Avengers Spotlight #36

Issue Date: 
September 1990
Story Title: 
Bitter Pill

Steve Gerber (writer), Al Milgrom (penciler), Don Heck (inker), Rick Parker (letterer), Joe Rosas (colorist), Len Kaminski (managing editor), Mark Gruenwald (editor), Tom DeFaclo (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

A furious Hawkeye is fighting members of the Mode Blanks gang as their safehouse burns around them. He is on a mission to find out who killed all of the Stone Perfs gang as part of his war against gang crime. He wants the violence to end, but can't seem to get his message through to the gang members. The house finally explodes, but Hawkeye and the gang members get to safety. Hawkeye leaves, but not without giving one of the Mode Blanks a stern warning about stopping the violence – the gang member responds by threatening Hawkeye as he leaves on his sky-cycle. In Beverly Hills, Prince Charming, formerly of the Stone Perfs and now right-hand man to Lotus Newmark, is in awe as Lotus takes him to her sprawling mansion. Lotus reveals the inspiration for her mansion, and when Prince Charming finds several severed fingers encased in a display within Lotus's office, Lotus reveals her origin to him – that she is the daughter of a businessman who moved to Hong Kong, where his wife was killed shortly after. This drove him to gambling and subsequently debt. To settle his debt, he was forced to give Lotus to the crime lord Li Fong. It was then that Lotus grew into the hard woman she is today – a shrewd business woman, skilled fighter and determined to succeed. Years later, when Lotus was set free, she sought out her father who had returned to Los Angeles and killed him. The next day, Hawkeye and Mockingbird are celebrating Luis Gutierrez's birthday, with Luis, his mother and sister. They are at a restaurant when Luis notices Prince charming walk past. Hawkeye goes after Prince and they fight. Prince draws a gun and they struggle over it – the gun is fired and tragically shoots Luis' sister, Anita, through the chest. Luis swears vengeance, and Prince Charming escapes on Hawkeye's sky-cycle. He returns to Lotus's mansion and crashes the sky-cycle on the lawn. Lotus is unimpressed at Prince's actions in public and orders him to leave, otherwise he will have “died in the crash”. USAgent arrives at the restaurant and gives Hawkeye another sky-cycle and his bow and arrows, while Mockingbird reveals that Anita has died. Hawkeye locates Prince on the other sky-cycle, and forces him to crash onto a nearby rooftop. They fight for some time, until the Terminizer appears and fires a machine gun which tears through Prince, killing him. The Terminizer, who is clearly shown to be a child, is about to take his mask off, until Hawkeye stops him from doing so. The Terminizer asks if he has to be arrested, but Hawkeye hugs him and tells him to go home to his mother. That night, Hawkeye has returned to the Avengers West Compound, where USAgent judges him for not arresting the Terminizer. Hawkeye refuses to talk about what happened, even with Mockingbird, and hopes that he made the right decision, knowing that they die young these days.


Full Summary: 

One month ago, some thirty members of the Stone Perfs street gang met a fiery demise at the bottom of a quarry in the Mojave Desert. Since then, Hawkeye has been looking for the person or persons who ordered their deaths. But the results so far have been precisely zip. 'Where does it end? WHERE DOES IT END!' Clint Barton a.k.a. Hawkeye shouts as he slams his fist into the face of one of the Mode Blanks gang members. Hawkeye's search has led him to some interesting places – like this abandoned house in East LA that the Perfs used as their hangout. The occasion is a celebratory torching by their rival gang, the Mode Blanks. And as the old house goes up in flames, Hawkeye uses his bow, swinging it into three of the Perfs, knocking them over. 'Are you really that stupid to figure it out? If the violence doesn't stop – you're dead!' Hawkeye tells the gang members. 'If not this week, next week, if not in a quarry, then in a sewer!' Hawkeye calls out,  asking the Mode Blanks if they think they've won just because the Stone Perfs got themselves murdered?

