Avengers Spotlight #23

Issue Date: 
October 1989
Story Title: 
1st story: Tooth & Nail and Hammer and Bullet and Chainsaw!! 2nd story: Once there was a Swordsman

1st Story: Howard Mackie (writer), Al Milgrom (penciler), Don Heck (inker), Jack Morelli (letterer), Marc Siry (colorist)

2nd Story: John Byrne (writer/plotter), Kieron Dwyer (penciler/plotter/colorist), Karl Kesel (inker), Phil Felix (letterer)

Evan Skolnick (assistant editor), Gregory Wright (managing editor), Mark Gruenwald (editor), Tom DeFaclo (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

(1st story)

Mad-Dog and Bobcat fight over who is taking Hawkeye down, so Hawkeye is able to escape from them, although they pursue him, he uses a tear-gas arrow to evade them. He wonders why these villains are after him, while the marriage councelor keeps watch over him from his office and  reports into someone via telephone, updating them on Hawkeye's status. As Hawkeye makes his way down alleyways, he is confronted by the Bullet Biker. Another skirmish follows, and although Hawkeye is able to evade his foe, he stumbles upon more old enemies – the team called the Death Throws. They close in on Hawkeye, surrounding him, forcing him to climb up a power pole, where he is able to swing his way onto a rooftop – only to find himself confronted by Trickshot!

(2nd story)

The Vision is adjusting to life since he was rebuilt. Hovering over Los Angeles, the Vision witnesses an armored truck that is attacked by a group of men in armor called Smog Alert. The Vision confronts them, saves the security guards and takes the group called Smog Alert down, and saves a woman they had taken hostage. The Vision doesn't understand the woman's advances towards him, and when he is surrounded by a squad of police officers, they don't instantly recognize him. The Vision decides that his new appearance must be confusing for some people, and wanting to make himself known to the world, he drops into a studio where the Johnny Carson show is being filmed. The Vision interacts with Johnny Carson and his guests as he re-introduces himself to the world, and tries to re-adjust to humanity. Afterwards, when he returns to the West Coast Avengers, the team laughs about his time on the Johnny Carson show.


Full Summary: 

1st story:

'Hawkeye is mine!' Bobcat exclaims. 'Mine!' Mad-Dog growls as the two criminals stare each other down, with Clint “Hawkeye” Barton trapped between the two of them. 'No need to fight over me like cats and dog – never mind' Hawkeye mutters. 'Look, dog-breath, you had your chance and you blew it. Get out of my way and let me take what's mine!' Bobcat tells Mad-Dog, who snarls that he had Hawkeye exactly where he wanted him before Bobcat interfered. 'Now I'll have to rip out your stinking cat guts!' Mad-Dog exclaims as he lunges at Bobcat, forcing him to the ground, the men begin to scrap. 'Quit drooling on me, flea-bag! Or my claws will make history of your eyes – I need the practice removing body parts!' Bobcat exclaims, before he kicks Mad-Dog backwards. Hawkeye, meanwhile, has moved away from the criminals, and thinks that this is just what he needs – two refugees from an animal shelter killing each other to decide who kills him. He remembers the Brothers Grimm attacking him and Mockingbird at the marriage counselor, before Mad-Dog came out of nowhere and bit him on the forearm. Clint knows that he is going to have to go to a doctor, as he thinks Mad-Dog injected some venom into him. He doesn't feel too bad though – until he suddenly collapses.

