31 Jan

Things You Didn't Know About Hawkeye's Jacques 'Jack' Duquesne, Aka The Swordsman

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On the Disney+ series “Hawkeye,” Jack Duquesne initially infuriated viewers by intruding on Kate Bishop’s family, only for the show’s final episode to reveal that he was a heroic himbo with braggable combat skills and earnestly decent intentions. In the comics, it was different. There, Jacques Duquesne, whom writer Stan Lee and artist Don Heck debuted in “Avengers” #19 in 1965, remained so unloved that he didn’t even receive a name beyond “the Swordsman” until 1989’s “Avengers Spotlight” #22, when writer Lou Mougin finally revealed his secret identity. That was 25 years after his (first) death in “Giant-Size Avengers” #2. 

Jacques’ esteemed pedigree couldn’t offset his flaws as a neurotic romantic partner, an untrustworthy teammate, an incompetent crook, and a disappointing mentor who inadvertently sparked one of the most significant and enduring wars in Marvel Comics. Jacques Duquesne failed enough to fill lifetimes, but he notched some wins before (and after) he died. If you loved Jack on “Hawkeye” as much as we did, here’s everything else you need to know about his comic book counterpart.

Swashbuckling Is In His Blood

On his 18th birthday, Jacques Duquesne’s father, French aristocrat Armand Duquesne, bequeathed Jacques the sword of their ancestor René Duquesne, who ran gangs in Paris and Marseilles as “the Crimson Cavalier.” The Crimson Cavalier (pictured above, second from the left) later joined the Freedom’s Five, a team of multinational (but mostly British) costumed heroes that fought the Germans, the vampire Baron Blood, and H.G. Wells-inspired Martian invaders of London during the first World War.

Notably, the Cavalier also went by the name of Jean-Luc Batroc, sharing a surname with frequent Captain America foe Georges Batroc, aka Batroc the Leaper. The Duquesne family also shares a last name with a character from sci-fi author E.E. “Doc” Smith’s “Skylark” novels. Like Jacques, Marc “Blackie” DuQuesne gradually reformed over the course of his adventures.

Although Jacques was shown unmasked in his first appearance in 1965, his friends and even his lovers called him “Swordsman” until 1989.

So Is Culturally Insensitive Interventionism

Outside of World War I Europe, the Duquesne family leaves a less-positive legacy behind. Armand Duquesne serves as a government official in the fictional nation of Sin-Cong, a French protectorate in Southeast Asia, long enough for Jacques to grow up there. Armand is bigoted toward the country’s natives and abusive toward his servant Nguyen. However, Jacques harbors enough compassion for both Nguyen and his countrymen that Nguyen feels safe bringing Jacques to a secret meeting of Sin-Cong natives to listen to their revolutionary leader, Wong-Chu.

After hearing Armand’s tales about the Crimson Cavalier’s efforts to resist German occupation, Jacques sees the French’s century-long occupation of Sin-Cong as no less oppressive, and the younger Duquesne creates the costumed identity of the Swordsman to drive out the French on behalf of Wong-Chu.

The French withdraw from Sin-Cong, but Wong-Chu keeps his promise to reunite Jacques and Armand after the war by revealing that Nguyen already murdered Armand. Like Baron Harkonnen with Dr. Yueh and his wife in “Dune,” Wong-Chu bids Jacques to join his father in death, but the younger Duquesne escapes to America instead.

The Swordsman Started An Even Worse Vietnam War

If you’re a Marvel Comics fan, the name Wong-Chu might sound familiar. He’s the warlord who captures Tony Stark and Professor Ho Yinsen in Vietnam, compelling the two geniuses to co-create the first Iron Man suit in 1962’s “Tales of Suspense” #39. So, Tony had reason enough to dislike Jacques even before writer Mark Waid expanded the scope of Jacques’ party foul in “History of the Marvel Universe” #2 in 2019.

Sin-Cong has been a thinly veiled stand-in for Vietnam since it first appeared in “Avengers” #18 in 1965, but the real-life Vietnam War still featured in the original backstories of American military veterans Frank Castle (the Punisher), James Rhodes (War Machine), and Flash Thompson (the high school frenemy of Peter Parker).

In the wake of the September 11 attacks, Marvel Comics retconned a number of its Vietnam veterans into having served in the Middle East instead. However, “History of the Marvel Universe” #2 named not only Castle and Rhodes, but also the Fantastic Four’s Reed Richards and Ben Grimm (both originally World War II veterans), as having served in “the Sin-Cong Conflict.”