'What did you win? Tell me what you won!' Hawkeye asks one of the gang members, grabbing him by his shirt and pulling him closer. 'The chance to die at 21 instead of 18? Is that it?' Hawkeye asks. 'You're so full of -' the gang member starts to reply. 'What then?' Hawkeye interrupts. 'To recruit your younger brothers and sisters?' an infuriated Hawkeye asks. 'And when they die at 21, they'll have you to thank!' Hawkeye shouts, telling the gang member that that is something he can be proud of – there is some meaning for his life. 'Shut up, you -' the gang member starts to say, before Hawkeye mutters 'Ah, what the heck...!' and tosses him aside. 'The power structure needs all the help it can get to keep you and your people excluded, right?' Hawkeye asks, as the gang member lands near some flames. Hawkeye tells him not to answer, as there is a more pressing question: 'Are you just gonna lay there till the fire reaches the gas line – or help me drag your friends to safety?' he asks. 'Well?' Hawkeye snaps.

A short time later, the abandoned house explodes, while Hawkeye ducks for cover outside, the Mode Blanks having all been dragged to safety. 'Personally, I think you made the right decision' Hawkeye remarks, his sky-cycle laying nearby. Hawkeye announces that he had been trying to break up the Perfs for months – and then they died anyway – firebombed, nothing left but ash. 'The gang wars have to stop...the violence has to end...for your sake, for the – No, never mind. I'm sick of hearing myself preach' Hawkeye mutters. 'Me too, man' the gang member complains. As Hawkeye gets on his sky-cycle, the gang member tells him that there ain't nothing else for them, and to fight the power is all they have. Hawkeye informs the gang member that “The power” couldn't care less if they slaughter themselves. As the fire roars behind them, Hawkeye tells the gang member to forget it. 'It's your life. Do what you want with it. Just tell me one thing: Who killed the Perfs? Does your gang know? Does anyone know?' he asks. The gang member shakes his head and assures Hawkeye that nobody down here knows nothing. 'And wouldn't admit it if they did, right?' Hawkeye asks. The gang member tells him that he is wrong. 'You take a bullet in the street, that's one thing. That's for your friends’ territory. Ain't nobody I know wants a bomb dropped on his head!' the gang member calls out as Hawkeye takes to the air on his sky-cycle, and emergency services arrive to attend to the fire.

Meanwhile, in Beverly Hills, in the backseat of an expensive car, the now well-dressed Prince Charming, formerly of the Stone Perfs, holds a glass of wine and tells Lotus Newmark that he thought she said they were going to her house, but points out that Hollywood is back the other way. 'What? Oh, you mean that little bungalow in the hills? You thought I lived there?' Lotus asks, informing Prince Charming that is nothing but a “safe house”, for visitors whose names could be embarrassing if found in a hotel register, and for people who shouldn't be seen on the streets – like him. 'So then – where do you live?' Prince Charming asks. 'Here' Lotus tells him, pointing out the window, at an enormous mansion, with towering pillars at the front of it. The car drives up around a fountain in front of the mansion, as Lotus reveals that the design was inspired by a comic book she read as a very young child, where the heroine lived on an island populated only by women, and made excursions into the male-dominated world to fight the nasty villains. 'I had no idea how important those silly stories would be to me...' Lotus adds.

As they walk towards the front doors, Lotus adds that the memory of those stories sustained her through a very difficult life. She bids good evening to a woman called Paula who stands by the front door, armed with a gun. Prince Charming tells Lotus that he doesn't understand why she is telling him this stuff, and as the door opens and Lotus steps into the mansion, she informs Prince Charming that she wants to see if he can keep this information to himself. A woman on the other side of the door then greets Mistress Lotus. Making their way into an office, Prince Charming is shocked and exclaims 'I don't believe this place! It looks like something off TV!' He admits that he never thought anyone lived like this in true life, before telling Lotus that if she is worried about him keeping secrets, then why did she let Auggie Slater show him the “ice” lab? Lotus opens a cupboard full of bottles of alcohol and tells Prince Charming that was business – he had to know. She adds that men deal differently with business than they do with women. She tells him to sit down and make himself comfortable, before asking if he would like a drink.

'Yeah, yeah, sure' Prince Charming replies, before noticing two severed fingers encased in a glass display box. 'Lotus? Are these for real?' Prince Charming asks, shocked. 'Real? Oh, yes. I took them from my father – before I took his life' Lotus reveals. She hands Prince Charming his drink and asks him if he would like to hear the story. 'I dunno. I guess, yeah!' Prince responds. Lotus sits next to Prince and informs him that her father was a jobber of imported goods, like gray market textiles, mostly, to discount outlets here in LA. She reveals that she was born here, too, but her father moved the family to Hong Kong when she was six years old, as he wanted to move one rung up the ladder – closer to the source.

