner does he start scouting around the warehouse than his security detail shows up and attacks the surprised bowman.  Hawkeye shoots out the lights in the warehouse and is confident that he can win the fight, but he surrenders when the security team reveal that they have Shelia as a hostage.

Hawkeye is tossed into a containment pit with Mockingbird. And, adding insult to injury, Shelia reveals her role in the plot and dishes out an absolutely scathing bit of character assassination.  “I could sooner love a dog than a cornball Romeo with delusions of adequacy like you.” Ouch! Initially incredulous, Hawkeye sinks to his knees in despair as the villains start to pump toxic sludge into the containment tank.  Mockingbird manages to roust Hawkeye from his self-pity and he summons his rocket sled to the rescue in the nick of time.

Hawkeye easily defeats the CTE security team and flies to Shelia’s apartment where he confronts her.  Shelia tells him that he’s fired and that CTE won’t rest until they get their revenge, but the hero can’t bring himself to harm his former lover.  The issue ends with Hawkeye and Mockingbird facing an uncertain future that feels all too real because it’s not just the hero/villain dynamic, it’s unemployment and heartbreak. To be continued next issue!

Source: Kraalo Archives, Marvel Comics

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Dakota North #5 (February 1987)

Title: Cats Among The Pigeons
Cover: Tony Salmons
Script: Martha Thomases
Art: Tony Salmons
Colors: Max Scheele
Letters: John Morelli
Editor: Larry Hama
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.75
Cover Date: February 1987
Release Date: October 1986
Synopsis: Dakota North #5 opens with Dakota, Amos and Ricky bound to chairs in Sheik Ibn Bheik’s Grindelwald, Switzerland castle after being captured at the end of the last issue. The Sheik’s henchmen search the prisoners but are unable to find the pen containing the top secret nerve gas that they’ve been seeking.  After explaining the situation to her very confused brother, Dakota goads the Sheik into attacking her with his hunting falcon and she manages to break free of her bonds after breaking her chair while dodging the vicious bird.

Back in New York, SJ North bickers with Major Cooper at length about the situation in which he’s placed Dakota and Ricky.  Major Cooper is amusingly nonchalant about the whole thing, saying “But SJ! The boy can’t do much damage! There’s only enough gas in the pen to wipe out a few city blocks!”  SJ North is not amused.  SJ learns from Mad Dog that Cleo Vanderlip is involved with the mystery. “Cleo Vanderlip!? I thought she was dead! If shes’s involved in this affair, then heaven help us!”  Clearly there’s some history between the two.

Heading west on an airplane over the Atlantic, Daisy Kane stresses that Cleo is going to kill her when she find how badly she messed up her job since she was supposed to trap Ricky, not fall for him.  In New York, fashion designer Luke Jacobson unveils his latest designs for Cleo who reacts badly when she sees that they all look like Dakota North. Luke says that he can’t get the detective out of his mind and that she’s the woman of the 1990s. While this exchange occurs, SJ North sets up for Rycom’s headquarters, determined to confront Cleo.

In Grindelwald, Dakota frees her brother from Sheik Ibn Bheik while Amos manages to trip the villain who is electrocuted by a TV when he falls in a puddle of water.  As the three fight against the Sheik’s henchmen, Ricky plucks the missing pen from the pocket of one of the minions where he hid it while they were being searched.  The boy threatens to unleash the nerve gas and the thugs surrender, providing the opportunity for Dakota, Amos and Ricky to make their escape to the Sheik’s garage where they find a fleet of cars read and waiting.

Dakota tells Amos that it was sweet of him to help, but he replies “Dakota, I didn’t put my job in jeopardy and traipse halfway around the world for a peck on the cheek.”  Cue the80's make out music.  As the three prepare to make their escape in a yellow Ferrari, Ricky realizes that the pen is missing.  One of the Sheik’s henchmen picked his pocket and now finds himself in a position of power for the first time in his life.  “I have the pen, now I shall rule the world!” he declares. “Not while I live, small one.” replies the Sheik.  The nerve gas is released in the ensuing scuffle, leaving all the villains dead.

Dakota, Amos and Ricky fly back to New York where they brief Major Cooper and Mad Dog on their adventures and Ricky reminds Coop that he still owes him $500.  Dakota and Amos plan a romantic evening and Ricky is thrilled when Daisy shows up, asking for him to hide her.  The issue ends the following morning with SJ North and Cleo who have obviously spent the evening catching up on lost time.  Their history is never revealed and it’s unclear what Martha Thomases had in mind as the last panel of the issue shows Cleo holding a fun behind SJ’s head while saying “Oh, Sam. Promise me you won’t hurt me again.”

Where teaser for the next issue would be, it says “This is where we usually put the blurb for the next issue, if there was a next issue, but there isn’t.”  Not even the Fashion Statements letters page had any further explanation, but we now know in retrospect that Dakota North was canceled due to lackluster sales.  Despite its many flaws, Dakota North as a series is a great artifact of the 1980s and an interesting attempt by Marvel to expand into a new genre.

Dakota North as a character remains active in the Marvel Universe and has appeared many times over the years, most recently in the fantastic Daredevil run by Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark where she played bodyguard and then love interest to Matt Murdock.  While the series ended after only five issues, colorist Gerry Turnbull had some fun with the Dakota North paper doll that appeared in Marvel Age Annual #2 (1986) and produced another three mock covers.  Michael Lark also did a number of great 80's inspired Dakota North commissions for me in in 2012.

Source: Kraalo Archives, Marvel Comics

Monday, December 23, 2013

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays from The Marvel Project! Christmas is almost upon us and we're feeling the warm embrace of the holiday season while looking forward to the New Year. Many thanks to Chris Giarrusso who did an amazing job on this year’s holiday card with a full complement of Mini Marvel characters caroling while the devious Dr. Doom tries to interfere with a snowball assault!  Click below to view a larger version of the card.  Excelsior!


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