Clint gets back to his feet, and starts to make his way down the street. Bobcat and Mad-Dog notice this, 'Moron! He's getting away!' Bobcat exclaims. Clint knows that he won't be able to outrun them in this condition, while Mad-Dog warns Bobcat that he will finish him after he tears out Hawkeye's throat. 'You can have his throat, Fido! That's not where the money's at!' Bobcat declares as he rushes down the street, with Mad-Dog following him. Suddenly, Hawkeye spins around and fires an arrow towards his foes, which releases some sort of gas. 'Sorry about the tear-gas arrow, guys! Please don't turn me into the ASPCA!' Hawkeye jokes, while Bobcat and Mad-Dog are stopped in their tracks. Hawkeye uses this moment to sneak down a nearby alley. He tells himself that this just isn't his night, and uses his transceiver to signal for his sky-cycle so he can get back to the West Coast Avengers Compound. But looking up to the sky, his transport doesn't appear. Hawkeye wonders what is going on, and decides that he can't wait all night, as “Marmaduke” and “Garfield” are liable to catch up with him. He stumbles along the alley, planning to get out of this part of the city, but he knows without his sky-cycle that is not going to be easy.

Meanwhile, in his office, marriage counselor Myron Steinmetz looks out his broken window as he speaks to someone on the phone, reporting that everything is going as planned – that Hawkeye has been separated  from Mockingbird, the signal to his sky-cycle has been jammed and he has been drugged by Mad-Dog, and is now alone on foot. Steinmetz looks down at the alleyway where he can see Hawkeye, and informs the person on the other end of the phone that Hawkeye is alone and on foot, that they will be able to keep him under surveillance, and that he should be easy pickings. 'Excellent!' the voice on the other end of the phone responds.

Making his way out onto another street, Hawkeye thinks that this just doesn't make sense. He knows he isn't the most popular guy, so why all of a sudden does every Tom, Dick and Mad-Dog want a piece of him. 'Well, at least I lost the Kennel Club' he jokes to himself, gazing around, he sees that the cost is clear. 'Make that was clear! Who the -' Hawkeye begins as several energy blasts are fired at him, striking the ground around his feet. 'Come on, Bow-Nose, you remember me – the Bullet Biker!' Dillon Zarro exclaims from his high-tech motorcycle. 'I wish I didn't, but I do' Hawkeye mutters, leaping across the street as more blasts are fired at him. 'I don't need this' Clint thinks to himself as he ducks under a car and hides. 'Hiding under an old Plymouth with poison coursing through my veins while a reject from a bad Hell's Angel movie takes pot shots at me – is not my idea of a fun night!' Clint tells himself, watching as the Bullet Biker speeds towards the car and comes to a stop.

'I'd be doing this even if the boss wasn't offering all kinds of money, Mr Goody Two-Bows!' Bullet Biker calls out, boasting that he was his employer's top extortionist before Hawkeye came along, playing Mr Super Hero, and that his boss let him sweat it out in that stinking jail for a month before he broke him out for this job – so Hawkeye is his ticket back to the top. Hawkeye tries reach into his quiver for an arrow, but it's too cramped under the car to take a shot, so he crawls out the other side of the car. 'I've had it! I don't care how much I'm hurting – I'm not hiding from Bullet Biker, Mad-Dog, Bobcat or any other two-bit villain tonight or any night!' Hawkeye thinks to himself, even with his head fuzzy, he hopes he can get one good shot off – but discovers that his bow is stuck on the muffler, and Bullet Biker is already at the car. Clint has no time to retrieve his arrow, so leaps out from under the car and dives behind some trash cans that in front of an alleyway, as Bullet Biker exclaims 'You're trashed, man!' and slams his motorcycle into the trash cans, which knock into Hawkeye and send him careening down the alleyway

Hawkeye is not injured though, but his head is spinning more than before. 'I really don't need this garbage' he jokes to himself as he looks at an open trash can in front of him. He needs to focus and get a fix on where Bullet Bikers is. He peers past the garbage and sees the Bullet Biker at the end of the alleyway. 'Face it, tough guy. You're unarmed and beaten. But don't feel too bad... you really never stood a chance. After all, I'm the best money can buy!' Bullet Biker boasts that once he has a piece of Hawkeye, he will have plenty of moolah. 'I've taken enough of your garbage, Boast Rider – so put a lid on it!' Hawkeye exclaims as he hurls a trash can lid like a Frisbee, it slams into the Bullet Biker's helmet and knocks him backwards off his bike. 'Captain America'd be proud of that little move' Clint tells himself as he rushes down the street – unaware that he is being monitored.

