An old problem re-emerges for Clint Barton in Old Man Hawkeye #1, which sets him on a path which may end in blindness, or even death.
Old Man Hawkeye #1
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: January 10, 2018
Collected in: Old Man Hawkeye v1
The super heroes have fallen. The country has been divided into territories controlled by super villains. Among the wastelands lives CLINT BARTON – one of the few Avengers to survive. But it’s been 45 years, and he’s no Avenger. Trying to eke out a living anyway he can, the former HAWKEYE is confronted with a startling discovery: the sharpshooter is going blind. With time running short, Clint realizes there’s one last thing he wants to see: revenge for his fallen comrades-in-arms.
Rising-star writer ETHAN SACKS and superstar artist MARCO CHECCHETTO take you back to the Wastelands in a story set five years before the original classic OLD MAN LOGAN.
In 2014 Marvel decided that it was time to give one of their major stars a bit of a rest, and they killed off Wolverine. Marvel wanted the big headlines, but they still wanted to be able to use one of their most famous characters in one of their most famous brands. Their solution was to bring in an alternate future version of their hero from the 2008 storyline “Old Man Logan” to fill in Wolverine’s normal role. The idea had merit since the story was generally well received, and this version of the character was just close enough to the original to keep fans drawn in, while being different enough to justify saying he was not the real Wolverine.
Old Man Logan quickly filled in all the old Wolverine roles — even though they did not precisely fit — and grew in popularity. Then in 2017 the hit move Logan entered theaters and drew both commercial and critical acclaim. The version of Logan on the big screen fit in perfectly with the grizzled Old Man Logan currently running around in comics, so it worked out perfectly. The “Old Man” franchise has managed to pickup traction in more ways than one.
All of this is just build up to introduce Old Man Hawkeye, one of the few surviving heroes in the alternate future, and Old Man Logan’s oldest friend. Old Man Hawkeye has not made the jump to the modern Marvel the way his friend has, but he gets referenced enough in flashbacks to be recognizable. He also works well in the same story style that made Old Man Logan popular: he is gritty and down to Earth, and in an apocalyptic future he is allowed to be a lethal hero. So, Marvel has decided to give him a shot at his own twelve-issue mini-series starting with Old Man Hawkeye #1.
Alternate reality versions of heroes we know and love can be a tricky proposition. On one hand we get to see our heroes in a way that we could not in normal continuity, which is great, but on the other they cannot veer too far from the core hero or we lose the emotional connection. The “Old Man” franchise thus has an advantage over some other alternate reality stories in that all it really has to do is take the heroes we love as is, and make them bitter and old. This will not work with all heroes — most, in fact — but Hawkeye is a prime candidate.
To be honest, even with that I was going to pass Old Man Hawkeye #1 by since I never really connected with Old Man Logan as a character, and always viewed him as a placeholder for the real Wolverine’s return. I have come around a bit on the character in his own solo series (the current arc with Silver Samurai is quite good), and once I saw artist Marco Checchetto’s name attached I knew I would at least browse it at the comic shop. I will come back to the art later on, but suffice to say the brief glance I took at the comic shop was enough to make me pull out my wallet for this issue and give it a shot.
My initial fear for this series was that it was really just going to be a way to piggyback Old Man Logan into a second monthly title, but fortunately that was squashed down. While Logan does briefly appear in this issue, it is to tell Hawkeye that he cannot help even though he would like to. Excellent, I bought this to read about Hawkeye, and that is indeed what I got. With my main fear squashed I was able to enjoy the issue for what it was, not for what it could have been.
The central plot of this issue is that Hawkeye is starting to go blind in his old age, and in this dystopian future that could spell doom for him and everyone he protects. To be honest, this is a great way to start this story off since it pays off an already established subplot from a few years ago, and gives us a reason to care about Hawkeye which is not just about which villain he will be fighting. The first half of that comes from the Hawkeye: Blindspot mini-series in 2011, and if you have forgotten about it or never heard of it then you are likely not alone. It did not precisely set sales charts on fire, and faded to obscurity relatively quickly, which is too bad since it was actually decent. It was quickly overshadowed by the Matt Fraction and David Aja run on a later Hawkeye ongoing series (which you really should read), which amusingly also introduced the idea of Hawkeye going deaf. Poor guy is getting it from both ends.
With Hawkeye’s discovery of his returning blindness he has decided to make things right with friends and family. The problem is none of them seem to want to make things right on their end. His daughter hates him and he ex-wife is pressing him for alimony (though she seems to be doing better financially than he is). Old Man Logan, as noted above, is not in a position to help and they do not leave each other on particularly good terms. That is where we leave Clint this issue, and it is admittedly a thoroughly depressing ending to the issue for him.
Now this would not be a superhero comic if we did not have a villain, and as interesting as the blindness story might be it cannot be solved in traditional superhero fashion, so we get something else instead. In fact, we get three somethings. First up is Jamie Madrox, the Multiple Man. He is, and continues to be, one of those heroes who gets abused by just about every writer who gets their hands on him, with the exception of Peter David. In this case he has formed his own gang out in the desert and robs people, except Hawkeye does not take kindly to being robbed. One of the Madrox duplicates gets away and eventually finds his way to a watering hole where he encounters villain number two: the Venom symbiote (or some variation of it). We do not have any details on how that will turn out just yet, but the idea of a Venom who can multiply himself is genuinely terrifying, and he could make a good villain for this series. The third villain here is Bullseye, who has been a Hawkeye antagonist for a while now, so that makes sense. He only appears at the end so we will have to wait to see what his plans are.
Thoughts on the Art
As I mentioned above it was the inclusion of Marco Checchetto on art duties that drew my eye in the first place. He, along with his usual coloring partner, Andres Mossa, has been an artist I have been following since his work on Star Wars: Shattered Empire a few years back. The two make an excellent team with an eye for action, and the opening fight with Jamie Madrox is simply excellent. They are able to draw an emotional segment, too, and the scenes with Hawkeye and his daughter are just as charged as the earlier fight scene.
Despite the fact that most of this story takes place in a post-apocalyptic desert hellscape this is quite a colorful comic. Andres Mossa is not afraid to spruce things up and keep things visually entertaining even amongst the bleakness. This can give his panels a semi-neon look to them, which is not always appropriate for the subject matter, but it is not as distracting as you would expect. All told, this is a good looking book being produced by two artists at the top of their game.
I was ready to pass by this book, but I am glad that I did not. This book so far does not go for the gritty depression of Old Man Logan, and instead focuses on a human story. That is not to say it is does not have depressing elements in its own right, they are just setup differently. The double-cliffhanger ending with our group of villains is an excellent hook for this first issue, and insures I will definitely pick up issue two next month. It certainly helps that it being an alternate reality book means that it is outside of most of the superhero genre conventions, and that almost anything can happen. All told this is a well-told story with excellent art that leaves you wanting more.