For the other Swordsmen see: Philip Javert or Andreas Strucker
The first Swordsman was Jacques DuQuesne. Along with Trickshot he helped train the Avenger known as Hawkeye. Swordsman was caught stealing money from the circus where all three men worked as performers. Hawkeye attempted to report Swordsman to the police only for his one-time mentor to beat him half to death. Swordsman left the circus afterwards and began a career as a mercenary which subsequently saw him deported and exiled from several countries where he had committed crimes.
Swordsman was created by Stan Lee and Don Heck in 1965 and first appeared in The Avengers #19.
Swordsman was introduced demanding to join the Avengers and was sharply ejected after being exposed as a traitor. Following his dismissal from Earth's Mightiest, he began working with an assortment of villains in opposing the Avengers such as Egghead, Batroc's Brigade, and the Lethal Legion. He would eventually rejoin the Avengers for the assault on Olympus and later travel around the world as a drunken mercenary until the woman known as Mantis entered his life. She helped Swordsman regain his self-respect and, with her at his side, he once again joined the ranks of the Avengers.
Major Story Arcs
The world-renowned adventurer and mercenary known as Swordsman came to the conclusion that if he was to join the Avengers, then by association he would be free to get away with all sorts of things. Breaking into Avengers Mansion, in a bid to impress the Avengers, Swordsman sought to show off his skills by engaging Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch in battle. After the fight was interrupted and halted by Captain America, Swordsman made his desire to join the team known but was rejected by Captain America who discovered that Swordsman had a dubious and questionable past. Afterwards, Hawkeye informed the Avengers of his own history with Swordsman which only reinforced the team's belief he was nothing more than a petty criminal.
Refusing to give up, the Swordsman tricked Captain America into meeting him in an abandoned warehouse where the two fought. Swordsman gained the upper-hand and upon defeating Captain America, decided to tie him up and use him as a bargaining chip in a further petition to convince the Avengers to induct him. The rest of the Avengers were quick to defeat Swordsman and again refuse to accept him onto the team and free Captain America from his ropes.
Swordsman was then abducted by the Mandarin who wished to ally himself with Swordsman in a scheme to destroy Iron Man and the Avengers once and for all. Initially reluctant, Swordsman was defeated by Mandarin and eventually rescinded and agreed to go along with the villain's plan which involved him spying on the Avengers for him.
The Avengers received a video message from Iron Man in which the original Avenger vouched for Swordsman and convinced the team to welcome Swordsman into their ranks although they remain suspicious of Swordsman. When Swordsman learns of Mandarin's true plan to cowardly blow up the Avengers in their sleep, he attempts to intervene and stop the planned attack but the Avengers misinterpret his actions and believe he is responsible for it. Unbeknownst to them, Swordsman saves their lives and is sharply ejected from the team ironically after finally proving his worth and a legitimate desire to be an Avenger.
This Power Unleashed
After his skirmish with the Avengers, Swordsman resigned from being a costumed adventurer and returned to working as a circus performer which drew large audiences and the admiration of many lovely ladies. After one show, he was approached by the Russian operative Black Widow who wished to ally with him in a plot to destroy the Avengers once and for all. Swordsman, wanting revenge on the team who spurned him and harboring a great attraction to the Widow herself, agreed to join her and her ally Power Man in their bid to destroy Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
After ambushing Hawkeye and asserting his dominance over his former student, Swordsman later attacked Captain America at Avengers Mansion wanting revenge for the latter beating him previously. Captain America was defeated when Power Man arrived and took him by surprise. Swordsman and Power Man likewise made short work of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, easily capturing and subduing them, however they failed to take into account Goliath and Wasp who had recently rejoined the Avengers.
As the two returning Avengers attacked the villains headquarters and freed their companions from captivity, the team battled intensely with Swordsman and Power Man but unbeknownst to them the Black Widow activated a secret escape hatch allowing them time to escape. Hawkeye was prepared to fire an arrow after them before the escape hatch closed but upon noticing the Black Widow, the woman he loved, he failed to follow through and the villains escaped.
Tensions between Swordsman and Power Man began to rose when they realized they both were attracted immensely to the Black Widow. The two villains fought amongst themselves as the Black Widow laughed at and mocked the idea that either of them think they have a chance with her as she secretly loved Hawkeye, one of the men they were meant to be defeating.
Embarrassed about having let the villains escape, Hawkeye insisted his fellow Avengers allow him to tackle the villains again by himself to make up for his failure to fire upon them in their last encounter. Hawkeye found the villains hiding in an abandoned warehouse and attacked them, quickly opting to make the floor beneath Power Man collapse by using an arrow and taking him out of the fray early on. Now alone with his former mentor, Hawkeye battled continuously and finally defeated Swordsman proving once and for all that Swordsman is no longer Hawkeye's superior.
After defeating Swordsman, Power Man was defeated with the aid of Black Widow (who realized she loved Hawkeye) and the two villains were left finished and betrayed by the woman they agreed to help.
Dogs of War
When Ares attacked Olympus in a bid to take control of the realm of the Olympian Gods, the Avengers sent out a call for all their previous members to come to aid them in stopping Ares' plans. To the Avengers' surprise, Swordsman arrived pointing out that he, too, was once an Avenger and he wishes to help. While Captain America and Hawkeye were reluctant to accept Swordsman's aid, Black Panther and Thor instead point out that Swordsman deserves a second chance.
Swordsman fought alongside the Avengers against Ares' Warhawks but following the defeat of Ares, he disappeared - presumably afraid the Avengers may force him to face retribution, face justice and stand trial for his countless past crimes.
For more details: Avengers/Defenders War
Not long after joining the Avengers, Swordsman was fighting alongside the Avengers against the Defenders due to the machinations of Loki and Dormammu. Swordsman battled the Defender Valkyrie and was outclassed and defeated by the Asgardian warrior.
For more details: Thanos War
Swordsman was one of the Avengers who aided in battle against Thanos who had gained the Cosmic Cube and plotted to destroy Earth as a present to his beloved Death. Swordsman's hot temper initially brought him to blows with Drax the Destroyer but the situation was too dire for the two to indulge in petty bickering. Swordsman, alongside some of the other Avengers, fought off Thanos' fleet but were ultimately trapped by Thanos who used the Cosmic Cube to render them helpless to stop him by making them out of sync with the time. Upon Thanos' defeat, Swordsman and his fellow Avengers were freed from their exile from the timestream.
Searching for the "Celestial Madonna" in hopes of marrying her, Kang the Conqueror attacked and kidnapped the Avengers, however left Swordsman behind because he thought of him as having no worth as a hostage and posing no threat to him or his plans. Determined to prove his worth, Swordsman tracked down Kang and the captive Avengers and freed them. Upon discovering that Mantis was the Celestial Madonna, Kang opted to kill her so that nobody else could have her. As Mantis' life was threatened, Swordsman thrust himself forward and sacrificed himself to spare his love. He also marked the first Avenger to die.
After his death, Swordsman was revived by the Cotati and used on behalf of the Prime Cotati to marry Mantis and father a son with her. After a battle with the Avengers a few years later, he crumbled to dust as the Cotati saw no further use for his revival.
Legion of the Unliving
After his death, Swordsman continued to appear most frequently as an adversary to the Avengers in the Legion of the Unliving. Regularly revived and brought into service of villains, his undead self has battled against both Hawkeye and Captain America often citing feelings of being an outsider and never truly counting as an Avenger. Both times the undead Swordsman has been over-powered by his foes.
Swordsman was also briefly reanimated by the Cotati again during The Crossing. He sought to warn the Avengers of a coming evil when he came across his successor Philip Jarvert. The two, as well as the Vision, fought against Kang's henchmen and were defeated. The reanimated Swordsman was captured and taken away by the attackers and brought before Mantis who was revealed to be working with Kang to drive Tony Stark to madness and have him murder his fellow Avengers.
Later on into the storyline, as it entered it's final stages, Stark regained some of his sanity and allied himself with the captive Swordsman. As the Swordsman intervened in a battle between the Avengers and Mantis, he implored them to see Mantis' better nature, how she used to be and how she was not totally beyond redemption. Mantis responded by killing Swordsman for violating and defiling her.
It was later revealed by a dissatisfied writer that most of the characters involved with the Crossing were Space Phantoms in disguise.
For more details: Chaos War
Swordsman was one of the fallen Avengers revived during the Chaos War when the realm of the dead was destroyed by the Chaos King. He along with the other Dead Avengers fought against the Chaos King and his thralls; the revived Grim Reaper and Nekra.
Having returned to life, Swordsman appeared confused about his prior death. He didn't look back on his death at the hands of Kang as the noble sacrifice, but instead in his life after death had grown to believe it was an accident and that Kang's gun had misfired and hit him. As such, Swordsman is under the impression that he died for "nothing".
Throughout the Chaos War, Swordsman sought to find something worth dying for - ultimately finding it in the task of saving civilians from Nekra. Ironically, after the Chaos War had ended, of the revived Avengers, only he and Yellowjacket had survived.
Despite both Swordsman and Yellowjacket being left alive following the event, much like Alpha Flight were who went on to appear in their own ongoing, neither of the two Avengers have been seen since. Editor Tom Brevoort insists they both returned to their death because they "serve no purpose alive" and that readers are "being stupid and misreading into things" by claiming they by rights are still alive.
Powers and Abilities
He was well trained in acrobatics, with uncanny agility and was considered one of the best swordsman the world has ever known. Swordsman's sword was tampered with by the Mandarin using Mukluan Technology. Similar to the Mandarin's power rings, the hilt of Swordsman's sword had various buttons which granted him some degree of elemental control - almost entirely in the form of shooting energy blasts of various types, as well as flames and gas.
In a world where the Fantastic Four are not available to combat the appearance of Galactus on Earth, the task instead falls to the Avengers. When the team are all but defeated by the mighty world devourer, the Swordsman arrives to offer his aid as he was once an Avenger (mirroring a sequence that unfolded in the mainstream reality). Swordsman single-handedly attempts to fight Galactus with just his sword and is immediately struck down by him.
After the Avengers, Fantastic Four and X-Men fought Onslaught, with many of them apparently sacrificing their lives to defeat the villain, Franklin Richards created a pocket universe to house those heroes who were believed to be dead in order protect them from Onslaught. On the "Counter-Earth" that Franklin had created, there was a Swordsman who was a member of that world's Avengers. Little is learnt of the past which Franklin created for Swordsman, but unlike the real Swordsman, the construct created by Franklin wields the Ebony Blade (which is traditionally associated with another Avenger; the Black Knight).
Swordsman accompanied the Avengers on their first mission, on behalf of S.H.I.E.L.D., to investigate the discovery of what appeared to be the Norse God of Thunder Thor encased in amber in the Arctic. Combining the power of his sword, Captain America's shield and Hawkeye's arrows with the Vision's ability to alter density, the team managed to free Thor from his imprisonment. Unfortunately for them, the trickster God Loki convinced Thor the Avengers were his enemy and a battle ensued. The headstrong and defiant Swordsman rushed into battle and was outclassed by Thor.
After the conflict with Thor was resolved, and the God joined the ranks of the Avengers, the team set off to investigate a mysterious unidentified flying object in Central Park. Discovering the craft belonged to the 31st Century time-traveller Kang and his lover Mantis, the Avengers battled the would-be conqueror. Despite being a construct created by Franklin Richards, the appearance of Kang and Mantis led Swordsman to briefly remember the life of the real Swordsman.
During the Industrial Revolution crossover, the Avengers and Fantastic Four were pitted against a rampaging Hulk. Swordsman, ignoring Captain America's orders to retreat, threw himself into combat with the green Goliath and had both his arms broken and was badly injured. He was rushed to a hospital by S.H.I.E.L.D. in critical condition but was able to pull through due to constant visits by Captain America who reassured him that he was truly brave and a hero.
Later, Loki discovered the nature of Counter-Earth and his existence being nothing more than someone else's construct. Loki decided to take over the entire pocket universe and to that end went around absorbing the energy of everyone he could find to increase his own power. When Captain America went to visit Swordsman in hospital, he discovered Swordsman had vanished leaving behind his Ebony Sword. An apparent victim to Loki's quest for more power.
Swordsman later turns up alive, after the heroes have left Counter-Earth and returned to their real world. Disillusioned, he becomes an alcoholic, gains weight and adopts the guise of Deadpool before being abruptly killed.
In the near future, Hawkeye and Swordsman undertook a student named Brandon Cross. Training under them for several years after the terrible conflict that saw most of the Avengers killed and permanently blinded Hawkeye, Cross became Freebooter and a member of A-Next.
Like most of the heroes of the Marvel Zombies reality, Swordsman has succumbed to the virus that has transformed most the population into flesh-hungry zombies. Swordsman is seen attempting to devour Magneto and a small band of survivors he was protecting. Magneto hurls several pieces of debris at Swordsman, impaling him through the chest, but with little effect due to the fact he's already dead.
Swordsman is a member of the Avengers sent to stop a robbery of a local candy store.
In the reality where Wonder Man never perished and remained a member of the Avengers, when Swordsman was ordered by the Mandarin to infiltrate and betray the Avengers, Swordsman refused because Wonder Man was more powerful than he could handle. Mandarin responded by killing Swordsman with his Rings of Power. Due to Swordsman's death, it later comes to pass that Mantis never discovers her destiny as the Celestial Madonna.
The Red Skull assassinated Hitler and won World War II for the Axis powers. He eventually turned his power over to a young Victor Von Doom who used the power of the cosmic cube to enslave and keep any resistance under control in the world. Doom assembled his own police force which were mostly heroes who in this reality were super-powered fascists. Among them was Swordsmaster.
Earth-58163 (House of M)
In the House of M reality, Swordsman is a member of Shang-Chi's Sons of the Dragon gang alongside his lover Mantis. Swordsman is killed in battle against Bullseye who impales him through the heart with a sai.