CLINT BARTON Confronts the Sins of the Past and the Horrors of the Future in OLD MAN HAWKEYE

Old Man Hawkeye #1
Credit: Marvel Comics
Credit: Marvel Comics

Writer Ethan Sacks and artist Marco Checchetto are going back to the future - back to the dystopian future of "Old Man Logan," that is, for Old Man Hawkeye, a look at Hawkeye's future, but leading up to that landmark Wolverine story.

In the original "Old Man Logan," Wolverine and Hawkeye were traveling companions and friends across a wasteland full of twisted future versions of Marvel characters. According to Sacks, Old Man Hawkeye will go further into the origin of that future, specifically how Hawkeye came to be the blind archer we saw in that story, and what led to his status quo alongside Logan.

With promised twists on old favorites (including at least one X-Man), Sacks and Checchetto will show just how dangerous Hawkeye's life in the 45 years leading up to "Old Man Logan" actually was. Newsarama spoke to the creative team ahead of Old Man Hawkeye #1's January 10 release to discover all the gritty details of Clint Barton's old age.

This story also contains never before seen interior art from Old Man Hawkeye #1.

Newsarama: Ethan and Marco, how did you two wind up being the pair to give us Old Man Hawkeye?

Ethan Sacks: My secret origin story is not so dramatic. Having covered comics and geek culture for 20 years at the Daily News, I developed a lot of contacts and friends in the business. Last summer, I had an idea for a Star Wars one-shot, and I wrote a spec script just on a lark. I got it to a friend at Marvel to see what he thought. While that comic was ultimately nixed, it turned some heads at the publisher, including Mark Basso, my editor on Old Man Hawkeye. He gave me the chance to pitch a story for an “Old Man Logan” prequel centering around Hawkeye. So I plotted evil thoughts like a super villain in a secret lair for two weeks until I came up with a pitch that ultimately got me the job. It helped that I have read the original “OML” dozens and dozens of times as a fan. But I can't overstate what a gutsy move it is for a major publisher to take a chance on a rookie like me with a series this big. That's what Marvel does, takes risks and fosters new talent.

But the braintrust is also brainy: They paired me with a superstar artist in Marco, whose superlative skills as a visual storyteller take a lot of the pressure off me. It's not just the eye-popping art itself, Marco can arrange a panel in a way that really makes the drama pop even more. I'm in awe of his talent. Getting daily emails of art from him is among the best experiences of my professional life.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Marco Checchetto: I received the offer to work on a new series in the night (I live near Venice in Italy) during one of my hard FPS multiplayer game session, that I like to call “time for references.” Rickey Purdin contacted me saying “I have a big important offer to put in front of you… but I need an answer ASAP,” or something like that. So, I lost my match (Rickey, I hate you for that) and we started to talk about this new series with Axel Alonso and our editor Mark Basso. They told me “It’s a long story 12-issue called Old Man Hawkeye set before the events of the original Millar/McNiven “Old Man Logan” and you can invent new desings for new characters and backgrounds, you can do what you want! Are you interested?” Spoiler… I said yes!

Nrama: This takes place in the same timeline as “Old Man Logan,” where Hawkeye played a key role, but set before that story. What’s Hawkeye’s status quo at this point?

Sacks: Old Man Hawkeye is set five years before his fateful road trip with Logan.

By the time we see him in "Old Man Logan," Hawkeye is completely blind, adapted to his condition as a fighter and laser-focused on a mission to use super-soldier serum to finally take a stand against the Red Skull and his forces. Well, this ain't that Hawkeye. Not yet.

In this story, he is just existing, not living. He's been hungering for revenge for a very specific and horrific betrayal ever since that day that the super villains killed off just about all his fellow heroes. But he's just a guy with a bow and arrows. With the sudden onset of glaucoma that will soon rob him of his eyesight, though, he realizes this is his last chance to right some old wrongs. So he takes it. Or tries to.

Checchetto: Speaking about the design, I decided to draw him a bit younger and I gave him some serious scars and weathering, so it’s clear he did some dangerous things during the last 45 years.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Nrama: What’s Hawkeye’s goal in this series? What’s he up against?

