Saturday, June 12, 2010

Am I the Only One that thinks Hawkeye is a Wuss?

Things don't always have to be complicated. I can appreciate the simplicity of hitting someone in the torso with an axe, or crushing an opponent's helmed skull with the over-hand swing of a doesn't always have to be elaborate sword-play or intricate ambushes. Heck, simplicity is a good eight-tenths of my reason for playing B/X these days.

Green Arrow is nothing if not un-complicated.

At least, the Longbow Hunter version, which is where I really started to appreciate the guy. Oh, I suppose I first gained a bit of a crush (is that the right term?) on him with Frank Miller's Dark Knight graphic novel, in which he manages to help bring Superman down despite only having one arm. However, even as a young kid I always dug it when the emerald archer made an appearance on the Justice League cartoon, and there was a time when I really wanted a Green Arrow "action figure," even though I never really collected action figures (well, aside from Star Wars action figures, of which I had an extensive collection).

I could say it goes back to a love of the Errol Flynn Robin Hood, probably my 2nd favorite "medieval movie" of all time (my favorite medieval film is the 1959 version of Ivanhoe, hands down). But really, I've been into archery for a long time. As a kid, playing "ElfQuest" in the woods, I always got to be Strongbow, my favorite character from that particular comic (Cutter was such a doofus). I've been trying to get my wife to let me invest in an archery set for years...she gave on the knife-throwing, but not the compound bow.

My uncles in Montana all got into bow-hunting back in the 80's, as they found hunting deer and elk with a bow was much more "sporting" (I suppose after 20 years of hunting with a rifle, it is). I don't hunt myself (despite owning a pair of excellent beagle hounds) a real life pacifist, I don't even like to kill spiders...but if I did hunt, I wouldn't mind trying it with a bow.

[Of course, the one time I tried my 60-some year old grandfather's hunting compound, I couldn't get the string back more than a couple inches...I was 13 or 14 at the time]

Anyway, it seems like every "comic universe" as some form of archer in it: Green Arrow, Arsenal/Red Arrow, Hawkeye, the Bowman, Manticore...whatever. Like most folks of my generation, I have my North Node in the sign of Sagittarius...astrologically, that would say I aspire to be an archer (or a book publisher...go figure). That may account for people's interest in superhero archery (age and interest coinciding)...but it may just be that Robin Hood/vigilante hero tie-in.

Though if the latter were the case, wouldn't we expect to see more swordsmen/fencers in comics? A la Zorro? The sword is (generally speaking) just as deadly as the bow and arrow when wielded with skill.

Well, regardless, I am a fan of Green Arrow...and NOT a fan of Marvel's Hawkeye.

His "make-over" in the Ultimate comics was fairly cool...until he somehow got turned into a "Bullseye-Hawkeye" combo. I've said before that the writers of the Ultimates comic series appear to be familiar with the Heroes Unlimited RPG, as all their versions of classic superheroes could be made using the HU rules. "Ultimate Hawkeye" is a perfect example of the Ancient Weapon Master class (available in the Powers Unlimited 2 book). But killing people with one's own ripped-off fingernails is a little over-the-top...even for a Palladium game!
: )

The Welshman is a character I created for the City of Heroes MMORPG...a game I spent a couple weeks trying out a couple years ago. A Green Lantern knock-off, I decided on the name after having a couple dozen bow and arrow related names rejected by the computer game. Since then, the name (and the character concept) has grown on me. Part of my design goals for my B/X Supers game is having a rule system that allows for the design of both a long bow toting Welshman as well as the incredible Hulk and the invincible Iron Man...and still be able to compete on a semi-even playing field. I'm working on it.
; )


  1. I grew up as a Marvel fan, so I have to disagree. ;)

  2. When I was a kid, I had a Marvel Team Up with Hawkeye and Antman (the ex-thief Australian, not Hank Pym) where they teamed up against Taskmaster. It was a good comic, but I remember thinking, "why doesn't Taskmaster kick these guys asses?"

    Green Arrow + Huntress - Hearing = Hawkeye

  3. Ha! I always forget about the hearing thing, perhaps because they never mention it. I wonder if it's even still part of the character?

  4. I dig archer heroes too, but I don't see them being on the same 'power level' as energy beings and aliens. Striving for balance in superhero games is a time-honoured and utterly futile tradition.

    Don't worry about balance. Make archers (and boxers, knife jugglers, etc.) good at what they do and cool but honestly... Making them the equal of the "bg guys" is just not worth the hassle.

