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Friday, December 04, 2020 

It was bad when Marvel retconned the origin of Hawkeye's deafness to include more violence

Inverse announced Disney Plus is producing a TV show starring Hawkeye following up on Avengers: Endgame, and unsurprisingly makes sure to incorporate post-2000 elements like Kate Bishop. And the news also includes a description of the recent blatant retcons Marvel's politically correct writers forced onto Clint Barton's status as a guy who became mostly deaf in his ears:
In the comics, Hawkeye sustained damage to his hearing following a confrontation with the Clown, a villain who stabbed the superhero’s ears with arrows. In 2014’s Hawkeye Vol. 4 #19, Hawkeye began using American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate with his friends and family. Even the speech bubbles were altered to reflect ASL instead of spoken dialogue.

In an earlier storyline, Hawkeye’s hearing was lost after being kidnapped by Crossfire, an antagonist who could emit ultrasonic frequencies to entrance others. Hawkeye’s disability has played a key role in his life, but one of the most refreshing things about this particular story is that it isn't treated as something that could stop Clint from being a superhero at all. Rather, it gives him a new sense of empowerment.
The newer story comes from the 2012-15 volume, written by Matt Fraction, and it's another example of a modern story built on political correctness: it has to be more violent - and darker - than what came before in order to supposedly be appealing for whomever the newer audience is they think will actually flock en masse to read it over. And it's just simply galling. I own a trade reprinting the 1983 miniseries by Mark Gruenwald (curious that Inverse didn't think to specify the original tale's location), where Hawkeye lost 80 percent of his hearing but found a wife in Mockingbird for about a decade, before she was regrettably killed at the end of West Coast Avengers. And Gruenwald's story is a lot more satisfying, because it didn't rely on the shock value today's phonies are sadly obsessed with. Why do they think anybody sensible is going to be impressed with Clint using sign language in the newer take if the assigned writers and artists are going to dampen the impact with such a jarringly violent plot point where his ears get stuck with blades?

So even if it's not political per se, a corporate owned superhero story can still be a letdown when blatant, self-serving writers and artists change what was originally employed, all to serve their PC ideas of how to write a story in modern times, which only hints they're not interested in tipping their hats to the earlier scribes who'd done hard work to conceive the far superior storylines from the Bronze Age. A storyline where the hero employs sign language is fine, but soiling the proceedings with nastier elements relating to how the deaf hero got to where he is now only takes away the ability to truly appreciate it.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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