(flashback images)

Lotus reveals that her father did quite well for himself for the first few years over there, noting that the ethical implications of selling the product at cut-rate prices in the United States never seemed to bother him – it was just business. Lotus didn't understand any of that at the time, it was explained to her many years later, by a man who was colder by far than her father, but less inclined to rationalize. Lotus remembers that she might never have met the other man if not for a runaway taxicab – and the fact that her father grabbed her hand and pulled her out of the taxi's path – rather than her mother, who fell and twisted her ankle. Lotus' father tried to reach his wife, but there wasn’t time – and Lotus and her father both watched in horror as she was struck by the taxi and died. Lotus' father was never the same after that, and for months he spent every day at her mother's grave, sobbing and begging her forgiveness – he even stopped talking to Lotus, and eventually, he returned to work, but he would disappear at night. The situation was as anyone would expect – he was drinking heavily, gambling heavily and running up markers beyond his means.

Lotus supposed that it would never have occurred to him that one day his creditors would insist upon payment, and she answered the door one day – they had come calling. She told them the truth, that her father was sleeping, and the told her they would wake him up. Which they did – and rudely, slapping him across the face, Li Fong addressed him as Jerome and declared that they had to talk. Jerome sat up, surprised to see Li Fong and asked him what was going on. Li Fong sat at the end of Jerome's bed and apologized for the intrusion, before informing him that he made it necessary – as he had not met his obligations, so he had come to collect in person. 'I – I – the money should've been here by now, but see, the problem -' Jerome started to explain, before blaming the client in the States, remarking that they are slow to pay. Li Fong wasn't interested and told Jerome Newmark that time had run out, that there are no more excuses, no more partial payments – they have to settle accounts.

Jerome asked if they could work something out, some kind of barter, and claimed that he had some inventory, almost enough to cover what he owed. Li Fong smiles and tells Jerome that he isn't interested, but he would accept two of his fingers as payment, to remind him to treat future debts more seriously. 'You're joking!' Jerome replied. 'There must be something else -' he started to say, when Lotus entered the room, calling out to him. 'Perhaps...yes' Li Fong remarked as he turned to Lotus. Lotus never heard her father's answer, but she left with Li Fong and his Tong brethren – and her father kept all ten of his digits.

Lotus came to learn that the Tong was a business, some of its dealings were conducted in back alleys, but its leaders met in a board room setting. She remembers how they laughed out loud the first time they saw her – Li's little American servant. Li Fong told his friends that their amusement was understandable, but that they should not underestimate the little lady. As she served tea during one meeting, Li Fong told his associates that his aim in taking Lotus as payment was to rob her father of his dignity, but he has discovered that her mind is keen and her will is strong. He added that in time, she would be useful to him in business, and for pleasure. The men laughed as Lotus ran from the meeting room in shame – the men did not grasp that Li was serious, and nor did Lotus.

As Lotus underwent physical and mental training in the years ahead, it became clear by the manner in which Li raised her – like a son, in many ways. She was taught the path to physical power, and rigorously drilled in academic subjects, as well. Although she found it strange, Lotus began to realize that Li Fong wanted to make certain no man could ever hurt her again, as her father had done. The favors Li demanded in return were, for the most part, not excessive. There was, at least, genuine affection between them, and she Lotus knew that Li had given more than he had taken, despite visiting her during the night.


On Lotus' 21st birthday, Li Fong gave Lotus the last thing she ever expected. Sitting across from each other, Li took Lotus' hand and told her that he was proud of her, and, more than that, respected her as one who could be his equal. Li told Lotus that she had an excellent mind for business, and that he had come to value her judgment above that of the men who surrounded him. 'You're trying to say something more than that' Lotus told Li, who announced that he had sensed Lotus' desire to strike out on her own. Li pointed out that though Lotus had never given voice to her thoughts, he knew she found his world, and her possibilities in it, far too constricting, and in that regard, she was still a very American woman. Lotus told Li that she was grateful for the education in reality that he had given her, which was as rare for American girls as for Chinese, and admitted that there are avenues she wished to pursue that would be impossible here. Li told Lotus that she must have her freedom, and stated that the other men would think him crazy for letting her go – but they think that already. He then asks Lotus what she wanted as a parting gift, suggesting money. But Lotus told him that there was only one thing she wanted – her father's address.

