mentions of 616 hawkeye’s deafness prior to 2014
see here for my simplified timeline of 616 clint barton’s deafness
clint barton debuted in 1964 as a hearing character. in the last issue of his first solo series, hawkeye vol. 1 #4 (released in december 1983), clint became hard of hearing when he activated his hypersonic arrowhead in his mouth to drown out a mind-control frequency:
clint’s subsequent official marvel handbook entries would note that he was 80% deaf in both ears:
he would remain so up until either 1996 or the end of 1997, after which he was hearing once again (we’ll get to his re-deafening in 2014 later). the following panels will focus on the 1984-1996 period.
clint returned to the avengers after the events of his solo series in avengers #239 (1984), wherein he informed the team of his hearing loss and was given a hearing aid (which he chooses not to wear in the issue because he’s appearing on tv):
he informs cap, who wasn’t present in #239, of his hearing loss (and elopement) in avengers #241 (1984):
his hearing loss isn’t brought up again until over a year later in west coast avengers v2 #1 (1985):
he first mentions that he’s wearing a hearing aid in captain america #317 (1986). this issue was written by mark gruenwald, who also wrote hawkeye v1 where clint was deafened, so he was in a good position to call back to it and remind the reader of this development:
all further acknowledgment of clint’s hearing loss in this period occurred in one series: solo avengers (later renamed to avengers: spotlight). it’s interesting to note that in all but one of these instances, clint is written as either turning down his hearing aid to avoid sound-based attacks, or “turning it up” to hear extraordinarily quiet noises.
the first instance is in solo avengers #9 (1988):
solo avengers #10 (1988) establishes in-comic that clint is 80% deaf in both ears, a specificity which had only previously been mentioned in his marvel handbook entries:
solo avengers #16 (1989) has clint hearing something that would be undetectable by an average hearing person. notably, this is also the only panel i’ve seen from 1984-1996 where clint visibly has a hearing aid. although as you can see, the coloring places it outside of his mask (half the time clint’s mask is portrayed as covering his ears and half not because of coloring):
here’s a sound attack dodge in solo avengers #17 (1989):
in avengers: spotlight #26 (1989), clint disables high-tech devices, and is shown not to hear tony speaking to him once his hearing aid is turned off in the last page:
in avengers: spotlight #28 (1990), clint is immune to the combined sound powers of the issue’s villains--where others perceived a visual illusion of them as other people, clint saw them in their true forms:
from what i’ve observed, there were no mentions of hearing loss or appearances of hearing aids from 1991-1996. so to tally these up, 6/10 of all mentions after hawkeye v1 #4, and all those after 1986, were from the same series.
in 1996, clint was killed in marvel’s onslaught event (along with most marvel heroes). he then appeared in marvel’s briefly rebooted universe, counter-earth (created by young franklin richards and accessible through his toy ball. yeah.). whether counter-earth hawkeye is considered the same person as 616 clint is a whole can of comic worms we’ll not worry ourselves with...
he did appear without a mask on counter-earth in avengers v2 #11 (1997). honestly, with how it’s drawn, i can’t entirely tell if it’s meant to be a hearing aid, some take on a futuristic hospital monitor, or what. in any case:
in 1998, clint is revived/returned, and is no longer deaf. an in-universe explanation for why is given in avengers annual v3 2001:
the editorial reason given for the change is that clint’s hearing loss was treated very inconsistently in-comics, and by ‘98, was largely not known among both writers and readers. this seems plausible; unless they had read hawkeye’s 1983 miniseries, consistently read solo avengers, or scoured what were essentially marvel encyclopedias, there had been little indication that clint was deaf (no visible hearing aids, not brought up in main titles for 12 years...). since it seemed to the writer that clint had continued to be written as if he were a hearing character, he decided to revert him to one.
clint’s period of hearing loss was acknowledged in she-hulk v2 #2 (2006), when jen walters states that clint knows sign language:
in fact, this appears to be the very first mention of clint knowing sign language, as ASL was never referenced in all preceding issues and handbooks.
in 2014, clint would be deafened again in hawkeye v4 #15. currently, the degree of his hearing loss and the type of hearing aids he wears--though usually a BTE when visible, and at times IICs in the form of “stark tech”--is dependent on the writer/series. here’s clint in hawkeye: freefall #6 (2020):
he is, however, shown to be fluent in ASL, as it was retconned in hawkeye v4 #19 that he had temporary hearing loss as a child and learned it with his brother
711 notes · View notes