Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Swordsman!

Jack Kirby & Don Heck

Jacques Duquesne, The Swordsman was just another second-tier baddie when I first started reading Marvel comics. He was a henchman with personality, almost always teaming up to take on the Avengers or some individual member such as Captain America. He became an Avenger briefly only to betray the team and then he became associated with the Mandarin and Power Man. Later it was revealed he'd had something significant to do with Hawkeye's history and suddenly the Swordsman became a much richer and inviting character, a baddie with backstory.

Marvel saw something in the guy though, as he made a momentary appearance in the hundredth issue of the Assemblers comic which brought all the members back together. Later he returned alongside Mantis and made a pitch to redeem himself. He did that, but soon enough died during the sprawling Kang War.

He made quite an impression on me though in his short heroic career, and the dopplegangers Marvel has trotted out since Duquesne's demise are the Swordsman in name only alas. In a universe that prides itself on tragic heroes, Swordsman was one of the most tragic.

Below is a gallery of most of Swordy's cover appearances. He's featured on very few of them. I've also included at the end a glimpse of two of his replacements, though how they fit into the fabric of Marvel is lost on me these days.

Jack Kirby & Wally Wood

Don Heck & Frank Giacoia

Jack Kirby & John Romita

Gil Kane

John Buscema

Jack Kirby & Dan Adkins

Ron Wilson & Joe Sinnott

Jack Kirby & Frank Giacoia

Gene Colan & Sam Grainger

John Buscema

Barry Windsor-Smith

John Romita

John Romita

Ron Wilson & Al Milgrom

Ron Wilson & Frank Giacoia

Gil Kane & John Romita

Ron Frenz & Mike Machlan

Swordsman Mark II

Swordsman Mark III

Rip Off


  1. The guy with the sword on Avengers #100 is the Black Knight (miscolored), not the Swordsman.
    The winged horse is the giveaway...

  2. Look between the Hulk's shoulder and Captain America and you'll see a shadowy figure. That's the Swordsman, who was a surprise "hero" in this issue before his turn a few years later.

    Rip Off

  3. what is it Avengers 129 that's practically a solo Swordsman issue? (I'm not at home right now, so I can't check).

    That's probably the high point of the Swordsman's career.

  4. "Look between the Hulk's shoulder and Captain America and you'll see a shadowy figure. That's the Swordsman, who was a surprise "hero" in this issue before his turn a few years later."

    My Bad. :-(

  5. Rip --

    Thanks for the retrospective! The Marvel Triple Action reprint of Avengers #19 was my very first Marvel comic, and began my lifelong love of the Avengers!


  6. Great memories of the Avengers when Cap took over as leader. That's the first Marvel series I began buying/reading regularly after being a DC guy since I discovered super-hero comics.

    Trading with someone in my neighborhood got me interested in Spider-Man and Daredevil and I went from there.

    The one Marvel T-shirt I ordered thru them was THE AVENGERS one. Man, I wish I had a new one of each plus the Hulk & Thing sweatshirts!!

    One of my few customs is a Goliath I made from the Marvel Legends version (since his antennae were falling off...which the trader had not mentioned...along with a cracked crotch! Double-ouch!!).

    He's on the far right:


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