The issue’s appendix notes that the Vietnam War still happened in Marvel Comics. The fictional Sin-Cong Conflict was created to accommodate the comics’ “floating timeline” and avoid anchoring Marvel’s veterans to specific, fixed historic wars (Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes notwithstanding), albeit by establishing a “forever war.”

The Swordsman Trained Hawkeye

As the geopolitical consequences of his naïve idealism play out on the other side of the globe, Jacques Duquesne pursues strictly middling levels of fame and fortune in America by employing his swordsmanship to become the star attraction of the Carson Carnival of Traveling Wonders. When runaway brothers Clint and Barney Barton stumble across the carnival, the Swordsman impresses them with his skills. And when a drunkard claiming to be their legal guardian arrives, Jacques stands between the boys and their pursuer, allowing them to stay with the carnival.

Before long, Jacques makes Clint his assistant, teaching him acrobatics and knife-throwing and revealing his natural aptitude for marksmanship. After the Swordsman loses his top spot at the carnival to the archer Trick Shot (Buck Chisholm), Jacques aims to improve Clint’s prospects by beating Buck in a game of cards so that Buck can clear his debt by tutoring Clint.

Jacques nonetheless grows jealous of Clint, warning his protégé not to surpass him, while the Swordsman’s own gambling debts grow to the point that he resorts to theft to cover them. Clint catches him robbing the carnival and rejects Jacques’ offer to make him a partner-in-crime, sending the Swordsman chasing after him. When Clint flees across the high-wire, the Swordsman cuts it down, presuming he’s finished off his apprentice. Clint survives the fall but breaks both his legs, while Jacques runs away again, this time to Europe.

He’s Literally A Man Without A Country

The Swordsman’s career as an international criminal mercenary is curtailed when he returns to America after being deported from a dozen European countries, which inspires him to try and rehabilitate his reputation by joining the Avengers. This isn’t actually a bad plan. At this time, the team includes Clint Barton, who previously fought heroes ranging from Iron Man to Spider-Man, and Pietro and Wanda Maximoff, aka Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, who earlier served on Magneto’s self-described “Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.” 

Of course, Jacques is such a master of self-sabotage that he ultimately takes years to successfully redeem himself, and most of his attempted (and failed) bids for redemption only make matters worse. Even when he’s finally judged worthy of full Avengers membership, he remains barred from a number of nations.

He Has No Idea How To Win Friends Or Influence People

Jacques Duquesne’s application process for the Avengers begins with him breaking into the team’s headquarters, defeating an overconfident Quicksilver, getting beaten by the Scarlet Witch, and then storming off in a snit after Captain America runs a background check that reveals how much crime the Swordsman has committed (the correct answer is, “So much crime”). When Hawkeye rejoins his teammates, he shares his troubled history with the Swordsman, which leaves the Avengers even less inclined to pledge their loyalty to Jacques, especially after he threatens a captured Captain America.

If you’re an Avenger, escaping from captivity is as challenging as tying your shoelaces, especially if any non-captive teammates are present. Sure enough, Cap frees himself with assists from Pietro, Clint, and Wanda, but just as they’re about to smack down the Swordsman, he’s teleported away by Iron Man’s old foe, the Mandarin.

The Mandarin sends the Avengers a fake holographic message from Iron Man vouching for the Swordsman so that Jacques can plant a bomb at the team’s headquarters. The Mandarin hopes to destroy Iron Man, but after he learns that Tony is no longer an active-duty Avenger, he decides to detonate the bomb anyway.

Jacques’ fondness for Wanda persuades him that even his enemies deserve a fighting chance, so he removes the bomb. However, Captain America and Hawkeye catch him doing so, and believe he’s planting it instead.

A “Dumb And Dumber” Duo

Before the Swordsman betrays both the Mandarin and the Avengers, the Mandarin augments the Swordsman’s sword with advanced alien technology, allowing it to project energy beams, electrical blasts, disintegration rays, jets of flame, and streams of knockout gas. However, because Jacques Duquesne can’t cite his former employer or teammates for positive job references, he hides in a traveling circus again. 

There, he’s discovered by Black Widow, who is, at the time, a Russian spy brainwashed by the Chinese to destroy the Avengers. The Widow recruits Jacques and Erik Josten — a Wisconsin farm boy who was bombarded with “Ionic Rays” to become “Power Man” — to take on the Avengers. While the duo is less than successful, Jacques and Erik stick together. The Red Skull recruits them to battle Captain America, and the villainous scientist Egghead (Dr. Elihas Starr) accepts them into “Egghead’s Emissaries of Evil,” who get trounced by Wolverine and the Canadian superhero team “The Flight” (the forerunner to Alpha Flight). Jacques and Erik are even hired by the Mandarin to steal diamonds in Bolivia.