Back in his office, Steinmetz reports in as he keeps watch of Hawkeye via some video monitors. Steinmetz informs the person he is speaking to on the phone that Hawkeye has dispatched the Bullet Biker, though he seems the worse for it – and the next group should finish him off. Leaning against a lamppost, Clint has trouble shaking the cobwebs out o his skull. He realizes that it seems like every criminal he has had a run-in with his after him tonight. He wonders what they all want, when suddenly, a voice calls out 'Yo, archer! The fun is just starting!' Hawkeye looks over and sees someone in a red and purple costume juggling some knives and daggers. 'Knicknack!' Hawkeye exclaims, realizing that he had forgotten about his New York-based enemies. 'I assume you want to kill me, too?' Hawkeye asks, but Knicknack smiles and tells Hawkeye that they don't want to kill him – they just wanna play. He hurls a dagger towards Hawkeye, which lands in the lamppost near Hawkeye's head. “We?” Hawkeye quotes, before a razor-sharp wing is thrown at him, cutting his shoulder. 'Courtesy of the Ringleader! Head of the Death Throws!' the juggling Ringleader calls out as he juggles several of the razor-sharp discs.

If Hawkeye remembers correctly, then there are five of these jokers. 'Oww! My leg' Hawkeye calls out as Tenpin throws a pin at Hawkeye, striking him in the leg. 'Long time no see, Bow-Brain!' Tenpin calls out, before Oddball asks Tenpin to save some for him. 'But of course!' Tenpin replies, motioning to Oddball, he remarks that he has to make sure his big brother and his main squeeze get their shots in, as the two of them clashed with Hawkeye before the rest of them did. 'Watch your mouth, pin-head! I'm packing a lot of fire-power in some of these babies!' Bombshell boasts as she juggles several grenades and bombs. She suggests to Oddball that he tenderize Hawkeye before she gets her piece. Hawkeye cries out in pain as Oddball throws one of his juggling balls at him, cracking one or two of his ribs. 'If I don't get out of here, I'm dead!' Hawkeye realizes. The Death Throws begin to surround him, each of them juggling their respective deadly weapons as they close in on Hawkeye, who knows that no matter which direction he goes, he is going to run into one of them – almost – as he suddenly begins to climb the railings on the lamppost, hoping that his rib and leg will hold out.

'Hey! He's getting away!' Oddball exclaims. 'To where?' Ringleader asks. Hawkeye reaches the top of the lamppost and tells himself that this is his only chance, while the Death Throws hurl their weapons  towards him. 'Keep throwing! We wanna bring him down before anyone else shows up!' Oddball exclaims. Hawkeye hopes that Bombshell wasn't bragging about the power of her bombs, as he tosses an arrow towards one of them, which explodes, and creates some cloud cover above the Death Throws, who all leap to the ground, enabling Hawkeye to throw an arrow with a cable across to a nearby rooftop. He knows that it will take Oddball and his cronies a little while ti pick up the pieces after that, Hawkeye swings across on the cable arrow, landing on the rooftop nearby. He thought that he would never be able to get along without his bow, though would rather not have to do it for too much longer.

Hawkeye lands on the rooftop, and clutches his broken ribs. Along with his leg and his head, he feels like they are fighting to see which will give out first. He knows he has to rest, but suddenly, 'Hey, kiddo – long time no see!' a voice exclaims. Hawkeye looks up to see someone in a similar costume to his aiming their bow and arrow at him – it's Trickshot!


2nd story:

Los Angeles, California, where the ghostly android Avenger hovers over the city, of which every inch of its varied face is known to him, programmed into his infallible computer brain. Yet none of it is truly familiar, none of it is living memory. He looks down at the snail's pace crawl of the endless ribbon of traffic and wonders in his cold, robotic way, why this morning's police bulletins concerned themselves with the theft of a municipal bus. Who, the Vision asks himself, though the thought does not take place in any human language, who would be mad enough to want so cumbersome a vehicle in this press of steel and glass. Were the Vision to direct his glowing sensors to an armored truck nearby, he would get his answer.

