Gunhawk (II)

First Appearance: Western Gunfighters v2 #1 (August 1970).
Appearances: Western Gunfighters v2 #1, 5-7, Blaze of Glory #1-4.
Years Active: 1870s?-1885.

Gunhawk (II) is a nameless gunfighter and bounty hunter who wanders the American West, dressed all in black and hunting down outlaws for money. He's very skilled with his Winchester, a very skilled horseman (his horse is named Black), and is cold in personality, but not merciless; he's willing to threaten a preacher with his guns in order to get the preacher's garb, but only so that he can help determine the truth of an outlaw's past. In that story, when the Gunhawk (II) discovered that the outlaw was guilty, but under very justified circumstances, the Gunhawk turned the outlaw in, then freed him just as he was about to be hanged, and then turned the reward money over to the outlaw, so that he could start a new life.

Originally the Gunhawk (II) had been orphaned as a boy, his father being killed, and had been raised by a Sheriff named either "Matt Hank" or "Hank Matt." Unfortunately, something happened to estrange them, something never revealed, so that when Sheriff Matt/Hank was killed it had been a decade or more since he'd spoken to his adopted son. The Gunhawk (II) was stricken with remorse by his foster father's death and decided that he was "doomed to stay on the run for the rest of my life, trying to escape a past I don't even understand."

 In Blaze of Glory, set in 1885, the Gunhawk (II) calls himself "Lee Barnett" and is hunting Kid Colt, not just for the bounty but because Colt had shot a sheriff who was a friend of the Gunhawk (II)'s. At the end of the miniseries Gunhawk (II) shoots Colt in the back, killing him. An outraged Caleb Hammer retaliates by gunning the Gunhawk (II) down.

The most notable thing about the Gunhawk (II), besides this really lovely image I've captured from Blaze of Glory, is the hilts of his gun, which in his early appearances were carved into the shape of hawk's heads and in the Blaze of Glory had hawk's heads inscribed on them. Gunhawk (II) was not originally a cross-shooter, but by the time of Blaze of Glory he had developed the habit.

Note: As occasionally happens with various Marvel characters (Golden Girl (I) and (II), Human Top (I) and (II)), there are two distinctive characters both called "the Gunhawk." Originally I thought that they both might be the same, especially because this Gunhawk, the one who first appeared in Western Gunfighters, was very much a cipher. But after having actually read stories featuring the Gunhawks, and more importantly having read Blaze of Glory, I realized that the two are separate characters. So I'm calling Red Larabee Gunhawk (I), since he was the first Gunhawk, and I'm calling Lee Barnett Gunhawk (II).

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