Retro Review: Tales of Suspense 57 Featuring Hawkeye and Black Widow!

Greg Turner sets his wayback gaze upon the first appearance of Hawkeye in Tales of Suspense #57 from Marvel Comics, featuring Iron Man and the Black Widow.

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This week I’ve dug into my collection and come out with Tales of Suspense # 57, from Marvel Comics. It is cover dated September 1964 and features The Power of Iron Man! But that’s not why I pulled out this particular issue, nope! I pulled it out because it features the first appearance and origin of Hawkeye, the Marksman! And it also ties his origin in with another character, Natalia Romanova or Natasha Romanoff, also known as, the Black Widow, who had first appeared, just a short time earlier, in Tales of Suspense # 52, cover dated April 1964.

The cover is drawn by Don Heck and shows Iron Man surrounded by four Hawkeye figures and also a picture of the Black Widow in a small box. The issue is written by Stan Lee and both penciled and inked by Don Heck. And for those that care, it was lettered by sterling Sam Rosen.

The story opens with Iron Man saving the life of a worker at his weapons factory, from there he, as Tony Stark, ends up asking his secretary, Pepper Potts, out on a date. But rather than taking her out to a romantic dinner, he opts to take her to a Coney Island amusement park. It is there that Clint Barton is toiling as a sideshow marksman. His aim is always perfect, but he gets little respect from the paying customers!

Something goes wrong with one of the carnival rides and Tony changes into Iron Man and saves the day! Barton is filled with a burning jealousy and decides to come up with a costume and some specially- fitted arrowheads for his infallible arrows. Once that’s done he goes out looking for trouble and sees a man robbing a jewelry store. He stops the thief, but the police think he is the thief’s partner, so he is forced to flee!

As he’s running away a lady in a car offers him a ride. You guessed it; it’s the beautiful Natasha Romanoff, aka the Black Widow, who is a Russian communist spy. She convinces Hawkeye to assist her in taking down Iron Man. Infatuated with her, Hawkeye gladly takes on Iron Man and he gains the upper hand using a rust causing chemical arrowhead. Iron Man is forced to change his armor or have it lock up on him. Hawkeye thinks Iron Man has fled in shame and leaves.

But Tony has only changed into a new suit of armor and gives chase. Iron Man gains the upper hand in their next battle, or was Hawkeye only “playing possum”? As Hawkeye jumps up and shoots his most powerful arrow at Iron Man, but Tony deflects it and part of the blast strikes the observing Natasha, injuring her. Hawkeye breaks off the fight and rushes the Black Widow for medical attention.

Tony is unable to follow, due the fight being near the La Guardia airport and the flight patterns of planes taking off and landing. He is left to return to his home, not daring to confess his love for the girl he cares about, Pepper, and not knowing when and if, the mechanical chest device he wears will fail and end his life.

A fun issue, with Lee and Heck creating a new villain to fight Iron Man, who also appeared in Tales of Suspense numbers 60 and 64, of Tales of Suspense, before joining the side of the good guys in Avengers number 16, the following year, in May 1965. I give it four (4) out of five (5) Legion Flight Rings!

About Greg Turner

Greg Turner (@gregturner16) is Back to the Past’s archivist and an auctioneer. He writes the columns “Fabulous Finds” and “Retro Reviews” on alternating weeks for the website and spins classic 45′s each week for Vinyl Tuesdays.

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