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Steve Engleheart (writer), George Perez (penciler), Vince Colletta (inker), Tom Orzechowski (letterer), Janice Cohen (colorist), Marv Wolfman (editor)
In the year 1873, Thor, Moondragon and Immortus are confronted by a group of cowboys - Two-Gun Kid, Rawhide Kid, Kid Colt, Ringo Kid and the Night Rider. After a little confusion, Thor and Moondragon explain that they have come seeking Hawkeye and Kang, so the cowboys take them to the settlement of Tombstone, where Hawkeye is waiting. Hawkeye is pleased to see his teammates, and recounts how he ended up in the old West, and his encounter with Kang in the Timestream. The cowboys explain that Kang has somehow enslaved the people of Tombstone, and Immortus reveals to everyone that Kang’s plan to conquer the 20th century is to first conquer the 19th. Hawkeye has a plan, and suspects that Kang wants the uranium from the nearby mine. He knows there is a train that makes runs for the mine, and expects that Kang will attempt to steal the uranium. So, Hawkeye and the cowboys stand ready later that night as the train makes its journey, while Thor and Moondragon have positioned themselves as passengers on the train. A group of bandits try to board the train, but Hawkeye and the cowboys confront them and prevent them from stealing the uranium. Moondragon and Thor leave the train, to the shock of the passengers who witness Thor fly, after the bandits have all been captured, and Hawkeye announces that the next step in the plan is the assault on castle Kang! Meanwhile, in the present day, the Beast, the Scarlet Witch, Iron Man, the Vision, Captain America and Patsy Walker are the prisoner of Roxxon Oil and the Brand Corporation, who have the Squadron Supreme in their employ. Patsy and her ex-husband Buzz argue for a bit, but the Avengers cannot break free from their prison, until Captain America announces that he has a plan.
‘Hands up, owl hoots! This is the Rawhide Kid talkin’ at’cha!’ a cowboy exclaims from his horse as he and four others confront Thor and Mondragon of the Avengers and their uneasy companion, Immortus, aiming their guns at them. ‘Heed him, demons, or we shall destroy you where you stand!’ a ghoulish figure in white declares, while Thor, Moondragon and Immortus stare in awe. They are in the year 1973 searching for Hawkeye and their eternal nemesis, Kang, but they have found something else instead. ‘What manner of men are these, Thunder God? Can they not see who we are?’ Moondragon asks Thor, who replies ‘Of course they cannot, priestess! What is a god - to a cowboy?’ while Immortus tells Thor that his knowledge of his adopted land is faulty if he fails to recognize these men as more than mere “cowboys”.
Immortus reveals that next to the Rawhide Kid sit’s the Two-Gun Kid, and behind him, Kid Colt, while the original Night Rider, the ghoulish figure, is to his left, and at the rear, the Ringo Kid. ‘And here, Immortus, standeth the Norse God of Thunder - who doth detest firearms!’ Thor exclaims as he spins his mighty hammer overhead, and causes rain to fall and lightning blasts of strike the ground near where the cowboys are on their horses. The horses rise up onto their hind legs, while Ringo Kid tells Rawhide Kid that these rannies aren’t no ordinary owl hoots. ‘That’s for sure, Ringo!’ Rawhide agrees, adding that he figured that Hawkeye fella was loco enough. ‘Thor! Did you hear? They know about Hawkeye!’ Moondragon exclaims. Thor tells her that he heard, ‘And I say - enough!’ he shouts, holding his hammer out, the sky clears and rain subsides.
‘What kind of people are you?’ Two-Gun Kid asks after falling off his horse. ‘That will take some time. Do you know where Hawkeye is?’ Moondragon enquires as she stands over him. ‘Yes…’ Rawhide Kid begins, so Thor lifts the cowboy back onto his horse and declares that he must take them to him, as they have journeyed far to find him. ‘Even now, mortal danger doth close upon him!’ Thor adds. Moondragon climbs up behind Kid Colt on his horse, ‘Well? Let us begin!’ she exclaims, pointing forward. ‘Lissen, Ma’am, Ah ain’t ridin’ nowhere with a bald-headed female up behind!’ Kid Colt replies. ‘If you’d have me fly, Kid, I cannot! Ride on!’ Moondragon orders. Kid Colt ponders her words, until Thor actually does take to the air, and after that, the Western wranglers are only too glad to ride on, with Immortus also riding with another of the cowboys.
