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Swordsman

Real Name: Jacques Duquesne
Occupation: Circus performer, professional criminal, mercenary, adventurer
Identity: Known to legal authorities throughout the world
Legal Status: Citizen of the United States with a worldwide criminal record, given a special pardon in the United States for his services to the Avengers
Other Aliases: None known
Place of Birth: Unrevealed
Place of Death: Kang's headquarters in an unknown location
Marital Status: Unrevealed, presumed single
Known Relatives: None
Group Affiliation: Avengers; formerly an ally of the Mandarin, the Black Widow, Power Man I, the Red Skull, Batroc, and Egghead, Lethal Legion I,Legion of the Unliving V,Emissaries of Evil II
Base of Operations: Mobile, later Avengers Mansion
First Appearance: AVENGERS #19
Final Appearance: GIANT-SIZE AVENGERS #2

History: Originally the Swordsman was a star performer at various circuses and carnivals, where he did an act demonstrating his extraordinary mastery of knives, swords, and other bladed weapons. At one carnival he met a boy named Clint Barton in whom he saw great talent in archery. The Swordsman trained the boy, who idolized him, to be a secondary performer in his act. (The Swordsman trained Barton in the use of bladed weapons; another performer, Trick Shot, taught Barton archery.) Eventually, the Swordsman came under pressure to repay a large gambling debt. One day the carnival paymaster was robbed, and Barton found the Swordsman in possession of the money. Barton fled in panic onto the high wire, which the Swordsman then slashed by hurling a sword. Barton fell to the ground and the Swordsman left him for dead. But Barton was still alive, and grew up to become the costumed adventurer Hawkeye.

Over the years following his attempted murder of Barton, the Swordsman, in his costumed identity, led a notorious criminal career in Europe, during which he was deported from a dozen nations. Returning to the United States, he offered his services to the Avengers, intending to use his Avengers status to commit even greater crimes. However, the Avengers turned him down. Subsequently he entrapped and unsuccessfully tried to kill Captain America, then the leader of the Avengers. As Captain America and the Avengers surrounded the Swordsman, the Swordsman was teleported away by the Mandarin to the latter's castle in China. The Mandarin intended to use the Swordsman as his double agent inside the Avengers in order to destroy the Mandarin's archenemy, the original Iron Man, from within the organization. To this end, the Mandarin used his technology to convince the Avengers that Iron Man had sent them a message recommending the Swordsman for membership. The Mandarin then teleported the Swordsman back to New York City where the Avengers, suspecting a trap but deciding to play along for now, accepted him as a member. The Swordsman came to admire the Avengers and also to admire the beauty of the Scarlet Witch, one of their members. One night the Mandarin ordered the Swordsman to set off a bomb, which the Swordsman had hidden in one of the Avengers' control panels. The Mandarin wanted the bomb to kill the Avengers so that the absent Iron Man would arrive to investigate and fall into a trap that the Mandarin would set. The Swordsman, however, did not want the Scarlet Witch harmed and did not believe in killing the Avengers without a fair fight. Therefore, he went to disconnect the bomb, but Captain America and Hawkeye saw him and thought he was planting the bomb instead. A fight ensued between the Swordsman and the Avengers, ending with the Swordsman's escape, but not without regrets on his part that his career with the Avengers had come to an end.

The Swordsman got over these regrets, however, and returned to crime. The Black Widow, who had recently been brainwashed by Communist Chinese intelligence into doing its will, enlisted the Swordsman in an unsuccessful assault on the Avengers. She teamed him with his frequent partner in crime, the original Power Man (now known as Atlas) on this venture and the Swordsman and Power Man team were later recruited by the Red Skull to battle Captain America. The Swordsman and Power Man later went to work for the Mandarin, and then for Batroc, and later the Swordsman performed an assignment for Egghead. Still later, the Swordsman and Power Man attacked the Avengers as members of the Grim Reaper's Lethal Legion. Each of these liaisons ended in the Swordsman's defeat, and he turned back to crimes in areas where he was unlikely to encounter Captain America or the Avengers. He traveled the world committing crimes, but part of him longed for the sense of noble purpose he briefly and partly felt when he was himself a member of the Avengers. Indeed, at one point this longing was so strong that he accompanied the Avengers in their battle to free the realm of the Olympian gods from conquest by Ares and the Enchantress.