'Hey! Look out!' the driver of the armored truck exclaims as a large bus slams into the side of the truck. 'Of all the stupid, lame-brained...it's like he swerved in front of us on purpose!' the driver exclaims, while his colleague points out that the bus is pulling out ahead. The driver suddenly notices something coming out of the bus vents, and his colleague tells him that it looks like smog. 'It is smog!' the driver gasps as the smog begins to choke them, filling the armored truck. They cough and cover their mouths, but the smog clogs up the truck and prevents them from seeing out the truck window. 'Can't see to steer!' the driver exclaims as the truck screeches into the side of the bus. The driver and his colleague drop out of the truck, choking, they need air. 'Still can't see!' the driver utters, when suddenly, a voice calls out 'That's okay, pops – you don't need to see us cart off all your bread!'

'You'll know it's happened!' the voice adds, as the driver and his colleague look up, 'Who?' the driver gasps in shock as three armored men appear among the smog. One of the men has yellow gauntlets attached to his arm which blasts the smog around them, while the two carry yellow weapons. 'Hey, that's right! We didn't introduce ourselves! That's real impolite! You can call us Smog Alert!' one of them shouts. He then reports that the armored truck guards are out and addresses one of his comrades as Sanchez and instructs him to get the keys and open the back of the truck. 'You got it, boss man!' Sanchez replies. 'Man o man, is this sweet. All those months of work are gonna pay off big time!' Sanchez exclaims as he puts the keys into the back of the truck. 'Don't waste time gassing about it, man. Let's crack this piggy bank an' split!' another declares, pointing out that there are too many super heroes in this town since the Avengers opened up a franchise – and they don't wanna waste time in case one of them – too late, though. 'Oh, split!' Sanchez mutters as they open the back of the truck, and find the Vision waiting for them.

The Vision state that his programming informs him vehicles such as this are for the conveyance of valuables from one point to another – and withdrawals are not made en route. 'That voice! Who -' one of the Smog Alert operative declares as they blast smog into the back of the truck. 'It doesn't matter! Smog 'im!' another responds. But an instant later, the Vision slams his fist into one of the Smog Alert members, Sanchez, knocking him backwards. 'Sanchez!' one of the operatives calls out, while the Vision turns to him and tells him that Sanchez will be unharmed, though no longer conscious, as he did not strike with full strength, as his programming indicates that would have been lethal. 'Yeah? Well, excuse me if I don't show you the same consideration, spooky!' the other Smog Alert member replies as he opens fire at close range. 'Eat this!' he shouts as the blast strikes the Vision's chest. The Vision frowns as he informs the Smog Alert operative that his scan indicates the projectiles are metallic, and non-combustible, so he reduces his density sufficient to allow the blast to pass through him, while slowing their forward momentum, thus avoiding the endangering of any humans behind him.

The Vision then fires a beam of energy from his forehead which prevents further use of the weapon as he destroys the gun, and the Smog Alert operative drops to his knees, 'You melted the gun...burned me...' while clutching his hand. The Vision's scan tells him that there is no damage to the man's surface tissue. 'Oh yeah? Well, “surface tissue” this!' another Smog Alert operative exclaims as he comes up behind the Vision – only to fall through the Vision's intangible body. The Vision explains renders both of the Smog Alert operatives unconscious by penetrating their forms while his density is still at minimum. The Smog Alert members moan as they pass out. He goes over to the first operative that he incapacitated, but the one with the gauntlets who was incapacitated first tells the Vision not to count on it, and appears before him, holding a woman hostage. 'I kinda thought you'd be getting back t'me. That's why I collected a little insurance. He warns the Vision to back off before he wastes this bimbo. 'As you wish' the Vision responds as he phases down into the ground, leaving the woman wide-eyed in shock as she utters 'He – he left me?'