When the Swordsman and Power Man split up, Jacques connects with possible Duquesne family relative Georges Batroc, becoming a founding member of “Batroc’s Brigade” just in time to charge face-first into Captain America’s fists again. Meanwhile, Egghead finally confirms Jacques’ suspicions that Hawkeye is Clint Barton, but when Egghead hires Jacques to abduct Goliath, neither villain knows the Goliath identity has passed from Hank Pym to Clint.

Hooking Up With A Future Guardian Of The Galaxy

When the captured Clint constructs a giant bow and arrow to save Jacques’ life, Jacques’ admission that Clint has surpassed him is merely the start of the Swordsman’s downward spiral. Jacques’ stint on the Grim Reaper’s team, the Lethal Legion, leads to another defeat, this time resulting in temporary imprisonment. However, when the Avengers call for members past and present to assemble against the Enchantress and Ares, the Swordsman proves himself to his skeptical fellow Avengers in the ensuing battle.

Jacques still fears being apprehended by the Avengers and other authorities around the world, and is virtually unemployable as a criminal mercenary due to his losing streak. So, he becomes an enforcer for the Vietnamese gangster Monsieur Khruul. During that time, an alcoholic Jacques takes up with a sympathetic bargirl, Mantis, who nurses him back to health after Khruul leaves him for dead.

Mantis’ encouragement leads Jacques to reform, return to America, and rejoin the Avengers. Not only does the Swordsman earn Thor and Captain America’s support, but Mantis’ martial artistry and empathic abilities also impress the team.

Hidden Temples, Memories, And Emotions

After the Avengers defeat the criminal cartel known as the Zodiac, the German Libra (Gustav Brandt) reveals that he fathered Mantis with a Vietnamese woman, Lua Nguyen, whose brother was Khruul. Disapproving of their marriage, Khruul killed Lua, blinded Brandt, and tried to kill Mantis, sending father and daughter fleeing into the Vietnamese jungle, where they discovered the temple of the Priests of Pama (secretly pacifist Kree aliens). But Mantis can’t reconcile her memories with the past Brandt describes, especially when it comes to the Priests of Pama raising her and endowing her with empathic powers.

Brandt’s disclosures prompt Jacques to steal an Avengers Quinjet to confront Khruul, but because the Swordsman remains weak from recent combat injuries, Khruul is able to torture him into sharing what Libra revealed about Mantis and the Priests of Pama. The Avengers arrive too late to save the Priests of Pama, whose slaughter by Khruul frees the “Star Stalker,” a monster from the planet Vormir that the Priests kept dormant. The creature kills Khruul. In addition, while the Avengers battle the Star Stalker, Jacques confesses his love for Mantis to Wanda. Later, Jacques also voices his long-held suspicions that the Vision has designs on Mantis, shocking both Mantis and Wanda.

Mantis can’t deal with Jacques’ persistent declarations of love while she’s trying to piece together her life story, so when Jacques responds to her rejection by lashing out, Mantis chooses to pursue the Vision instead. However, the “Vizh” banishes Mantis to the friend zone, because he still loves Wanda.

Kang Lost Mantis To An Alien Plant Zombie Of The Swordsman

Kang the Conqueror’s search for the Celestial Madonna — the prophesied mother of the Celestial Messiah — comes down to three candidates: Mantis, Wanda Maximoff, and Agatha Harkness.

Now, Marvel Comics’ Agatha Harkness is not the hot suburban MILF who appears in “WandaVision,” but she does psychically reveal to Jacques Duquesne where Kang is holding her, Mantis, and Wanda. So, the Swordsman recruits Hawkeye and the ancient Egyptian variant of Kang known as Rama-Tut to infiltrate the Conqueror’s headquarters. Concluding that Mantis is the Celestial Madonna, Kang decides he’d rather kill her than not have her, but Jacques sacrifices himself to save Mantis, and his body is buried in the Priests of Pama’s temple garden.

However, the trees in the garden are Cotati, sentient plants from the Kree homeworld. The eldest tree, the Prime Cotati, transfers its consciousness into Jacques Duquesne’s body. That means that Mantis can marry him and fulfill her destiny as the Celestial Madonna.

