With his return in Chaos War: Dead Avengers, the Swordsman has reappeared in the Marvel Universe after thirty-five years. His death was the first true Avenger fatality and one that had, until now, stuck. The French Fencer debuted in Avengers #19 (Au'65) as an international criminal who wanted to join the team, thinking it would make him immune to arrest. To his surprise, he was rejected. Later we learn that he had helped train a young Clint Barton in the archery skills that would make him Hawkeye. The next issue, he was sent by the Mandarin to infiltrate and destroy the Avengers, now equipped with a special sword that shot out flames, electricity, power beams, knockout gas, etc. But he couldn't go through with it, showing a glimpse of the man who wanted to redeem himself.
He escapes, battling the Avengers and Captain America numerous times, solo and with other villains like the Black Widow, the Mandarin and the Grim Reaper. Most often, he was partnered with the original Power Man, now Atlas of the Thunderbolts. In Avengers #100 (Ju'72), he fought along side the team against Ares, God of War, and, ironically, future Avenger and the Enchantress. He wasn't invited but as was said time and time, "Once an Avenger, always an Avenger" even if it was under false pretenses.
That adventure sparked something in the Bladed Battler. In #114 (Au'73), he petitioned to rejoin the Avengers officially, having sworn off crime. Along side him was his love, the enigmatic Mantis, who deserves a thread of her own. That issue written by Steve Englehart, who had Hawkeye leave brought in these two whose stories he could completely control. Captain America was aghast but the others voted to give him a chance and he delivered, capturing the Lion-God.
The Swordsman was there for the Avengers/Defenders War, the attack of Zodiac (a future topic), the Thanos War, the wedding of Quicksilver and Crystal and, of course, the Celestial Madonna saga in which he was killed protecting Mantis from Englehart's main adversary, Kang the Conqueror. He was injured, suffered through infection, tortured trying to avenge the tragedy of Mantis' parents, was broken in front of her, made to feel weak, and was crushed when Mantis spurned him for the Vision, at least from her perspective. As a result, he was portrayed as whiny, dependent and emotionally unstable. In a team with Thor, Iron Man, Captain America and the Vision, it was easy to discount the Swordsman as an unneeded part of the team with an archaic weapon and a liabilty in battle.
But I'm glad that he's finally getting a second chance. True he'll never be a powerhouse but as The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe states, the Swordsman was "a master of the uses of bladed weapons, most notably all forms of the sword, and was possibly unequalled in this area of accomplishment during his lifetime." Not a man you want to go against in a fight!
On a personal note, I had a list of super-heroes that I "created" in grade school that included the Blademaster and his Asian martial artist partner, Dragonfire. So, at least in me, he had an impact that has lasted!
I must say that I loved the Swordsman, from his initial 'really evil' appearance in those early 'Cap's Kooky Quartet' Avengers - when he threw Cap of the building(!) ( Still one of the most dramatic covers ever!) - to his incredibly dramatic death scene, (beautiful art!).
I had high hopes for his return in 'Dead Avengers'.
How naive of me!
Sounds like I don't want to know what they did to the poor guy this time.
I haven't read most of the issues from his period on the team. I think he could've been fun as a swashbuckling, swaggering hero, and with the gimmicks in his sword, not out of place.