Old Man Hawkeye by Ethan Sacks is a prequel of sorts to Old Man Logan. The events of this collection takes place directly before the famous storyline of Old Man Logan, illustrating how Hawkeye comes into possession of the super soldier serum that leads to him teaming up with Wolverine.
Old Man Logan was featured as part of the Wolverine series in 2009 written by Mark Millar. This story was set in an alternate future where the villains of the Marvel Universe had defeated all of the superheroes and completely taken over the world, leaving it an apocalyptic wasteland. Wolverine is one of the few survivors, left behind after Mysterio had created an illusion that resulted in Wolverine killing all of the X-Men. Living in the desolate future with his wife and children, Wolverine needs to pay rent to the Hulk Gang that reigns over the California desert.
Another sole survivor of the Avengers, Hawkeye, hires Wolverine to help deliver a package across the country containing super serum to start a new league of superheroes, but they are intercepted by the new S.H.I.E.L.D. which shoots them both on sight; Hawkeye does not the survive the fight. During these events, Wolverine’s family is killed by the Hulk Gang.
The Old Man Hawkeye Collection expands on this universe by telling the readers of the events leading up to Old Man Logan. While Old Man Logan ends as a revenge story, Old Man Hawkeye opens as one. Hawkeye pulls a “Punisher kills the Marvel Universe” when he decides it is time to get justice for all of his fallen brothers and sisters within the Avengers. Hawkeye is looking to exact vengeance on the the Thunderbolts, a team he led that turned against him and the Avengers to join the villains in taking down all of the superheroes.
Similar to Old Man Logan, the reader sees how all of Hawkeye’s teammates were defeated and killed by Marvel’s famous supervillains. Unlike Old Man Logan, the tragic twist that haunts Wolverine in which he was manipulated to kill the X-Men, Hawkeye’s twist of being betrayed by the Thunderbolts is far less shocking to the point where a new reader can see it coming from several miles in the distance. The battle which defeated all of the Avengers is also not believable, and honestly not interesting for what is supposed to be an iconic moment in this universe.
The Avengers fall too easily — Thor is defeated by the Absorbing Man of all villains, and Quicksilver breaks his leg and is stepped on by on Atlas. One of the more ridiculous moments is when Magneto kills his own daughter, Scarlet Witch, who by the way, has the powers to alter reality. Why was Magneto even part of this universe? It’s like Mark Millar didn’t fully understand who Magneto was as a character, and then Ethan Sacks had to pick up the debris of a plot line that was not well laid out.
The first half of the Old Man Hawkeye: The Complete Collection is much stronger than the second half. It’s well paced, intriguing, and builds on this universe in a way that is full of interesting new ideas. Bullseye chases after Hawkeye throughout the book as a western cowboy villain, attached with Deathlok’s technology. A band of Multiple Men copies run around as a gang of thieves. The infection of the glaucoma eye disease spreading in Hawkeye makes for some interesting battles, adding emotional depth to the archer who never misses his shot.
The story unfortunately starts to fall apart after the big reveal halfway through the collection, when Hawkeye discovers the betrayal of the Thunderbolts. The plot beats become sloppy and the pacing picks up into a series of over-the-top action sequences that almost seem like they are trying to be as gory as possible to match the standard Mark Millar set with Old Man Logan. Thankfully, an old version of Kate Bishop is introduced into the story at this point of the collection, and she really carries the book as she sympathizes with the reader by continuously asking “Why the hell is Clint doing this now?”
There is also a plot device that involves a romance between Hawkeye and Black Widow, that feels totally shoehorned into the story because of their close friendship in the Avengers films. While it is true that Hawkeye and Black Widow had a very brief flirtatious relationship at the beginning of the Avengers comics, they did not pursue or revisit it. To have these two characters be so madly in love that the death of Black Widow is the factor that drives Hawkeye over the edge is unbelievable and a trope that is overplayed in media.
Old Man Hawkeye is not a bad story. It’s illustrated with some incredible art by Marco Checchetto, Ibraim Roberson, Franceso Mobili and Andres Mossa. There are some interesting ideas introduced in here, written by Ethan Sacks. Overall, the concept of this collection is to expand on the Old Man Logan universe, but falls short in trying to compete with Mark Millar’s over-the-top use of excessive violence. What this story needed was to continue to build on the foundation that it sets up at the beginning of the collection instead of falling into violent action tropes.