Hawkeye’s New Team Is A Replacement Of The Most Tragic Avengers

This article contains SPOILERS for Thunderbolts #1

Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, is the leader of a new team of superheroes, but he would rather be back with the most tragic group he was ever a part of: the West Coast Avengers. After falling out of grace with Captain America and the other Avengers due to his recent controversial approach to crime-fighting, Hawkeye wanted to put back together the West Coast Avengers and go “old school”, but instead he receives an offer from Luke Cage to lead a brand-new team of Thunderbolts.


After killing Bruce Banner, a rift grew between Clint and the rest of the superhero community. Obsessed with hunting the supervillain Hood, Hawkeye used borderline criminal methods that made him a pariah among the leaders of the superhuman community, including the Avengers. This is ironic, considering that once Clint was chosen to lead the first official “spinoff” Avengers team, the West Coast Avengers. Years later, Hawkeye also became the leader of the Thunderbolts, a team composed of former supervillains, due to his own past as a reformed criminal. At the present, the Thunderbolts are the only superteam legally sanctioned to operate in New York, and the newly elected mayor Luke Cage decided that Clint is the best man to lead them.

Thunderbolts #1, by Jim Zub, Sean Izaakse, and Java Tartaglia, begins with Hawkeye on the phone with Simon Williams, aka Wonder Man, another former West Coast Avenger who has not been part of a superhero team for a long time. Clint believes this could be the best time to put the gang back together and reform the West Coast Avengers with the original members. However, before he can convince Simon, Hawkeye gets a call from Luke Cage, who puts him in charge of the Thunderbolts. Clint accepts, but he finds out he has no say in the team’s members, so his plan to call upon Scarlet Witch, Vision, Tigra, and Wonder Man to reform the West Coast Avengers derails before it even starts. Hawkeye will then have to settle for the Thunderbolts, but it’s clear they are just a replacement.

It is actually surprising that Clint remembers his time in the West Coast Avengers fondly, as the team has a tragic history. During her time in the group, Wanda Maximoff experienced the dramatic events that would lead to her first mental breakdown, including discovering that her children were actually fabrications of her power. The Vision was kidnapped and dismantled by the US government, coming back without his former human emotions. Wonder Man refused to let the team use his brain patterns to restore the Vision’s personality (that was originally built upon them), because of his unrequited love for Wanda. Hawkeye himself experienced perhaps the biggest tragedy of them all, watching his wife Bobbi Morse, aka Mockingbird, die in front of his eyes, only to find out years later that she was actually a Skrull impersonator.

Despite all these tragedies, the West Coast Avengers are still a respected team that is remembered fondly, as proved by their recent (but short-lived) revival under the leadership of Clint’s protégé, Kate Bishop. However, Hawkeye will now have to focus on his duties as leader of the Thunderbolts, a group assembled by mayor Cage’s staff to be as much a marketing campaign as a superhero team. Fans of the West Coast Avengers will have to keep waiting to see if Hawkeye will actually bring the most tragic Avengers team ever back in action.

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