    Anyone opting for an archer hero clearly likes the concept and isn't going to mind being a little further down the power ladder.
    My favourite hero, all-time, hands down was a Heroes Unlimited stage magician! The weakest O.C.C. of our campaign but great fun to play. I payed him before I was really into superheroes, so when I did start reading them heavily I appreciated the little guys more.

  5. Despite being a Marvel man myself, i have never really liked Hawkeye either. He seems like such a bland character. I was even more disapointed with him then normal after they brought him back from the dead and he assumed Daredevil / Echo's throw away identity "Ronin."

  6. Green Arrow has been more fun since that classic Denny O'Neill run on Green Arrow/Green Lantern. I think it has to do with his rampant liberalism. Then, in LONGBOW HUNTERS, Grell showed his gritty side. For my money, at least in the late80s/early 90's, Mike Grell was one of the best writer/artists in the biz.... Green Arrow, Jon Sable Freelance, The Warlard, even The Butcher (for a little while, at least...)

  7. @ Ix: I know that before PU2 and the Ancient Weapon Master class, I know several people used the Stage Magician class for making their "archer with trick arrows" character. Not a bad choice at all, with the right skill set.

    Just completely out-classed by a mutant with Invulnerability and Superhuman Strength.

  8. I didn't actually mean I used the stage magician as an archer. Just that the O.C.C. is very low-powered but still an awful lot of fun to play regardless, and I put the archer-types into the same group.

    Sure, you WILL be outclassed by the bricks and blasters, but I think most superhero fans are pretty aware of where an archetype sits on the scale of power and don't mind so much.

    The worst offender in most superhero games is power armour. Usually these are crushingly underpowered or difficult to use which really annoys players who want to live out Iron Man fantasies and wind up with a guy who Steel laughs at...

  9. @ Ix: Can you give me some game examples of games with problematic power armor (and specific issues in the game)? This is something I'm quite interested in, so I can rectify the issues in my game.


  10. Hmmm... Power Armour problems?

    Well, it often means buying attributes again. Your STR often doesn't impact the armour STR and so on. You have to rebuy a lot of things just to make the armour function at all.

    After that, there are issues with what the armour is presumed to have by the players (pilot ejectors, security systems, air supplies, etc.) that again are not default according to game systems.

    Finally, simply getting into and out of power armour or the ready access to your power armour can be a too-common concern. Now, obviously depriving the hero of his suit occasionally can be interesting, but missing lots of fights because of how long it takes to get ahold of your power suit? Crappy.

    Those are the mean and recurrent problems I've seen.

  11. I'm a Marvel guy and I never really liked Hawkeye. Of course, I never really liked GA either, so maybe I didn't like archers. For whatever reason, and I say this as someone who adores the Flynn Robin Hood, they always struck me as soemwhat silly. I know, I know--guys in pajamas are inherently silly. But I guess my suspension of disbelief breaks down for soem reason with archers. I just keep thinking, "Why doesn't he just use a gun, for heaven's sake?"

    That said, Green Arrow has become much more interesting over the years in the ways mentioned. I also liked the version of Justice League International and the version on Brave and the Bold, so maybe I'm coming around.

    Hawkeye, on the other hand, seemed terribly whiny to me. His carping at Capt. America was just annoying.

  12. Hawkeye had some cool moments back when such things rarely happened in comics. In Secret Wars, one of the Wrecking Crew laughs at the guy with just a bow until he explains the speed and force of a bow at close range and then proceeds to sink an arrow in the villain.
    Or in his solo series he was cornered by Abomination and he pulls out an adamantium arrow and threatens to sink it in the villains brain. Hawkeye was just as badass as Green Arrow, he just never waivered from his convictions.

  13. I encourage you to develop your passion for mastering the bow. Practicing with weapons will give strength to your body, steadiness to your hand and control over your mind.

  14. @ Ix: In my game, your strength is your strength and DOES affect your strength in Power Armor. More Shall Be Revealed!

    The complications with getting in-n-out of armor are factored into the "cost" of the power...the trade-off for being able to incorporate certain gimmicks as well the opportunity sleep in a normal bed at night.

    @ Matt: Bow and arrow = stealthy? Just throwing that out there.

    @ Rich: I DID collect the first series of Secret Wars as a kid (they were published concurrently with the publication of Marvel Superheroes RPG, after all!), and I remember well the scene you describe, as well as Hawkeye "whittling arrows." I just wonder where he was getting the damn feathers.

    @ By The Sword: I could probably get a "steadier hand" just by laying off the coffee, but I certainly would like to pursue my mastery of the bow. If only I didn't have to drive out to BFE to get to the archery range!
    ; )