Clint Barton and his brother Bernard ran away from home at a young age and joined a circus. While there, Clint trained with a bow and arrow under the tutelage of Trickshot, the carnival marksman. During this time, Bernard left Clint behind and ended up becoming an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Taking the stage name Hawkeye, Clint stayed with the carnival until it shut down during the initial stages of the Mutant-Human Wars.

With no place else to turn, Clint searched for his brother. When he discovered Bernard had been killed during a mutant battle, Clint became enraged. He decided to stand up to his mutant oppressors. His travels took him to New York City, where he was recruited by Luke Cage as a part of his underworld organization.

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