Old Man Hawkeye #1
Written by Ethan Sacks
Art by Marco Checchetto and Andres Mossa
Lettering by Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
From the outset, Old Man Hawkeye might seem like an odd choice for a new series. The 12-issue maxi-series has a lot to live up to in the eyes of many who consider "Old Man Logan" to be a definitive Marvel story. But regardless of your feelings about the original story, it’s hard not to like what Ethan Sacks and Marco Checchetto do here. This is a prequel that nobody asked for and one that leans heavily on its source as a crutch, but this creative team still manage to pull an enjoyable reading experience out of it.
Sacks’ play-it-safe approach makes sense with Old Man Hawkeye's debut issue. Old Man Logan is already so beloved by so many despite its flaws that dancing between the raindrops of that story is daunting. So for the most part, Sacks sticks with what we already know and then shines a light on only the smallest bits of darkness on that narrative. The opening and closing scenes of this book are the greatest deviation from the events of "Old Man Logan," and subsequently they’re the best parts. The opening scene in particular reminds readers why this post-apocalyptic future was so much fun in the first place - this elderly Hawkeye is a little bit younger than the revolutionary who died in Mark Millar and Steve McNiven’s epic, as we’re thrown into high-octane heist sequence that goes about as terribly as you’d expect for a hillbilly gang spawned from the Multiple Man himself.
But in general, Sacks is adept at providing context for Hawkeye’s status quo in the original "Old Man Logan" universe, particularly as we see this one-time Avenger struggling with the realization that he’s losing the one thing that defined him most: his almost preternatural sense of sight. That puts the reader in an interesting place - if you’re the type that enjoys seeing the connective tissue, then this solid story will work really well for you. But if you’re the type that didn’t need more than what was provided in Mark Millar’s story, then there might not be as much here for you to chew on. That’s not to say this is a particularly fatty or wasteful piece of work - quite the opposite, in fact - but it doesn’t strike me as a required companion piece to the original. There’s the possibility that it will get to touch on certain themes that "Old Man Logan" doesn’t, but right now that’s not clear.
Sacks’ setup would seem a lot more superfluous without Marco Checchetto’s art. Checchetto keys in on the aesthetic of this wild, wild West and lets it breathe through his work. Backgrounds are obscured by grit and dust. And the inking is understated enough to give the book an almost painterly feel in conjunction with Andres Mossa’s colors. Checchetto’s staccato rhythm during the action sequences plays so well with Hawkeye’s abilities, and really heightens the intensity of the scene. Plus his character work is really on point - Checchetto leans into these designs and this world in all the right ways, making everything familiar feel like a proper return and everything new feel like a part of the world that we had just missed the first time around. It’s hard to overstate how crucial Checchetto is to this comic book working at all.
Old Man Hawkeye is not a bad start, but again, its success really lives and dies on the reader’s relationship to "Old Man Logan." That’s a blessing and curse in a lot of ways because it doesn’t let this work stand on its own - at least now yet. However, for his breakout comic book writing work, Sacks makes a compelling enough case for why we should give this a chance and Checchetto certainly helps him out. While there’s no indication yet that Sacks’ story is more than Hawkeye’s perspective of the events of "Old Man Logan," there is potential for this book to go in a really surprising direction if the creative team has enough vision. This is a solid start, a book whose opening salvo appears to be on target - it just remains to be seen whether or not Old Man Hawkeye has enough uniqueness in its story trajectory to truly hit the bullseye.