Back in 2008, Mark Millar and Steve McNiven introduced fans to the world of “Old Man Logan.” This popular arc was set in a dark and violent future in which the world’s heroes had been killed by supervillains. Only two remained; Hawkeye, now blind, and Logan, who had retired from superheroism after being tricked into slaughtering the X-Men. That statement alone should really give you an idea how dark this story was.
To say it was an influential plot would be an understatement; in fact, it was so popular that it loosely inspired James Mangold’s Logan. Recent years have seen Marvel bring the titular character into the mainstream continuity and Old Man Logan is now one of several Wolverines running around; there seems to be one for every X-team.
Old Man Hawkeye is the latest attempt to cash in on the story’s success. It’s essentially a prequel to Millar’s story, and although fairly unnecessary, it’s actually surprisingly good. The tale kicks off in style, with the Madrox Gang attacking a shipment of goods from Justin Hammer. Fortunately, the aged Hammer has hired a guard; Hawkeye. In a tremendously cool action sequence, Hawkeye effortlessly kills the Madroxes.
Writer Ethan Sacks absolutely nails the starring character from the get-go, giving such a strong sense of identity for the careworn archer. As the story progresses, Hawkeye is forced to face a dangerous new reality; he’s losing his vision, and will go blind within months. That knowledge forces Clint to re-evaluate his life.
Sacks’ story may be a prequel, but it’s most definitely a spiritual successor to Millar’s work. It’s chock-full of Easter Eggs, adding more color to Millar’s world and even featuring a brief cameo from Old Man Logan. Perhaps the most interesting part of the plot is that Hawkeye decides to say his goodbyes before he launches his (doomed) crusade. That means we get to see his ex-wife and daughter. This was always one of the strangest plots in Millar’s “Old Man Logan” arc; Old Man Hawkeye’s ex is actually Spider-Man’s daughter and your heart breaks at Clint’s relationship with his daughter, who uses his picture for target practice on the wall.
The issue ends with setup, establishing two new enemies who are on Hawkeye’s trail. Firstly, the surviving member of the Madrox gang gains a power-up; and secondly, a very familiar Marshal realizes that a superhero killed the other Madroxes. Clint has just made some very dangerous enemies.
In terms of art, Marco Checchetto’s work is absolutely stunning. Visually, this is one of the most impressive Marvel books in years. Every panel is lovingly rendered, and splash panels are wonderful. Perhaps the most haunting moment is a flashback to the death of Black Widow, with Clint cradling Natasha’s body. It’s beautifully jarring, and the emotions practically drip off the page. A word of praise also has to go to colorist Andres Mossa, whose coloring is flawless and gels perfectly with Checchetto’s art. Again, that Black Widow flashback is the highlight, with Mossa choosing to render the scene in a bloody, violent red.
Old Man Hawkeye is the prequel nobody asked for. Surprisingly though, it’s also a tremendous read, and is definitely worth picking up.
Old Man Hawkeye is the prequel nobody really expected, but it's surprisingly enjoyable, with tremendous character work and beautiful art.