'Yeah... sure... guess he knew when he was beat!' the Smog Alert operative declares, holding a gun at the woman's head. Suddenly, someone taps him on the shoulder, and he turns around to see the Vision standing before him, as he passes out. 'Huh?' the woman asks, turning to the Vision, who asks her if she is all right. 'You are out of danger now -' the Vision begins, before the woman throws herself at him. 'Oh, waow! You saved me!' she exclaims in an affected tone. 'What can I ever do to repay you?' she asks. The Vision doesn't respond to the woman's arms around him and simply remarks that it is possible she has experienced a trauma, and asks if he can convey her to a hospital. The woman looks up at the Vision as she presses her head against his chest and sighs, telling him that won't be necessary, while wondering why she always gets the lives ones.

Suddenly, a voice shouts 'Hold it right there, you two!' and the Vision and the woman turn to find that they are surrounded by police officers. 'Where did they come from?' the woman asks. 'Undoubtedly the nearest station house...' the Vision responds matter-of-factly, before asking the officers how he can assist them. 'Just step away from the girl and keep your hands in plains sight!' one of the officers shouts through a megaphone, before asking the woman if she is all right. 'Hey, don't get so hostile, flat-top!' the woman retorts, she points at the Vision and tells the officers that he has been doing their job, and he saved her. 'Oh, ah. That's all right then' the officer responds, sheepishly, before instructing his colleagues to lower their weapons. The officer apologizes to the Vision for the mistake, and explains that he didn't recognize him as one of the good guys. 'You new in town?' he asks, before offering the Vision a doughnut. 'No to both queries, officer. I do not eat... and I am not “new in town”. I am the Vision' he responds.

'The Vision, huh?' the officer asks, looking suspicious, he asks the Vision what happened to him, as he sure doesn't look like the ID photos they have back at the station. 'No, I expect I do not' the Vision responds, explaining that he was recently dismantled, necessitating considerable effort to reassemble his android body. “Disassembled?” the officer asks. 'You mean like in – they took you apart?' he enquires, before asking if that hurt. The Vision states that he cannot say, for he has no memory of the event. He then excuses himself and takes flight. 'Er, yeah...sure. But if I were you...I'd find some way to let people know you're you...before you scare somebody to death!' the police officer calls out after the Vision.

As he soars through the city, the Vision realizes that the police officer is correct, for hiss new appearance, while not greatly different from his original form, he nonetheless different enough that he might strike fear into those it is his intent to aid. He realizes that it is therefore necessary that he makes his changed form known to as many people as possible in as short a time as possible. He scans his programmed memory for the most efficacious manner in which to achieve this end, as logically, there must be some simple means of addressing the largest number of persons at one time.

On a studio stage, a man is on his knees, singing “Hey! Mister Tambourine Man... play a song for...” but as he looks up, he stops himself, as the Vision drops down onto the stage, standing between the man and the camera crew. 'What in Sam Hill...' the camera operator mutters, as the Vision states 'Please do not be alarmed. I am the Vision, of the Avengers. I wish only to take a moment of your time to...reintroduce myself' he explains. 'The Vision?' someone in the audience asks. 'He’s that robot guy!' another exclaims. 'I thought he was red and green?' someone asks. 'And yellow' another adds. 'Red and green and yellow...' someone declares, while the host of the show, Johnny Carson, smiles, 'Ooookay!' he exclaims, adding that they won't be bringing out Norman Mailer just yet.

The Vision walks over to Johnny Carson and apologizes for intruding on  the taping of his program, explaining that he seemed the most logical way to reach the largest number of people. Johnny Carson stands up and remarks that is as close to a compliment as he ever got from a machine, before offering  the Vision to take a seat. The Vision thanks Johnny, while explaining that he is not a machine, but a synthezoid – an artificial man. The Vision sits down next to Johnny Carson's other guests – Charro and Pee-wee Herman. 'Aiee, caramba! You don't look artificial to me!' Charro exclaims, while Pee-wee Herman laughs and declares that the Vision looks more like Jambi – only he's not real, either! The Vision frowns as he states that he is not familiar with the person that Pee-wee Herman mentions. 'I guess not. You might call him the poor man's Doctor Strange, right, Paul?' Johnny asks, calling Pee-wee “Paul” which is his real name. 'You might say that... only I'm not poor!' Paul replies, bursting into laughter.