Lotus discovered that her father had returned to Los Angeles while she was still a child – and that he never even attempted to find her. She found him in Los Angeles and watched as he, dishevelled, crossed the road to an old apartment building. She followed him into the building and watched as he entered his shabby little room. She knocked on his door, and when he opened it, she told him that, if she wasn't mistaken, she had something to return to him. 'But I haven't lost anything. You must have the wrong apartment' Jerome Newmark responded. 'You've lost everything. You live like a pig... daddy' Lotus declared. 'What – Lotus?' Jerome gasped, wide-eyed. Lotus scowled and confirmed to her father that it was she – all grown up. 'I don't know what to – I've lived with the shame for so – you'll never be able to forgive me, will you?' he asked her, hanging his head. 'No' Lotus told him as she pulled a dagger from her purse. Then, after performing the “operation”, she held her father's bloody hand in front of his face and forced him to look at it for a full minute – then she drove her bare hand through his chest and into his heart, leaving him on the apartment floor in a pool of blood.



Grinning, Lotus concludes her story by telling Prince Charming that she was out that door and into the life of a California entrepreneur. Prince looks at her with wide-eyes, and she tells him that she is glad her little memento aroused his curiosity. 'That story always makes me laugh' she adds.

The following day, at a restaurant on Beverly Drive, 'This is the best birthday I have ever had, Hawkeye! Thank you!' Luis Gutierrez smiled as he sits around a table with his mother, Monica and sister, Anita. With them, in civilian clothing, are Hawkeye and his estranged wife Bobbi Morse-Barton a.k.a. Mockingbird. Clint smiles and tells Luis that it is the least he can do for a guy who saved his life. 'And you can call me “Clint” when I'm out of uniform' he adds. A waiter brings a large birthday cake to the table, and Clint tells Luis to blow out the candles and make a wish, so they can feed his face and still make it to the movies. 'Okay! Here I -' Luis begins, before he looks over and sees someone walking by: 'Hawkeye – look! Quickly – I thought you said all the Perfs were dead!' Luis exclaims. 'They are as far as I -' Hawkeye begins, turning to where Luis is pointing, Luis identifies a man as Fernando, one of the Stone Perfs. 'They called him “Prince Charming”!' Luis exclaims. 'Yours eyes are better than mine!' Hawkeye replies as he leaps over a banister and runs after Prince Charming, telling Bobbi to keep Luis and his family in their seats, as this could get ugly.

Hawkeye taps Prince Charming on his shoulder and asks 'Excuse me... don't I owe you a shirt?' 'Is this clown talking to me?' Prince Charming asks the man walking beside him. 'Looks it, man' the other man replies, before asking Prince if he is missing a shirt. 'Gimme a break. And you get away from me. I don't know you, man!' Prince Charming snaps, but Hawkeye smiles at him and tells him that they had some good times together. 'Are you crazy, man?' Prince asks. 'Aw! No! You remember the police station? The quarry?' Hawkeye enquires. Prince looks around nervously and tells Hawkeye to back off, as he looks over and sees his sky-cycle. 'Recognized the sky-cycle, did you? Good. Tell your buddy who I am. See if he wants to stick around and do business' Hawkeye tells Prince, who attempts to punch him, 'You got no right to harass me, man!' Prince calls out, as Hawkeye blocks his punch. 'No – but as a witness to mass murder, I've got a few questions!' Hawkeye replies as he knocks Prince backwards.

