45 years ago, super villains organized under the Red Skull and eliminated most of Earth’s mightiest heroes. Though few would survive, none were left without suffering the physical and emotional damage laid upon them that horrific day. One of those heroes was Clint Barton, but some may know him as Old Man Hawkeye.
Marvel’s latest maxi series to end was one that came with an untimely fate for Clint Barton. The series, which lasted from March to December 2018, was written by Ethan Sacks with art by Marco Checchetto and colors by Andres Mossa. Taking place five years before the events of the original Old Man Logan, the creators quickly reestablish the ominous and apocalyptic features of the Wastelands to reel in readers who’ve familiarized themselves with this universe. But while the creators of Old Man Hawkeye rehash familiar tropes with this world and its supporting characters, they set up an intricate character study for our beloved hero in which he experiences his greatest vulnerability.
Art by Ibraim Roberson, Colors by Andres Mossa
In issue #1, it’s quickly revealed how calamitous yet moving this maxi series will be. For one, readers immediately learn that Barton is on the brink of blindness. “How long do I have,” asks Clint, reluctantly, as he anxiously awaits his inevitable fate. While not given a direct answer, the doctor warns him to see and do all that he must and wants before time is up. And what Clint Barton wants most is to seek revenge on those who had a hand in killing his friends.
When the series is at its best, Clint is forced to not only contemplate what’s important to him, but also to consider the repercussions of his goal. He is anxious to see his vengeance through, but at what cost? Not to mention, but here is an old enemy on his trail who would stop at nothing to end Barton’s hunt! Desperate for the thrill of a kill, the former Marshal Bullseye follows his every move to ensure that Hawkeye can’t complete his vendetta. But Barton soon finds an ally in his former trainee, Kate Bishop, and their adventure takes them through so much death and carnage. But together they keep on their journey to ultimately reach the captain of destruction – the one who is truly responsible for the demise of Earth’s mightiest heroes – Baron Helmut Zemo. And what comes in the following issues is captivating, as readers follow Barton on his journey of regret, retribution, and growth.
One of the most interesting aspects of Old Man Hawkeye is how Clint is written. He isn’t just burdened by his “fortuitous” survival, he’s swallowed by it completely. Stricken with guilt and restricted by his disability, he seeks out help anywhere he could take it. Within every issue, the pain and horrifying memories overcome Clint, but they also aid him on his rage expedition. And through a series of flashbacks, readers come to understand his pain and have no choice but to sympathize thanks to the incredible writing.
Throughout the series, writer Ethan Sacks pushes Clint physically and emotionally, and he sets the stage for gruesome battles to showcase Barton’s skill as a sharpshooter as well as his expiration as one. These clashing aspects reveal so much about the talented team behind Old Man Hawkeye. On every page, within every battle, and with every shed of blood, the creators demonstrate a world succumbed to the dark forces of regret and retribution. But this story goes beyond just a tale of revenge. It’s a personal journey for Clint Barton as he must deal with emotional and physical forces that impair his rational thinking. As a result, we observe a down-and-out hero who is fighting his way through guilt and his own demons towards a path of redemption. But when presented with the choice of making a difference amidst his quest for vengeance, it shows that Barton isn’t the hero he once was until his reality is changed right before his blinding eyes.
With the great story of Old Man Hawkeye comes incredible art that, in a sense, defines the story. It’s crisp and rough, and it reflects the environment in which the story is told. Paired with Sacks’ writing, Mossa’s colors and Checchetto’s design for the recreation of this “old” universe are grand. With every page turn, readers can expect panels that are rich with action sequences yet also balanced with emotion. Truly, the team has created a special series to represent Clint’s struggle between letting the spirit of revenge overtake him completely and finding his way back to heroism. The story is as much about Clint’s triumphs and failures through his conflicts as it is a reflection of how the team sees him as a character in the Marvel Universe, which is exactly why it’s so great.
So, if you’re still deciding on reading Old Man Hawkeye, I encourage you to do so, especially now that Vol 1: An Eye for an Eye is in stores. The creative team takes a simple story of revenge and crafts an awakening for old Clint Barton. From the emotional backstory, giving Hawkeye the perfect motivation, to his new-found acceptance of his fate and road to vindication, the series feels fresh and exciting while exploring old territory in the Old Man Logan Universe. And above all, the book reminds us just how special Clint Barton is as a hero – with or without his sight. Whether he’s seeking an eye for an eye or slowly stepping back into his heroic habits, one thing’s certain: when Old Man Hawkeye is around, justice is blind..