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Avengers Spotlight #36: Review

Sep 1990
Steve Gerber, Al Milgrom

Story Name:

Bitter Pill

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers Spotlight #36 Review by (October 12, 2022)

Review: A bitter pill indeed. Hawkeye gives up. The very dark and gritty story arc comes to a close with a darker and grittier denouement—that the mad vigilante the Terminizer is a little boy. And Lotus Newmark’s backstory is a bit potent for the era. But the motivating force in the story is Hawkeye’s burning anger seen at its best effect in the fiery opening. Unfortunately, it goes on too long and has a reprise at the climax as the hero battles Prince Charming and it tends to slide into parody. Writer Steve Gerber must have had a passionate hatred of gangs and gang violence for him to have written this story. And there is no real resolution. Hawkeye gives up with the death of the last Stone Perf, abandoning his quest for their killer, and his discovery that even the good kid is corrupted by the culture of violence. The oddest part is the lengthy origin tale for Lotus Newmark, odd for the final part of a story arc in an anthology title; she would resurface a year later in WONDER MAN with a different writer. Wonder what Steve Gerber was planning that never came to fruition?

Comments: Part six of six parts, concluding the story arc that ran from issues #30-34. The title comes from the phrase “a bitter pill to swallow” indicting a harsh truth one must accept. Lotus next appears in WONDER MAN (1991) starting in issue #4. There is a different account of the fate of Li Fong in MARVELS (2021) #6. Revelation: Lady Lotus was a fan of Wonder Woman comics as a kid. 


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers Spotlight #36 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

For a month Hawkeye has been trying to track down who ordered the mass murder of the Stone Perfs gang (issue #34). As we open, Hawkeye has caught several members of the rival Mode Blanks torching the Perfs’ vacant clubhouse. As the place burns he beats up all the Blanks, while delivering a lecture on the hard life of a gang members. He bullies the last conscious guy into helping him drag the unconscious ones to safety….

Lotus Newmark takes her new lackey Prince Charming, the last surviving member of the Stone Perfs, to her luxurious mansion in the suburbs. In her office, he spots two severed fingers in a glass case so Lotus tells him her life story….

Her father ran a sweatshop in Hong Kong, doing business in Los Angeles; then her mother was struck and killed by a car and Dad began to go downhill, gambling every night and racking up huge debts to the mob. One night a band of mob big shots led by Li Fong came to collect; they offered him a choice between having two of his fingers cut off or his daughter taken by the mob. Cowardly Dad chose the latter. Lotus was educated, trained in martial arts, and prepared to be a gangster while also becoming Li Fong’s mistress. When she reached her full maturity, Li Fong gave Lotus her freedom—and she chose to take revenge against her father, taking his two fingers and then killing him. And now she’s a big shot gangster in America….

The following day, Clint and Bobbi, in their civilian clothes, take the Gutierrez family out to a café al fresco to celebrate Luis’ birthday. And then the boy recognizes Prince walking down the street and points him out to Clint as a Stone Perf. Clint seizes Prince, questioning him about the massacre of the Perfs. Prince draws a gun and starts shooting and Luis’ sister Anita is killed. Prince is about to shoot Clint when the police arrive so the baddie hijacks Clint’s Sky-Cycle and takes off. Prince heads to Lotus’ mansion but she is angry at his acting like an idiot and probably drawing the Avengers’ attention to her; she orders him out of her life for good….

U.S. Agent delivers Clint his bow and arrows and another Sky-Cycle and the hero tracks down and overtakes Prince. There is a fight on a rooftop with Clint growing increasingly angry but Prince gets the drop on him, intending to kill him. Suddenly, the Terminizer guns the baddie down, revealing himself to be a little boy with a cloth hiding his face. Clint knows it’s Luis but doesn’t want him to unmask, preferring to keep his illusions….

That night, Hawkeye tells Mockingbird and U.S. Agent that he saw the Terminizer and chose to let him get away. Agent knows he must have had a reason and Mockingbird hopes he will tell her someday but Hawkeye says it won’t be for another ten years and even then depending on whether the Terminizer is still alive….

Al Milgrom
Don Heck
Joe Rosas
Steve Lightle (Cover Penciler)
Steve Lightle (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Rick Parker.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Clint Barton)
U.S. Agent
U.S. Agent

(John Walker)

Plus: Lady Lotus (Lotus Newmark).

> Avengers Spotlight: Book info and issue index

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