Pee-wee then asks the Vision if it is true he used to be the Human torch. 'No. Although that was once believed to be the case, it has since been proven otherwise, the original Torch was an android, whereas I am...' the Vision begins, as the wide-eyed Charro interrupts him: 'A seen-thezoid' she smiles, before asking the Vision if that means he is looking for “seen”. 'Coochie coochie!' she adds. The Vision is confused by “Coochie coochie” and states that he is programmed in seven hundred languages, along with the dialects and sub-tongues, but he is unfamiliar with that phrase. He asks as to its meaning, to which Johnny tells the Vision that it means to loosen up. 'Anybody who flies around barefoot should be more laid back!' Johnny tells him, suggesting that while they are all here and the tape is rolling, the Vision should cue them in as to why he dropped in like this.

The Vision thanks Johnny and explains that he came here primarily with the intent of assuring the viewing audience that although he no longer looks like the Vision they might remember from newspapers and television reports, he is, in fact, still that selfsame individual, and that it is his hope that he will continue to be of service to the populace at large as he has been in the past. 'Service?' Charro asks. 'Hey, you want to do a girl a good service...' Charro begins, to which Pee-wee turns to her and tells her not to waste her time, as somehow he doesn't think this guy's her idea of a fun date. The Vision looks at Johnny and thanks him for his time, before asking if this will be presented on tonight's broadcast. 'Oh, count on it, Vizh...if I can have your word you're not going to drop in on Pat and Arsenio,  too?' he asks. The Vision replies that that had been his plan, but he is willing to forego it, if it will facilitate the prompt airing of this program. He then bids everyone good afternoon, as he phases through the floor, vanishing.

Later, at the Palos Verdes Compound home and headquarters of the Avengers West Coast, the Vision's teammates are watching the screening of the Johnny Carson Show. 'Man o man o man! Vision, you are too much!' Tigra laughs. 'Too much? Is that all you have to say, Tigra? I can't believe he did that! I just can't believe it!' the unimpressed USAgent shouts, while the Scarlet Witch covers her face with her hand to hide her smirk. USAgent declares that Dr Pym reprogrammed the Vision after his memory was erased, and asks if this was his doing. 'No...no it isn't! But I wish it was! I really wish it was!' Pym laughs. The Wasp in her insect size form sits on the Vision's head, holding her stomach as she laughs, while Wonder Man leans on the frowning Vision and tells him that he may not look like himself anymore, but he thinks there is hope for him yet!


Characters Involved: 

(1st story)







Bullet Biker

Bombshell, Knicknack, Oddball, Ringleader, Tenpin (all Death Throws)

Dr Myron Steinmetz


(2nd story)



Smog Alert

Johnny Carson

Paul Reubens/Pee-wee Herman



Armored truck drivers


Police officers

Audidence at the Johnny Carson show


Story Notes: 

(1st story)

Hawkeye previously encountered Bullet Biker in Solo Avengers #13.

The Death Throws debuted as a team in Captain America (1st series) #317. Hawkeye encountered them in that issue. Knicknack, Ringleader and Tenpin all made their debuts that same issue. Oddball and Bombshell appeared prior to that, in Hawkeye (1st series) #3-4. The team hadn't been seen between Captain America (1st series) #317 and their appearance here.

Trickshot was last seen in Solo Avengers #5.


(2nd story)

First and only appearance of Smog Alert.

The Vision was destroyed and rebuilt over the course of West Coast Avengers (2nd series) #42-45.

Johnny Carson has appeared several times prior to this story, in issues of Avengers (1st series), Daredevil (1st series) and Amazing Spider-Man (1st series).

Paul Reubens a.k.a. Pee-wee Herman has previously appeared in Incredible Hulk (2nd series) #355.


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