The Swordsman is one of those characters that got botched somewhere between the Silver and Bronze Ages of Marvel Comics. Growing up as a privileged French youth in Sin Cong (Marvel’s initial stand-in for Vietnam), Jacques discovered that he wanted a life of adventure. This came into play as the Sin Cong murdered his father and forced him to flee for his life. Jacques became the swashbuckling Swordsman as a means to redeem himself following his father’s death. But, all it did was lead him to a string of women and an eventual carnival job in America.
At the Carson Carnival, Swordsman met teenage Clint Barton and began training him in various weapons while trying to become something of a mentor. But, Jacques grew bored again and needed money. When the Swordsman robbed the Carnival, Hawkeye tried to stop him. As such, Swordsman beat the teenager half to death and left with the stolen funds. Hawkeye would spend the next several years looking to bring him to justice. This all boils to a head when the Swordsman wants to join the Avengers shortly after Hawkeye goes public as a member.
Hawkeye protests against admitting the Swordsman, which only causes the swashbuckler to lash out against Captain America. Everybody fights, as it is revealed that the Swordsman is working with the Mandarin. The Swordsman flees, but returns several times to fight the Avengers. Years will pass and the Swordsman finally accepts a real offer to join the Avengers when the team meets Mantis. She’s a martial artist from the fictional Marvel Asian territories that might be the Celestial Madonna.
Kang realizes that Mantis could give birth to the future Supreme Being of the Marvel Universe, so he tries to kidnap her. The Swordsman having fallen in love with her, fights Kang with the Avengers. However, the team has become vastly powered and the Swordsman is frequently the first to fall to these overpowered goons. The Swordsman makes peace with Hawkeye and tries to find a way to upset Kang’s plans. The effort works, but Kang kills the Swordsman for destroying his efforts. Now, stay with me.
Since Mantis was the actual Celestial Madonna, she had chosen Swordsman as her suitor. To make sure that the great cosmic aspirations went down, an alien member of the plant species Cotati chose to inhabit Swordsman’s corpse so that they could marry and Mantis would become pregnant. The Avengers were intrigued by this weirdness as much as I would be and helped to make it happen. Now, Mantis was pregnant with Zombie Swordsman’s alien plant Jesus baby and they left for the stars.
This zombie alien plant Swordsman wouldn’t last, as the guy crumbled to dust near the late 1980s. The baby would never be heard from again, as later Marvel editorial couldn’t wrap their brains around the concept. The Swordsman has later returned as part of the Chaos War storyline where the dead of Marvel was resurrected to fight the living. While most of the dead eventually returned to the ground, the Swordsman was one of a handful left in the land of the living. Marvel has yet to follow this up in nearly four years.
While the Swordsman seems to be getting some flashback play in Lemire’s “All-New Hawkeye”, the character goes ignored. If you have read this brief entry about the character and want more…demand it from Marvel. Also, tell them to let me write it. I want to write the further tales of an Errol Flynn zombie that was used as a meat sex puppet by an alien plant species. These sort of things just write themselves.
Real Name: Jacques Duquesne
First Appearance: Avengers (Vol. 1) #19
Joined the Avengers: Avengers (Vol. 1) #112
The Swordsman trains Hawkeye.
Swordsman and the villain Trickshot train a young Hawkeye in marksmanship at the Carson Carnival of Traveling Wonders.
The Swordsman meets Mantis.
The Swordsman meets Mantis and begins a love affair that lasts until his death…and beyond.
The Swordsman dies.
The Swordsman dies during the Celestial Madonna Saga while fighting Kang. He returns as a plant alien and occasionally resurrected zombie. Classic Marvel is the best.