June 22, 2024

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Comic Review: Old Man Hawkeye Volume 1

An elderly Clint Barton hits the road for revenge in this prequel to Old Man Logan.

Old Man Logan  was a fantastic story, set in a time after most of Marvel’s heroes were more or less wiped out by the villains joining forces.  Still, a story that did that well for sales, you just know Marvel would milk it for all its worth, and the first such spin-off was Old Man Hawkeye, a 12 issue prequel showing a bit of what Clint Barton’s life was life prior to the original story.

As it is, I managed to get the first volume, covering the first six issues and subtitled An Eye for an Eye.

Clint Barton is out on a job when something comes up that was a bit unexpected:  he misses a shot.  He’s soon diagnosed with failing eyesight with months, maybe weeks left before he becomes effectively blind.  Is there anything he really wants to see before that happens?  As it is, there is one thing:  he wants justice against his former teammates the Thunderbolts.  The team of reformed villains turned on the Avengers at a crucial moment and cost Earth’s Mightiest Heroes their lives, saving Hawkeye alone because he was seen as not enough of a hero to be worth killing.  As such, Clint sets out to take down the surviving Thunderbolts.

Now, on its own, that may not seem like much, but then writer Ethan Sacks does something interesting.  He really builds off the Old Man Logan story but also shows a bit more of what this world is now without its superheroes.    Clint’s early actions don’t go unnoticed as he finds himself being pursued separately by both Bullseye and Venom (who has a neat new trick thanks to who the host body belongs to), but the remaining Thunderbolts themselves aren’t exactly pleased with themselves (with one noteworthy exception), and Clint may be interested in putting them down in the name of justice, but he doesn’t seem to be any more pleased to do it plus the two Thunderbolts he meets in this volume actually welcome death.  It’s a twist that I didn’t see coming, and I really appreciate it.  Old Man Logan writer Mark Millar is many things, but subtle character work isn’t generally part of his forte.  Seeing the Thunderbolts, most of them miserable and far past their prime, as well as explaining why they turned on the Avengers the way they did, makes it more than just a “good vs. evil” story, but more one full of gray where people made and make bad decisions have to live with themselves afterwards.  The Thunderbolts may have had a good reason to make the decision they did, and things didn’t turn out well for them in so many ways afterwards.  Plus, the book goes into a bit more detail on how some other characters Millar, for obvious story space reasons, didn’t check in on that make for some pleasant surprises.

If anything, this story does suggest that much of what happened in Old Man Logan was more Clint Barton’s fault than anyone had let on before.

So, being a sucker for these sorts of alternate timeline stories, a good story, and good art means I actually dug this more than I thought I would.  It didn’t come across as a mediocre cash grab and actually had a story of its own to tell.  I will have to read the back half at some point.  8.5 out of 10 ignored calls.