Hawkeye: Bobbi, honey. Let them go. Your mom… she has severe head trauma. Critical, but he missed the kill-shot. We got lucky.
Mockingbird: Lucky?! Lucky?! What was she doing here, Clint? Alone?! This is why I never–
Hawkeye: I know… sweetheart, I know…
Mockingbird: It’s my mom, Clint. My mom…
This is one of my favorite scenes in this series, because it is really very indicative of Clint and Bobbi’s relationship, regarding both the ways it has changed over the years and the ways it hasn’t.
Clint and Bobbi have always been pretty physical, as a couple, and I don’t just mean that in the obvious way. They met by falling all over each other, they were often too busy making out to get the door at the WCA compound, and when Steve Rogers announced that the SHRA had been thrown out, the first thing they did was turn to each other and kiss. Even beyond that, however, they have a tendency to offer each other physical support. Hands on shoulders, leaning on each other; they’re seen like that very often, even when they’re in the background of scenes. It’s something a byproduct of their genre and their medium, to be sure, but I also think it is something specific to the two of them. It characterizes a lot about their relationship.
So this scene, specifically—Bobbi’s mother has just been shot, and it is pretty much Clint’s fault. He found Susan Morse and brought her back to see Bobbi, and it’s because of that that Crossfire was able to target her. Clint’s culpability is something that is dealt with later, so this moment is more about Bobbi. She obviously goes through a lot of emotions in a few panels, but at the end she does accept Clint’s simple, and sincere, support. He doesn’t have to say anything, he just has to hold her and let her feel what she’s feeling. It’s particularly poignant when you remember that in the issue before this, he reached for her and she pushed him away. And it adds another layer when you consider that, years before, the one thing Bobbi wanted from Clint was simple and uncompromised support, and that was something he failed to give her.
Sometimes you don’t need someone to solve your problems for you. Bobbi gets up the panel after this, already on the warpath and ready to avenger her mother. She doesn’t need Clint to do that for her. But what she did need, in this moment, was support, and because the two of them have such a history of tactility, this was probably the best way he could give it.
From Hawkeye & Mockingbird #03 (Jim McCann & David López)
There’s a lot of talk about the fact that Hawkeye is canonically deaf in the comics (and uses hearing aids), but there’s rarely any mention of how this happened.
I think it’s important to remember Hawkeye didn’t just lose his hearing. He sacrificed it. It happens in the panels from the comic above, final issue of Hawkeye’s first solo limited, published in 1983 (written and penciled by Mark Gruenwald). In this comic, Hawkeye and Mockingbird (who he would marry at the end of the issue) are subjected to a sound that makes them go into a violent, uncontrollable rage. Hawkeye knows there’s a very good chance if he listens to this sound, he will beat Mockingbird to death.
This is a man who watched his father beat his mother. Who lost both his parents when his father forced his mother to drive with him when he was drunk. So when he’s faced with the possibility of becoming like his father, whether it’s of his own choice or not, and turning that kind of violence on a woman he loves, what does he do? He makes the decision to risk his own well being, to sacrifice one of his senses without knowing what the long term consequences will be, to prevent hurting her.
This is part of what makes Hawkeye’s deafness so important. It’s representation, yes, and we always need more of that in media. But it’s also a symbol of who he is, of who he’s willing to be. Yes, Hawkeye is the guy without any “real” powers, the guy who stands with the Avengers because he practiced until he got really, really good with arrows. But he’s also the guy who will put others first, who will do whatever needs to be done no matter the personal cost. Hawkeye’s deafness is a symbol of what makes him a hero, even without the powers.
Because that’s who Hawkeye is–the guy who shows that it doesn’t take a serum or a robot suit to be a hero. And his deafness is a reminder of that.
Bobbi: The liquid nitrogen in the arrow mixed with the boron in the sprinklers. That could work, all we’re missing is… Clint: A shockwave catalyst. Bobbi: How do you know about catalysts and toxins? Clint: Cap’s not the only guy I’ve learned from. I built my own arrows from the day I started. I fought beside the greatest minds we have. You pick up a thing or two from people like Hank Pym, Tony Stark…and you. We’ve got one shot at this. You don’t have to trust Rube Goldberg, but do you trust me? Bobbi: Do it. Clint: Um… Wow. Bobbi: It worked. A heterodiamond. Clint: A girl’s best friend. Ow! Not whole! Not whole!! Bobbi: It’s beautiful. Clint: It’s us.
– From New Avengers: The Reunion #4 by Jim McCann, art by David Lopez