An hour’s gallop lifts them onto a mesa, giving plenty of time for thorough, if bewildering, introductions, and then - ‘Here we are!’ one of the cowboys exclaims as they arrive at a small settlement. Two-Gun Kid explains that down below is the town of Tombstone, where he usually hangs his spurs, and that they will have to “cat-foot-it” in from this point. ‘Why?’ Moondragon asks, but as everyone starts making their way down the steel slope, one of the cowboys exclaims ‘That, Ma’am, will take some time to tell’ ad the Ringo Kid reports that Night Rider will stay with the ponies, as he hates towns. Like shadows, they slip from the rocks and skulk down the wide, deserted streets - not a soul seems to stir in the town. But the gods from the future know there are people here - they can feel them, behind bolted shutters and darkened doors. They can feel their fear.
‘So far so food. This is a friend of mine’s office’ Two-Gun Kid claims as they enter the office of Matthew J Hawk, attorney, and Two-Gun Kid’s secret identity. ‘Hurry up in!’ he tells everyone. ‘Agreed, Two-Gun - but then - Odin’s blood!’ Thor exclaims as he steps into the office, where Clint “Hawkeye” Barton has been sitting at a desk. The handsome and shirtless hero leaps to his feet, bow and arrow ready: ‘Wh-? Only one person in the world talks like that! It can’t be - but it is!’ Hawkeye exclaims. Thor and Moondragon go over to their teammate, and Thor tells his friend that it is good to see him once more. ‘Doubled and redoubled, Sonuvodin’ Hawkeye smiles, while Moondragon asks him how it is that he came to be here. ‘Well, it’s not the kind of story I’d want to be remembered by - but here goes. If you remember, I was honked when I stalked out of Avengers Mansion -’ Hawkeye begins.
Flashback, narrated by Hawkeye:‘…and I didn’t cool down any while I flew to Doc Doom’s castle! Setting the time dials for the 12th Century… I tripped the switch in my inimitable style…and vanished - never once brothering to think about Kang!’ Hawkeye explains, recalling how, while floating through the Timestream, he came across Kang. At the time, he thought to himself the Avengers had done so much time traveling he was actually going to be bored - but that goofball Kang was waiting for him. Hawkeye realizes that the way Kang comes and goes, he probably knew Hawkeye would be making the trip before Hawkeye himself knew, and they each did their numbers against the other, with Hawkeye having worked up arrows since the Mantis debacle, so he tagged Kang with one of them, throwing both of them out of kilter somehow, and they went spinning toward a crazy glowing hole.
The next thing Hawkeye knew, he was standing in the desert, all by himself. It was spooky for him, and he could have been anywhere, at any time. So, Hawkeye got right on looking for civilization, trudging across the barren landscape - and he found it all right - but he didn’t believe it - a high-tech futuristic facility built up against the small settlement. And while he was still airing out his jaw, someone saw him and called out ‘There’s one of ‘em - another one o’ those men from Mars!’ Hawkeye turned to the old man, and tells him that he has it wrong - but the old man didn’t think so and he opened fire, so Hawkeye turned and ran, figuring that these people he just encountered must have been renegades, people who escaped the tow when the real “man from Mars” showed up. So, he ditched his tunic and mask, and cruised into town without drawing too much attention to himself. The town’s name was on half of the buildings, and his American history taught him who he would find there, as he showed up at the office of Matthew J Hawk, attorney.
Present / 1873:‘Wait a minute, Hawk! Does that mean all your friends know who I really am?’ Two-Gun Kid gasps, but Rawhide Kid tells him to simmer down, as nobody gives a hang, except him. ‘I know it not, nor I have the wish! A man’s secrets be sacred to my mind’ Thor replies, before pointing out that Hawkeye’s adventure has led them to their foe. ‘I have sworn that this battle shall be the last between him and us’ Thor announces, while Hawkeye asks what Immortus has to say about this. ‘He says nothing, wisely leaving our destinies to ourselves’ Moondragon explains. Ringo Kid announces that he doesn’t savvy half of what they are palavering about, but that if they are here for Kang, they are welcome. ‘That’s what Two-Gun rounded us up for. Trouble is, we ain’t got too far’ Rawhide explains, while Kid Colt reveals that Kang has taken over most everyone in Tombstone, made them into his slaves somehow. ‘If anybody even heard our ponies whinney, Kang would soon know about it! But worse than that - we heard him bellowing to the renegades that he could kill anybody in town just by pushing a button! It’s incredible!’ the cowboy exclaims.
