Which Marvel Superheroes Were Ronin Besides Hawkeye

Today, we look at how the Ronin armor (and the identity that came with it) went up for grabs in the Marvel Universe before similar things happened in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

This is a feature called "Written in the Book." It is basically the reverse of another feature of mine called "Follow the Path," where I spotlight changes made to comic book characters that are based on outside media, as well as characters who entirely came from outside media. Nowadays, there are so many comic book films and TV series out there that we can spotlight examples of TV and film adapting specific and less famous comic book stories to other media (so no "Spider-Man lifts up debris" or stuff like that).

In Avengers: Endgame, we see a mysterious person known only as Ronin has been spending the five years since Thanos "snapped" away half of the life in the universe has been slaughtering as many criminal organizations as it could. Eventually, after Ronin slaughtered a Tokyo crime family, Ronin is unmasked to reveal that it is Clint Barton, the hero known as Hawkeye, driven by the grief of his wife and children all being killed in Thanos' "snap"...

In the new Hawkeye TV series on Disney+, the Ronin costume is scavenged from the Avengers Compound following the attack by Thanos' forces (it was a very well-made costume, so it survived the destruction of the compound) and auctioned off to a group of criminals when Kate Bishop steals it to conceal her identity and she causes a bit of a mess using the costume, forcing people to believe that Ronin had returned...

Clint Barton is forced to get involved with the costume once more and that is the set-up for the current Hawkeye series. However, the Ronin costume has also changed hands a lot in the comics and caused all sorts of similar problems, so let's take a look!

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Brian Michael Bendis originally planned on a certain devil-themed blind hero to become the hero known as Ronin so that he could fight alongside the Avengers. That never happened (I'll be writing about that tomorrow), so instead, in New Avengers #11 (by Bendis, David Finch, Danny Miki and Frank D'Armata), Ronin shows up taking down crime families in Japan just like in Avengers: Endgame...

However, two issues later, when the Avengers show up to recruit Ronin to work with them, we learn that the Ronin name is actually an attempt by the hero, Echo, to disguise herself, by making it appear as though she was a man (Captain America had specifically recruited Echo to help take down the Yakuza, but she came up with the Ronin identity angle). Echo was a hero who had previously been turned against Daredevil by the Kingpin before she learned the truth. She had debuted in a storyline by David Mack and Joe Quesada (Mack was a longtime collaborator with Bendis and Bendis' big Marvel break was a fill-in story arc on Daredevil with Mack before Bendis got Ultimate Spider-Man and then Bendis returned to write Daredevil full-time)...

Once her identity was exposed, Echo no longer needed the Ronin identity to protect herself (Echo recently made her MCU debut in the second episode of the Hawkeye TV series and is set to play a prominent role in the MCU).


In New Avengers #27 (by Bendis, Leinil Yu and Dave McCaig), the Avengers show up to rescue Echo from the Hand, who had planned to brainwash her and turn her into one of their soldiers. Among the Avengers showing up to save her is a new Ronin...

A few issues later, we learned that Clint Barton had come back from the dead during House of M, but he was just kind of messed up following, you know, dying, so he sort of rambled around until Captain America was killed during Civil War, at which point he started looking for other heroes. By this point, Kate Bishop had adopted the Hawkeye name as part of the Young Avengers, and Clint was willing to just move past his Hawkeye days, but still wanted to help, so the New Avengers noted that the Ronin name was available and so Hawkeye picked it up, as shown in New Avengers #32 (where Wolverine suspects he might be a Skrull, seeing as how he conveniently showed up alive after dying during Avengers: Disassembled)...

Hawkeye continued to rock the Ronin armor for the next few years, during which time he was reunited with his ex-wife, Mockingbird, whose death actually WAS faked by a Skrull. Clint really settled into the Ronin identity, especially when he tried to assassinate Norman Osborn after the villain took control of S.H.I.E.L.D. and launched his own Avengers team (with Bullseye being the new Hawkeye). It was only once Osborn was arrested and his Dark Avengers broken up that Clint felt safe retuning to the Hawkeye identity (which he now shared with Kate Bishop).

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In the 1990 graphic novel, The Coldest War (by Gerry Conway, George Freeman and a pile of inkers), Black Widow's first husband, the original Red Guardian, was brought back as an advanced Life Model Decoy...

This L.M.D. later became Ronin for a while, specifically during the "Widowmaker" crossover event between Black Widow and Hawkeye and Mockingbird (instead of having a traditional crossover, both books were canceled and their creative teams just split a Widowmaker miniseries together). It was specifically Jim McCann, David Lopez, Alvaro Lopez and Nathan Fairbairn that made the reveal in Widowmaker #3...


In the Mighty Avengers series that launched during the Infinity crossover, a mysterious hero wanted to disguise his identity and at first was using a Spider-Man Halloween costume. The Avengers eventually helped him out and lent him the Ronin armor in Mighty Avengers #4 (by Al Ewing, Greg Land, Jay Leisten and Frank D'Armata)...

And in Mighty Avengers #9 (same creative team, plus Edgar Delgado assisting on colors), we learn that it was Blade!

This was just a temporary thing.


Most recently, in the Hawkeye: Freefall miniseries (by Matthew Rosenberg and Otto Schmidt), Clint decided to use the Ronin identity again to take on The Hood's criminal empire anonymously. The Hood hires Bullseye to find out who this new Ronin is and when Bullseye discovers it is Hawkeye, Bullseye then takes the Ronin armor and starts killing indiscriminately to try to ruin Ronin's reputation, leading to Clint dressing up as Bullseye to confront Bullesye dressed up as Ronin...

It was that kind of crazy fun miniseries (there was also a Skrull involved, of course!).

All said and done, I think the "best" Ronin was probably when Clint was using it, because there really did seem like a great purpose for the name, where Echo was just using it as a gimmick, Clint really briefly embraced the idea of being a "Ronin" and not having a true hero identity anymore. Good stuff.

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About The Author
Brian Cronin (15139 Articles Published)

CBR Senior Writer Brian Cronin has been writing professionally about comic books for over a dozen years now at CBR (primarily with his “Comics Should Be Good” series of columns, including Comic Book Legends Revealed). He has written two books about comics for Penguin-Random House – Was Superman a Spy? And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed and Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent? And Other Amazing Comic Book Trivia! and one book, 100 Things X-Men Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, from Triumph Books. His writing has been featured at ESPN.com, the Los Angeles Times, About.com, the Huffington Post and Gizmodo. He features legends about entertainment and sports at his website, Legends Revealed and other pop culture features at Pop Culture References. Follow him on Twitter at @Brian_Cronin and feel free to e-mail him suggestions for stories about comic books that you'd like to see featured at [email protected]!

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