Sacks: Hawkeye is on a ticking clock to right these 45-year-old wrongs while he still retains his skills as a marksman. He's out to kill some specific people, who frankly may not all deserve it. But when a superhero suddenly surfaces after being presumed dead for 45 years, well, the powers that be can't abide by that. So while Hawkeye is hunting his targets, someone or somethings are hunting him. And then on a more metaphorical level, he's up against time and his own human frailty, forces which can't be vanquished with arrows.

Nrama: Ethan, your background is in journalism. How does that inform the way you tell a serialized story?

Sacks: As a journalist who has been getting a real-time education on comic book writing, the advantage I have from my past life is bringing time organization and a paranoia about missing deadlines to the table. Working a crime beat part time for a couple of years probably helped me with dialogue, too. I've also read hundreds of comic scripts over the years, both as a professional and before that as a lifelong fan, that I can reverse engineer the ones I love best to get the format right.

But I think the biggest way my past life helps me on a story of this scale is through my experience as the film editor for the New York Daily News. You'll see a lot of cinematic influences in Old Man Hawkeye, from Kill Bill to High Noon.

Nrama: Marco, you’ve been working in the Star Wars Galaxy for a little while. What takeaways are you bringing back to superhero comic books?

Checchetto: I love to work on Star Wars, I’m a big fan of the saga. My style is realistic and cinematic and when I work on my pages I like to think at my panel like a screen. The must important thing in the comic books, for me, is the storytelling. So, the same thing you can find on my Star Wars series and my Super Heroes series is that I want tell you a story with pictures and not to draw only beautiful pages.

Nrama: Without being too spoiler-y, what’s on your drawing board today? Without being too spoiler-y, what’s on your drawing board today?

Checchetto: Every page of this book has something incredible to draw. I really love this book. Right now I’m drawing a page where there are a couple of characters sitting during a dinner and one of them is ruining the atmosphere filling the whole page with blood. I love it! I’m almost sorry to draw this series because I’d love to buy it for reading it.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Nrama: One of the most fun things about these alternate timeline/future stories is seeing new twists on classic characters. Who can we expect to see in this series?

Sacks: I can't wait until you see all the new (well, technically old) Wasteland versions of characters that will be vexing Hawkeye over the next 12 issues. But most of these are best left as surprises. There might be another hero or two who also survived in hiding. To tease one that's hinted on the cover of the first issue, poor Jamie Madrox has changed a lot with all that inbreeding -er, cloning - over the years, having long forgotten who he originally was, and has become a roving gang of outlaws all by himself... or rather himselves.

Nrama: You’ve got 12 issues for this story. Does knowing your page count affect the way you approach the script Ethan, or Marco, your sequentials?

Sacks: As a writer, having that much room to unfold a story is a gift. It's the perfect combination of having enough real estate to allow Hawkeye to go on a true internal and external journey and having a fixed end so there's a destination for that journey that's clear for me Marco and I to work towards. Mark Basso and then-editor in chief Axel Alonso, my Yoda when it came to pacing and tone, had a huge role in shaping the outline and steering me back on point when I tried to do too much too soon. Editors are truly the unsung heroes of the business. I will stress this: I had the last issue plotting firmly fixed in my head before I started writing the first page of issue #1. But getting there will be at least half the fun.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Checchetto: I’m so happy about that. In 12-issues we can show a lot of characters, environments and there are enough pages to give something more in terms of emotions, that’s crucial for a story like this in my opinion.

Nrama: What can you tell us about Old Man Hawkeye that nobody knows just yet?

I'll field this one. The main villain is someone I think fans will be extremely excited to see pitted against Hawkeye. And you'll know who it is on January 10. Also, there will be a ton of action over the 12 issues, but I had a lot of catharsis as a dad of a teen daughter delving into Clint's toxic relationship with Ashley... you know, before she became a homicidal wannabe criminal kingpin. Working in the Easter eggs from "Old Man Logan" and other stories has been a joy. I'm attacking this as a fan who wants other fans to have as much enjoyment reading it as I am having writing it.

Checchetto: Hawkeye has a scar on his right shoulder that looks like the “A” of Avengers.

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