Prince's associate makes a run for it, and Prince pulls out a gun from his jacket. Hawkeye tells Prince that he is curious, and asks him how come he is the only one of the Perfs who survived. 'Who sent that helicopter, Prince?' Hawkeye asks. Prince declares that he doesn't have to answer, but Hawkeye grabs Prince's wrist and they start to scuffle, as Hawkeye asks Prince if someone paid him to lead his friends to their deaths. 'Talk to me, you miserable -' Hawkeye begins, when suddenly, the gun fires. 'Are you nuts? The street is full of people! That shot could've -' Clint begins, when suddenly, 'CLINT!' Bobbi screams. 'Anita's been hit!' she calls out, as Anita Gutierrez sits motionless in her chair, a pool of blood forming on her chest. 'My sister! You shot my sister! YOU ARE DEAD, FERNANDO! I'LL KILL YOU!' Luis shouts, leaping up on his chair and addressing Prince by his true name, while his mother, Monica, look on in shock, 'Oh no – oh, God – NO!' she utters.

'This isn't my fault, man! You wanted trouble!' Prince Charming snaps as he grabs Hawkeye's wrist and forces the side of the gun to his head, whacking him hard, causing Clint to fall to the ground. Prince picks the gun up and holds it in front of Clint, 'Okay – now you got some!' he exclaims, but before he can shoot Hawkeye, several police officers rush on scene. 'Freeze, punk!' one of them calls out. 'Drop the gun – nice and easy!' another warns him. 'Beverly Hills pigs' Prince mutters, before aiming his gun at one of them and opening fire: 'EAT!' he shouts, shooting one of the officers, who falls backwards. 'Gotta go, Hawkus. Blow your head off another time!' Prince remarks as he takes a device from Hawkeye's pocket and climbs on the sky-cycle. 'Hope this's what I think it is!' Prince remarks, as the sky-cycle takes off. One of the officers fires at him, 'Son of a -' the officer exclaims, but Prince just shouts back 'Go back to the firing range, porker!' while wondering where the breaks are on the sky-cycle.

A short time later, 'OWWW!' Prince calls out as Lotus rakes her sharp fingernails across his face. 'A gun – in broad daylight on Beverly Drive! And now this!' Lotus snaps, motioning to where Prince has crashed the sky-cycle into her lawn, creating a massive dirt ditch. 'Do you have any idea what you've done? That's not a Kawasaki you can buy at the mall! It's probably equipped with half-a-dozen tracking devices that will lead Hawkeye right to my door!' Lotus exclaims, before ordering Prince to get it out of here. 'C'mon, man I'm bleeding! Can't I -' Prince begins, but Lotus slaps him hard across his face. 'I said now!' she shrieks, before telling him not to come back, as he has proven himself an ignoramus and therefore useless to her. 'If you haven't gone in the next 30 seconds – you died in the crash! Is that clear enough?' she asks.

On Beverly Drive, John Walker the USAgent has arrived and hands Clint his bow and a quiver full of arrows. 'I never know what to say at times like this, Hawk. I'm, y'know, sorry about the little girl' USAgent tells his teammate, before asking if he wants his help nailing the creep. 'No' Hawkeye replies, before thanking USAgent for bringing the stuff so quickly. Clint turns to Bobbi and asks her if there is any work on Luis. Bobbi reports that he is still missing, she even called the hospital to see if he tode in the ambulance, but he didn't. 'What about Anita?' Hawkeye asks, although Bobbi informs him that she wasn't able to be saved, and tells Clint that she supposes he is going to decline her help, too. Clint tells Bobbi to stay with Monica, as she is going to need all the comfort she can get, before he takes off on another sky-cycle.


Sometime later, in Downtown LA, “Don't come back” Prince Charming thinks to himself, recalling Lotus' last words to him. 'Keep wishing, you stuck-up rich – keep wishing!' Prince thinks, deciding that once he gets the hang of things thing, she is going to fly it straight down Lotus' throat. 'You're gonna die, Lotus!' Prince declares, when suddenly, the sky-cycle Hawkeye is riding sneaks up behind him and knocks the back of the stolen sky-cycle, sending Prince off-balance and causing him to fall to a rooftop nearby. 'You don't belong in the sky!' Clint calls out. 'You belong in a sewer – with roaches and vermin nibbling on your brain!' Hawkeye roars as he leaps from his own sky-cycle, grabbing Prince and shoving him against the edge of the rooftop.