Afterwards, the Swordsman returned to crime, but his heart was no longer in it. He was hunted by legal authorities in most of the countries of the world, he was unable to find employment with major criminal organizations due to his long record of defeats, and he was increasingly aware of and pained by the fact that he had no friends. Worst of all, he had no respect for himself or his life. He ended up in the employ of Monsieur Khrull, the head of a criminal organization in Indochina, performing the same work for him that an ordinary hired gunman might do. In despair and self-contempt, the Swordsman turned to drink and became an alcoholic.

It was then that he met Mantis, whom circumstances had forced into working for Khrull as a bargirl. She sensed the potential for nobility in the Swordsman, and encouraged him to begin a new life. However, the Swordsman did not take her advice until he was seriously wounded on a mission for Khrull. Mantis found him and nursed him back to health, thereby saving his life. He and Mantis then went to New York City, where he told the Avengers what had happened to him, told them of his sincere intention to reform, and asked for a second chance as a member of the Avengers. The Avengers gave him that chance, and, although they were wary of him at first, they soon realized that he was indeed both sincere and valuable to the team, and they granted him full membership.

Although the Swordsman did render important service to the Avengers in their subsequent missions, he was wracked with self-doubt and insecurity, especially after his failures, such as when he was captured by Khrull on one mission and gave him information after being tortured. Moreover, although the Swordsman was deeply in love with Mantis, she disdained him because of the real or imagined inadequacies she perceived in him. Finally, Kang the Conqueror battled the Avengers in the course of his quest to find and mate with the Celestial Madonna, who was to become the mother of a highly powerful being. Kang, was thwarted in this quest by both the Avengers and his own self from an alternate future, Pharaoh Rama-Tut, but Kang discovered that Mantis was the Celestial Madonna. Determined that if he could not have the Celestial Madonna, then no one would, Kang aimed his ray gun at Mantis. In that instant the Swordsman rushed forward to protect the woman he loved. Rama-Tut hurled himself at Kang, but was too late: Kang fired an energy bolt, which because of Rama-Tut's interference, accidentally hit not Mantis but the Swordsman's sword. The energy traveled up the sword into the Swordsman's body, and the Swordsman died, moments later, in the arms of Mantis, who finally had realized that she loved him deeply.

The Avengers buried the Swordsman in the garden of the Priests of Pama, where Mantis had grown up. Unknown to them, the large tree and many other plants in the garden were actually Cotati, members of a race of sentient life with great psionic powers. It was the "tree," which was actually the eldest and most highly developed Cotati on Earth that was to mate with the Celestial Madonna. In order to do so, the eldest Cotati resurrected the body of the Swordsman, from which the consciousness of the Swordsman himself had departed, and projected at least a portion of its own consciousness into it. The Swordsman's body was now animate and glowed green. On a subsequent journey to Indochina, Mantis encountered the eldest Cotati within the Swordsman's body, who explained what had happened. Mantis and the eldest Cotati were married by Immortus. She and the Swordsman's body (animated by the eldest Cotati) then transformed themselves into energy and left Earth.

Height: 6 ft. 4 in.
Weight: 250 lbs.
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Black

Strength Level: The Swordsman possessed the normal human strength of a man of his age, height, and build who engaged in intensive regular exercise.

Known Superhuman Powers: None

Other Abilities: The Swordsman was a superb athlete with great ability in unarmed combat. He was a master of the uses of bladed weapons, most notably all forms of swords, and was possibly unequaled in this area of accomplishment during his lifetime.

Weapons: The Mandarin equipped the Swordsman's principal swords with special devices adapted from Makluan technology. By pressing one of the buttons that the Mandarin installed on the sword's hilt, the Swordsman could project an energy beam with great concussive force, a disintegrating ray, a large jet of flame, electrical energy in a form resembling lightning, or a stream of gas that would render an opponent temporarily unconscious.

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