‘But what could he want with this realm?’ Moondragon asks. Immortus suddenly opens his mouth to speak, announcing that he shall only speak but this once, adding that this knowledge will change nothing. ‘It is his newest master plan: To conquer the 20th Century, he will first conquer the 19th!’ Hawkeye tells the others that he figured the same, as it makes sense, in a perverted sort of way. ‘And if he does it, we’ll all cease to be!’ Hawkeye remarks, before announcing that he has a plan.
Meanwhile, in the present day, the plucky Patsy Walker finds herself imprisoned with Wanda Maximoff a.k.a. the Scarlet Witch, the Vision, Tony “Iron Man” Stark and Henry McCoy a.k.a. the Beast, the four being of the Avengers, with their inactive teammate Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America. The six are held in a cage raised off the ground in the center of a large room at the Brand Corporation. ‘It’s no use, Cap! I’ve tried every power this armor has, but I can’t break us free!’ Iron Man announces, adding that Doctor Spectrum’s power prism has formed a cage even stronger than he. And below on the ground, Doctor Spectrum and the rest of the Squadron Supreme - Golden Archer, Hyperion, Whizzer and Lady Lark - look up, as Hugh Jones, President of Roxxon Oil tells the Avengers that the Squadron was hired to protect his interests from any threat, and that the Avengers should never have trifled with Roxxon.
The android Vision examines the cage and remarks that the gem’s manifestations are more than merely the physical, for even his ethereal form cannot pass through the bars. The Beast frowns at Patsy and tells her that she hope she is happy, getting caught up in this. ‘I should never have let you hold me to our agreement!’ he exclaims, but Patsy smiles at the Beast and tells him not to be silly, as she loves it. ‘Yeah? And how about me, sweetheart?’ a handsome man in a uniform calls up at Patsy. ‘You’re a rat, Buzz Baxter! You’re nothing like the man I married - or even the man I divorced! You’ve changed!’ Patsy shouts down at her ex-husband, Colonel Buzz Baxter. ‘But I’m out here, baby - and you’re in there!’ Buzz calls back. Hugh Jones tells Baxter to do that on his own time, as their guests have more important matters to worry about - like why these heroes from another world are working for him, and what they will do next, he remarks, referring to the Squadron Supreme.
‘Seems like you should wonder what the Avengers will do next, Jones! No trap yet has held us forever’ Iron Man points out. ‘This will!’ Hyperion calls out, adding that it is about time the Avengers learned which of them is really the better team. ‘Listen you big palooka, they’ll get out of here! They will!’ Patsy shouts. ‘Sure, Patsy…sure thing!’ Buzz tells his ex-wife, before suggesting to the Squadron that they go, ‘We’re finished here’ he remarks. ‘I guess you can’t scare folks with words these days, huh?’ Patsy asks, hanging her head, while the Scarlet Witch puts a comforting hand on Patsy’s arm. ‘Sorry. It takes actions, just as it always has’ Cap replies, before announcing that he has a plan.
‘THERE!’ Kid Colt exclaims in the past, pointing at a location on a map. ‘The Pecos Train?’ Rawhide Kid asks. ‘You bet! You were telling me about a uranium mine it makes runs for’ Hawkeye reminds him, adding that they may not know all of Uranium’s uses ,but he does - and so does Kang. ‘Believe me, he’ll want it - especially since there’ll be no thought of guards’ Hawkeye explains. ‘Yet there shall be guards - yea, and justice, too!’ Thor calls out. ‘A shoot-out at a train robbery! Now that is what I’ve wished to see of Earth: the heritage of the American woman I might have been’ the mysterious woman remarks. ‘Uh, say, Hawk - who are these rannies, really?’ Kid Colt asks quietly. Hawkeye assures him that they are his friends, even if they are one-of-a-kind for any age. Hawkeye goes over to Thor and tells him that there is one thing: ‘Me and the Kids are cool - but one sight of you would tip Kang to what’s up!’ Hawkeye points out. Thor frowns and asks him if he means for them to remain behind. ‘Well…not exactly’ Hawkeye responds.
