There’s no doubt that “Old Man Logan” is one of Marvel’s bona fide hits, an elseworlds-style tale that has subsequently crossed over with the mainstream Marvel universe and spun off its own ongoing title. Yet Logan felt like a co-star for most of the original story. While he was busy putting on a morose Clint Eastwood schtick, he was accompanied by a blind Hawkeye who acted as both guide and comic relief in the post-apocalyptic landscape. It’s arguable they served as co-stars, even in a book titled Wolverine. Now Hawkeye is receiving his own 12-issue series to test if he has the same staying power as his counterpart in a prequel to the original story.
There’s an issue with this first, uh, issue though. “Old Man Logan” looms large over the series, not because of its seeming soon-to-be canonized status, but because Old Man Hawkeye refuses to let it go. The focus of this debut is entirely on the greatest hits of “Old Man Logan”. Excluding the opening and closing sequence, everything Hawkeye does is directly tied into the plot of its subsequent series. Those connections are not intrinsically negative, but here they serve only to set up a story that will never be told in these pages. Each encounter Hawkeye has with characters from “Old Man Logan” reiterates knowledge readers both don’t need and, most likely, already possess.
Hawkeye’s charm remains in Sacks’ presentation of the character, but he appears only a few months of glaucoma away from the man readers met in “Old Man Logan”. “Why do the next 11 issues matter?”, remains an open question. This decimated Marvel future is expanded in several directions that maintain interest though. Two new villains are introduced, both of whom fit the protagonist well and scratch that “what if” of the setup that made “Old Man Logan” such a fun road trip. They provide enough mileage to hope that the series continues to provide these unanticipated spins on well-defined characters.
Checchetto makes even the most unnecessary sequences work well. A visit with Hawkeye’s ex-wife returns the comical Ultron-8 from “Old Man Logan”, but his mannerisms and overall effect make the character enjoyable to observe in the background instead of simply being a callback. His depictions of new characters are perfectly refined to the Western-superhero mashup that his dirty, dusty landscapes evoke so well. The one action sequence shows the artist is an excellent match for Hawkeye, quickly spinning between the cause and effect that makes the absolute precision of Hawkeye’s archery impressive. Bolts land in quick succession in the most compressed panels of the issue. While it might seem a minor detail, it’s also apparent that Checchetto has researched archery. Hands and arms are far more reflective of the actual act than what is found in most depictions, which further elevates the quick cruelty of the issue’s Western setting.
The comic ends with its “To Be Continued” message phrased as “The Quest Begins”, but there is no obvious quest ahead of Old Man Hawkeye. Villains have appeared, but Hawkeye’s raison d'être is non-existent. He is alone and losing his eyesight, out for a revenge that either cannot occur or has not been defined. A first issue must establish a story, but Old Man Hawkeye #1 only provides a character and world. Perhaps this mistake will be rectified in #2, but that will only matter if reader’s remain interested without this key ingredient.
Written by Ethan Sacks
Art by Marco Checchetto
Colors by Andres Mossa
Lettering by Joe Caramagna