Kang attempts to capture Mantis again, but he’s thwarted by his future self, Immortus, who substitutes Mantis with a Space Phantom duplicate. Then, Immortus officiates a double wedding between the real Mantis and the Cotati-inhabited Swordsman, as well as the Vision and the Scarlet Witch. The spirits of Mantis and the Cotati subsequently leave the Earth to conceive the Celestial Messiah, albeit while alternating between human bodies and plant constructs.

The Swordsman’s Haunted Loins Sired An Alien Plant Antichrist

Mantis and the Cotai’s son is named Sequoia, and adopts the nicknames “Quoi” and “Q” during his rebellious adolescence, with custody proving contentious between Mantis and the Cotati throughout his childhood. Fortunately, Sequoia’s parents set aside their petty squabbles to provide a stable upbringing so he can achieve his destiny as the Celestial Messiah — HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. No, I’m just kidding. Actually, he grows up into a genocidal maniac after the chemical company Alchemax razes the Cotati grove at the Priests of Pama’s temple in Vietnam.

In Marvel Comics’ “Empyre” event, published from December of 2019 through January of 2021, the perpetually feuding Kree and Skrull empires unite to combat the Cotati’s campaign against all animal life, led by Sequoia. Although the ostensible Celestial Messiah initially projects a pacifistic façade, he schemes to breach Wakanda and plant a Death Blossom in its Vibranium-enriched soil, which would boost his powers to cosmic levels.

Mantis reaches out to Sequoia to no avail, but both mother and son survive “Empyre,” while Sequoia’s father and fellow human-Cotati hybrid, the Cotati-inhabited Swordsman, is impaled by the Black Panther with the Excelsior Star-Sword. The so-called Celestial Messiah remains unrepentant about believing that the universe needs liberating from its exploitation by animal life, and all the Cotati are teleported to a secluded planet in uncharted space.

A Legion Of The Unliving Three-Timer

Beyond the Cotati piloting his body, Jacques Duquesne has also popped up post-mortem, appearing in three of the six versions of the Legions of the Unliving.

In 1987’s “Avengers Annual” #16, the Grandmaster and the Collector send our heroes to the Realm of Death to battle the second Legion of the Unliving. In 1990’s “Avengers West Coast” #61, Immortus summons a third Legion of the Unliving to delay the Avengers while he seeks to use the Scarlet Witch as a Nexus to control time. And in 1998’s “Avengers” #10-11, the returned Grim Reaper (Eric Williams) uses the powers of his brother Wonder Man (Simon Williams) to summon a fifth Legion of the Unliving, consisting of former Avengers who died in battle.

The Swordsman also returns during the 2010-11 “Chaos War” crossover, during which the Chaos King destroys various Realms of Death, allowing the dead to walk the Earth.

Variants And Successors

When the Avengers are attacked by the Gatherers, a team of alternate universe variants of the Avengers led by Proctor, a multiversal variant of Dane Whitman, Philip Javert is the Gatherers’ Swordsman. Javert and his fellow Gatherer Magdalene fall in love and turn against Proctor, briefly becoming the Avengers in the primary Marvel Comics Universe until they leave to find a new home in another dimension.

In the 1996-97 “Heroes Reborn” crossover, the Fantastic Four’s Franklin Richards creates a “Counter-Earth” in a pocket universe where the Avengers and Fantastic Four are temporarily rebooted, and the Swordsman is retroactively promoted to a founding Avenger. When the rest of the Avengers and the Fantastic Four return to the primary Marvel Comics Universe a few years later, the “Heroes Reborn” Swordsman becomes known as “the last Avenger” of his universe, before he’s diagnosed with cancer and adopts the identity of Deadpool. This take on Swordsman is one of many multiversal variants of Deadpool slaughtered by the Deadpool Corps in the 2013 “Deadpool Kills Deadpool” miniseries.

Second-generation Nazi Andreas von Strucker, son of Baron Wolfgang von Strucker and one half of a supervillain duo alongside his twin sister, Andrea, adopts the Swordsman alias in a characteristically creepy way: He wraps the grip of his sword with the skin of his dead sister so that he can still access their “Fenris” powers. Finally, in 2014’s “Avengers World” #8, Jacques’ illegitimate daughter, alternately identified as Adelynn and Marjorie, first appears as the dashing Swordswoman, part of the Black Knight-led Euroforce superhero team.

Read this next: 11 Marvel Comics Villains We Really Want To See In The MCU

The post Things you didn’t know about Hawkeye’s Jacques ‘Jack’ Duquesne, aka the Swordsman appeared first on /Film.


Source: Slash Film

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