Nightfall, and a warm dry breeze stirs the Joshua trees and the crickets near the river start to sing, but suddenly, the Arizona quiet is cut with a clatter and a roar, as the Pecos train is dead on time - and so are six men on a butte! Hawkeye and the cowboys all on their horses wait on separate parts of the ridge overlooking the train tracks. While, inside the rocking boxcars, two more-or-less typical travelers sit tensely, Thor and Moondragon are in disguise, dressed in traditional clothing of the day, and up ahead on a bluff, seven very typical border town bandits await the arrival of their prey. ‘Let’s take ‘er boys! She’s as ripe for milking as a sow a week strayed!’ one of the bandits exclaims. The bandits then ride their horses down the side of the bluff, while Hawkeye sees them through binoculars and remarks ‘There go the slickers we’ve been waitin’ for. Don’t see Kang with ‘em though’. He decides that they don’t really need him, they will get what they want just the same. ‘Or my name’s not - the Hawkeye Kid!’ Clint declares as he fires an arrow into the night sky, which then explodes, sending a signal to the others. ‘The signal’ Two-Gun Kid thinks to himself, knowing that it is time to ride into action. ‘But who would have thought - that when I chose to maintain a secret identity, such people as “The Avengers” would follow! Gods! I’ve met gods!’ he reminds himself.
‘I don’t like that flare, boys! Grab the box and hightail it!’ one of the bandits calls out to the others after seeing the arrow light up the sky. They ride their horses alongside the train, as the man called Ace, despite his crisp commands, is still not overly worried - he knows the risks of robbery and sudden frontier justice. But he also knows his colt .45 and fires it into the train, the bullets narrowly missing a passenger in his seat. ‘Art thou learning sufficiently, priestess?’ Thor asks Moondragon, who replies that she is, indeed ‘This is invigorating’ Moondragon adds.
The locomotive tips dangerously close to too fast a speed for the curves, and the raiders never lose an inch, as one of them, Ace, leaps from his horse to the engineer car. ‘Getcher hands off’n that throttle, engineer!’ he orders as he lands on the train. ‘Now yew don’t wanna talk to the man like that, Ace! What would we do with all this nice coal?’ a voice calls out. Ace spins his head and sees the Rawhide Kid lying back on the coal. ‘How long it’s been, yew polecat? Since Jasper Junction, I reckon!’ Rawhide smiles, weapons aimed at the bandit, adding that it was too bad he didn’t see him jump in at the last pass.
Outside:‘Glory be! That’s Kid Colt a’comin’!’ one of the bandits exclaims, turning to fire his shotgun as he sees the cowboy chase him. ‘I allus thought he was an owl hoot just like me, but he shore don’t act like it!’ the bandit exclaims, while urging his horse on, and Kid Colt draws ever closer. ‘Mister, nobody outruns Steel - or me!’ Kid Colt exclaim as he leaps off his horse and pushes the bandit to the ground. ‘Yippee! Just like John Wayne!’ Hawkeye calls out as he leaps from his horse onto the locomotive. ‘Manhattan was never like this!’ Hawkeye adds as he climbs onto the train roof, where bandits approach him from both sides. ‘Uh oh’ Clint mutters, deciding that here is where he warns his real name, of just plain Hawkeye the Marksman as he drops to his stomach and fires arrows quickly in both directions.
On the tracks, Kid Colt has another of the bandits and punches him, telling him that he saw what his boss did to the folks of Tombstone, and he didn’t like it one bit. ‘Any man that’d hire his gun to that Kang ranny ain’t even worth the price of a bullet!’ the cowboy declares, punching the bandit backwards. ‘My fists are all - aw, shucks. He ain’t listening!’ Kid Colt mutters, while another bandit rides his horse away from the action, ‘Colt! Rawhide! I think I saw the Ringo Kid hisself! Brother, whatever’s got them hellers down on us, it’s more’n I wanna mess with!’ he exclaims, deciding it is lucky nobody else knows the cave he is riding into. But, in the darkness, a voice calls out ‘Wrong, mortal: the son of the spirit knows all!’ and from the darkness the Night Rider emerges, scaring the bandit who rushes back out of the cave on his rose. ‘This is too much! There ain’t nothing any worse -’ he begins, before slamming himself into a tree branch that hangs overhead.