'You killed that little girl!' Hawkeye shouts as he stands over Prince, holding him up by his shirt. 'And you lured your own friends into a death trap, didn't you? Didn't you?' Hawkeye asks. 'So what?' Prince replies, causing Hawkeye to punch him in the face. 'Is there one good reason you should've been born?' Hawkeye asks. He holds Prince up by his collar again and asks him what good he is to anyone – even to himself 'You ever wonder about these things? Do you ever think about anything?' Hawkeye asks, before throwing Prince down onto the rooftop. 'Know what I've always wondered? Whether any human alive could be so totally worthless – that I could kill without remorse?' Hawkeye asks.

Enraged, Hawkeye stands over Prince and continues shouting: 'And you know what I just found out? The answer is “yes” - and it doesn't matter! I could pop an arrow through your skull and feel like I did the world a service – except for what it would do to me! I'd have to sink to your putrid level! And that would disgust me even more than you do!' Hawkeye concludes. 'Yeah...? Know what I just found out? You're really stupid, man! And it just cost you your -' Prince Charming begins, pulling the gun out from his jacket, he aims it at Hawkeye – but he's interrupted before he can fire it by someone shouting 'ALL PERFS DIE!' and Prince cries out in pain as a barrage of bullets is fired at him, several of the striking across his midsection, blood immediately begins to pool around him.

Hawkeye looks over and sees a young teenage boy drop a machine gun nearby. 'I am... sorry. I could not let him hurt you. I could not let any of them...hurt anybody anymore' the boy calls out. 'Oh, God...no!' Hawkeye utters, dropping his bow, he steps closer to the child, who wears a makeshift mask, probably a stocking, over his face. It's Luis Gutierrez – he's wearing the same clothes and shoes. 'If he was the last one, there is no more need for the Terminizer' Luis, identifying himself as the vigilante, announces, as he starts to remove his mask. 'No – stop!' Hawkeye calls out, raising a hand. Hawkeye tells the boy not to show him his face. 'I have to believe one good thing came out of all of this...I... have to' Hawkeye utters. Hawkeye drops down so one knee so that he is level with the Terminizer. 'Did I – what you said – drop to his level? Am I like him now?' Luis asks. 'I...don't think so' Hawkeye tells him. Luis asks Hawkeye if he has to arrest him, but Hawkeye, crying, just hugs Luis, 'No more questions. Just go home. Your mother needs you now' he utters.

That night, at the Avengers West Compound, Hawkeye and Mockingbird are drinking some coffee, sitting opposite each other in the kitchen. USAgent pours himself a cup and exclaims 'I don't understand you! You actually saw this Terminizer psycho – and didn't even try to capture him?' USAgent points out that if the cops ever get wind of this, it is going to look awful for the Avengers. 'You've got a responsibility to more than just yourself' USAgent adds. Hawkeye tells his teammate that he doesn't need a lecture on this particular subject, and adds that he won't talk about what happened. 'So let's drop it, okay!' Hawkeye snaps. 'Yeah, well, if you ever change your mind, I'm curious as Helena, Montana to hear the story' Agent frowns as he walks out of the kitchen. 'You'll be the first... if I ever change my mind' Hawkeye assures him.

'Second, you mean' Mockingbird remarks, looking at Hawkeye. 'You will tell your wife first, I hope' she adds. Hawkeye tells her it is a moot point, as he isn't going to change his mind. 'Not for ten years or so, anyway – till I'm sure I made the right decision' Hawkeye adds, taking her by her hand. 'Wonderful. I have to live your self-doubt till the year 2000?' Bobbi frowns. 'Maybe. If he's lucky' Hawkeye replies. 'They die young down there'.

Characters Involved: 

Hawkeye, Mockingbird, USAgent (all Avengers West Coast)


Anita, Luis & Monica Gutierrez


Lotus Newmark

Prince Charming


Mode Blanks

Lotus Newmark's staff

Prince Charming's associate



(in flashback images)

Lotus Newmark

Jerome Newmark

Lotus' mother


Sweat shop workers

Li Fong

Tong members

Story Notes: 

This issue concludes the Hawkeye vs gangs story line from Avengers Spotlight #30-34.

The Stone Perfs gang members were killed in Avengers Spotlight #34.

Final issue of Avengers Spotlight to feature Hawkeye.

Although he hasn't appeared since this issue, Luis, as the Terminizer, received an entry in the Civil War: Battle Damage Report.

Lotus Newmark returns in Wonder Man (2nd series) #4, remaining a supporting antagonist in that series until issue #25.

Written By: