Believe it or not, Norman Osborn's usurping of the Avenger's mantle post-Skrull Secret Invasion was not the first conflict between Clint Barton and the former Green Goblin. While the Green Goblin was long thought dead (ie, during his European Exile), Barton and his Avenger teammates fought the Legion of the Unliving, which contained the Green Goblin amongst its collection. For a recap of that event, see HERE.
Their mutual hatred for each other hit new heights however after Norman was spotted at Janet van Dyne's funeral during the aftermath of the Skrull invasion. Barton, who felt that Osborn had no business being in attendance, shared some choice words for the new Avengers leader. But Norman quickly deflected Barton's scorn and let the hot-tempered Barton embarrass himself in front of his fellow Avengers. It was clear from that point on that there was going to be no love lost between these two sparring partners.
Clint was obviously very offended by Norman's rise to power, even moreso than Spider-Man. Spidey had become accustomed to this status quo since Norman had been legitimized a handful of times in the past. During those stints Peter had no choice but to deal with the unfortunate reality that Osborn was good at deceiving people. Barton's knee-jerk reaction to Osborn's feigned compassion was to announce to the world publicly that Norman was the villainous Green Goblin. Clint's realization and announcement is summarized here. Of course Norman was able to answer this critique with a little PR move of his own, frustrating Barton at the public's apparent ignorance of Norman's past. The back and forth between Barton and Osborn even caused the former Avenger Wonder Man (aka Simon Williams) to speak up on the topic as well in New Avengers #51. He claimed that Norman being in charge was really just an illusion of change and that, as far as he was concerned, having someone like Osborn in charge is what the country deserves. He was being facetious of course, implying that a murderer in charge is what the country deserves, Osborn was not happy about this announcement either. But he found his way to deal with Wonder Man (summarized here).
Barton continued to use the media to poke holes in Osborn's reputation in New Avengers #54. After he and his fellow Avengers helped Dr. Strange battle The Hood in New Orleans, Barton addressed the news cameras that were present and once again attacked Osborn. He stated that The Hood was working with Osborn and that these criminals (the ones they just fought) would most likely walk free because of it. Osborn was faced with more PR damage control.
After periodic bickering with Spider-Man over how to handle Osborn (Barton wanted him dead and Spidey suggested they take the high rode), Barton decided to take matters into his own hands in the one-shot Dark Reign The List: The Avengers. B
ack at the New Avengers hideout, Clint Barton watched the news and learned of the X-Men's retreat to their Utopia. The media, clearly controlled by Osborn, reported that this 'Utopia' is actually a mutant prison camp and the X-Men (and all the other inhabitants of that island) are viewed as a threat to the American way of life. This tips Barton over the edge, and he decides that it is time to kill Norman Osborn. Spider-Man steps up as a cool, calm voice of reason toward Barton (albeit after getting in a few jokes first), warning him that killing Osborn is not the answer. Barton's rationale is that killing is not always wrong and he claims, "if you could go back in time and kill Hitler, wouldn't you?" Eventually the rest of the New Avengers side with Spider-Man as they all realize that killing Osborn isn't a full plan because what they'd do after that is still uncertain. Barton realizes that he is on his own for this task and he storms out of the room, Mockingbird soon follows him out. With the Brooklyn Bridge (how appropriate!) and the Dark Avengers Tower in sight, Mockingbird tells Clint she'll go with him to kill Osborn and they decide they'll do so in the morning. But Barton is restless, and he leaves for the Avengers tower on his own in the middle of the night.
Barton, now fully garbed as Ronin, stakes out Avengers Tower and waits for the appropriate time to strike, ie. when the Sentry leaves the premises. Barton then scales the walls of the building, breaks in and makes quick work of some of the Dark Avengers. He tosses Mac Gargan out though a window, fills Bullseye with bullet holes, and shoots an arrow through Daken's head. The security alarms are now going off and Osborn is alerted to the intruder, he immediately orders the residential floors to be locked down. Amid the melee, Karla Sofen (formerly Moonstone, now the Avenger Ms. Marvel) confronts Barton and he tells her his plan to kill Osborn (remember the two shared a brief love-connection way back in Thunderbolts #30). Sofen is tempted by his plan but soon realizes that the security cameras are recording everything and that she must display her loyalty to Osborn. She unleashes energy projections toward Ronin, but luckily for him the security lockdown that Osborn ordered created a force field around Sofen, sealing her off from Ronin.
Barton eventually reaches Osborn and he's even able to get the drop on him. With the vulnerable Osborn in sight, Barton fires a shotgun blast at Norman, but to no avail. Apparently, Norman's new position has given him access to all kinds of toys, including Nick Fury's personal force shield.
With Osborn unscathed, Barton resorts to the old fashioned way of fighting, fisticuffs. But this attempt is thwarted by Ares, who quickly tosses Barton aside. Ares then readies his axe to cut off Barton's hands, but Osborn tells him not to do that because Barton's hands will be an excellent bargaining chip. The story ends with Barton being placed under arrest by Norman Osborn.
Barton's fellow Avengers, which included his love interest Mockingbird, did not wait long to rescue their fallen comrade. The rescue of Clint Barton is detailed in the New Avengers Annual #3, which began with Clint Barton slowly regaining consciousness while restrained in one of H.A.M.M.E.R.'s detention cells. What's the first thing Barton sees when he awakes? How about the entire roster of the Dark Avengers. Norman wastes no time to begin his interrogation of Barton, he wants to know the location of the New Avenger's hideout. But Barton does not willingly give up that information despite being in the presence of numerous villains chomping at the bit to get a piece of him (since Venom is in that room I'll say both puns intended).
This brings us over to the aforementioned Avengers hideout, where Mockingbird (aka Barbara 'Bobbi' Morse) is just waking up from a good night's sleep. Unfortunately for her, she finds the note left behind by Barton in which he says that he went alone to kill Osborn and that she should notfollow him. Mockingbird then sees that all of Ronin's weaponry is gone and after she runs out on to the rooftop she falls to her knees, sobbing at the thought of losing Clint again. Ms. Marvel (the realMs. Marvel, Carol Danvers) and Spider-Woman (aka Jessica Drew) find Mockingbird on the rooftop and she tells them what Clint has done. Ms. Marvel immediately takes off toward Avengers Tower and finds the H.A.M.M.E.R. Helicarrier as well as a swarm of agents circling the building, an intimidating view.
Back over to the H.A.M.M.E.R. Helicarrier, where the interrogation of Clint Barton continues.
After Clint refuses to give up any information, Norman tells Venom to have 'just a nibble' (see, chomping at the bit was the appropriate pun!). Venom takes a bite out of Clint's right shoulder, but Clint fights back and he headbutts Venom and they both fall to the ground. Barton (with hands restrained mind you) even gets a shot in on Hawkeye (err...Bullseye) before the Sentry finally steps in and knocks Barton out with one punch.
Returning to the Avengers hideout, Bobbi is now fully garbed as Mockingbird and has resolved to go after Clint despite Spider-Woman's advice against it. Mockingbird is looking for help from Captain America or Spider-Man, but neither are around, an unfortunate aspect of the New Avengers open door policy. Ms. Marvel returns, confirming that Clint is being held on the Helicarrier and that attacking that ship is an impossibility with only the three of them. Enter Jessica Jones. After the group apprises Jessica of the situation, she immediately gets a baby-sitter for her child and offers her services to the trio. Ms. Marvel warns that Clint is probably already dead, but Spider-Woman thinks differently and the quartet devises a plan.
Norman has had enough of trying to strong arm the information from Barton, so he employs the villain Mentallo (aka Marvin Flumm) to extract the information directly from the prisoner's brain. Mentallo is successful and soon Norman and his team are in flight toward the Avenger's secret hideout. After Norman commands the Sentry to rip the side of the building off, the Dark Avengers soon realize the hideout has been recently abandoned. The Iron Patriot and his team had been duped, because the quartet of ladies were now kicking ass on the Helicarrier in search of Clint Barton. They eventually reach Clint just in time to stop Mentallo from finding out the civilian ID's of the New Avengers team. Norman and his team (especially Norman) collectively swallow their pride as the concede defeat.
Some time later, after the Dark Avengers had left the former hideout of the New Avengers, Spider-Man arrives unaware that the group had abandoned it. H.A.M.M.E.R. agents immediately engage Spidey, but he's able to escape and make it safely back to the group's 'Plan B' hideout. Barton apologizes to the group for his actions and then, to the entire group's surprise, they are greeted by none other than the original Captain America, Mr. Steve Rogers. The story concludes with this quote from Steve, "...the world has gone to hell. But thank God the Avengers are here to do something about it. And we are. You ready?"
Barton and Osborn would not face each other again until Norman's siege on Asgard. The long-time Avenger proved to a be a constant thorn in Osborn's side throughout his stint at the top of the law, despite that he could not quite rile up the hate in Norman the way Spider-Man was able to do.
It should also be noted that during Osborn's second attempt at creating a faux-Avengers team (ie, during the Super Adaptoid debacle), Spider-Woman makes the comment that Clint Barton hated Osborn even more than Spider-Man! Personally, I don't see how that could be possible, but it is worth mentioning in this section. Perhaps even more interesting is the fact Clint actually defended some of Osborn's claims...what a difference a few months can make.
Barton and Osborn square off at Janet van Dyne's funeral, as seen in Mighty Avengers #20
Barton makes a second public announcement against Osborn, claiming that he'll free these recently detained criminals, as seen in New Avengers #54
New Avengers #54
New Avengers #55
Barton fails to kill Norman, and finds himself a prisoner, as seen in Dark Reign The List: The Avengers
New Avengers Annual #3
Norman and his team regroup after destroying the abandoned former hideout of Barton's Avengers team, meanwhile Barton was rescued from Norman's facilities by a triad of ladies, as seen in New Avengers Annual #3
Long-time Osborn-hater Clint Barton seemingly defends Osborn's stance against the Avengers, as seen in The Avengers (V4) #20