Back on the locomotive rooftop, as the train speeds onwards, another bandit confronts Hawkeye, ‘All right, Injun-Man. Yuh got my side-kicks - but Ah’m right behind ‘em!’ he declares, adding that since he already has his gun pointed at Hawkeye’s liver, he is going to pay. ‘G’wan! Why don’tcha try something fancy…?’ he suggests. When Hawkeye doesn’t respond, he asks ‘Nothing you can do, huh? Then say your prayers!’ but before the bandit can fire, Kid Colt rises up behind him, and smacks him with the side of his own gun. Kid Colt removes his hat and reveals that his mother was an Indian, and although he shouldn’t have struck the bandit from behind, he used the word to insult Hawkeye.
In the train car, ‘Sounds like the fighting’s stopped!’ while Moondragon tells herself that she has stepped onto another world, and recalls how Captain Mar-Vell gaped at the wonders of Titan, and now she truly comprehends what he must have felt. ‘Titan is so perfect - so all encompassing - and this is so real’. Moondragon decides that, at last, her association with the Avengers has borne fruit.
Meanwhile, Two-Gun Kid is chasing one last bandit. He knows who it is - Chavo Juarez, but suddenly he pulls on the reigns of his horse, realizing that they have explored this canyon before, he turns his horse and they ride the trail to the top of the pass, and do a job for the Thunder God. Sparks skid from beneath the mighty stallion’s hooves as he clears the crest, and Kid Colt waits while Chavo rides the ground beneath the ridge, ‘Ha! Lost ‘im!’ he boasts, while Two-Gun Kid suddenly leaps from his horse, ‘You always were too quick on the draw, Chavo!’ he exclaims, landing on the bandit, which nearly kills both men on the spot. Two-Gun forces Chavo from his horse, already half unconscious, while the Kid is winded and sore, he forces himself to fight on, driving his fists to pummel the bandit, long after Chavo Juarez slumps completely unconscious, in fact.
In time, Two-Gun Kid realizes what he is doing, and after retrieving his own horse and tying the bandit to his, he pulls the bandit’s horse after him, and he thinks about why, and why he made that leap in the first place. Perhaps it is because, next to the Avengers, he feels so limited. Once Two-Gun rejoins Hawkeye and the others, all the bandits have been captured, ‘Everything’s set!’ Hawkeye announces as he fires a flare arrow into the air. It is seen by Thor and Moondragon who look out the train window, with Moondragon predicting the arrow’s explosion. As they get up and march down the aisle of the train, Thor tells her that, in time, she must explain how she knows such things. ‘For the moment, however, ‘tis enough - to take once more to the Heavens!’ Thor exclaims, as he grabs Moondragon and takes flight, leaving bewildered passengers in his wake.
But, in the box canyon at Thor’s journey’s end, mere mortals are already dealing with cold hard fact, as Hawkeye exclaims to the bandits ‘One of you is going to tell us what the set-up was for delivering your booty to your blue-beaked boss! Don’t kid yourself you’re not!’ he adds, frowning as he reveals that then, he and a few of the boys are gonna begin the assault on Castle Kang!
Beast, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Moondragon, Scarlet Witch, Thor, Vision (all Avengers)Captain America (inactive Avenger)Patsy Walker
Doctor Spectrum II, Golden Archer, Hyperion II, Lady Lark, Whizzer III (all Squadron Supreme)Buzz BaxterHugh Jones
Kid Colt, Night Rider, Rawhide Kid, Ringo Kid, Two-Gun Kid II
Ace, Chavo Juarez and other bandits
Locomotive passengers and staff
In Flashback images:HawkeyeKangCivilians
Hawkeye was last seen storming out of Avengers Mansion in Avengers (1st series) #137.
Iron Man is incorrectly drawn on the cover of the issue with the team that are currently in the past.