Plus, writer Ethan Sacks talks about the shocking reveal in this week's issue #5!
In our Creator Commentary series, we give the floor to our storytellers as they present behind-the-scenes looks at the decisions that go into every last panel and page—in their very own words. Today we celebrate the release of OLD MAN HAWKEYE #5 by taking a closer look at the previous issue of the series with writer Ethan Sacks. Read up on issue #1, issue #2, and issue #3 before diving into issue #4 right here.
Ethan, over to you…
*** WARNING: this section contains spoilers for this week’s OLD MAN HAWKEYE #5 ***
Before we dive into issue #4, there’s some big news from issue #5 that just can’t wait until next month’s Creator Commentary…
Kate Bishop is alive in the Wastelands! It’s been hard to keep this under wraps until now, but bringing Kate in was part of my original pitch. She was and is an important part of the puzzle; as Clint loses his eyesight, he can’t continue on the vendetta by himself without being either ridiculously lucky or very dead. So I knew he needed help.
And Clint is not the moody introvert that Logan is, so he works better when he’s yapping away to a teammate or partner. But who? If it’s a super powered character, it would have wrestled the book away from the hero. As I mulled the options, only one made sense to me: Kate Bishop. Their relationship, as shown so well by Kelly Thompson in the recent HAWKEYE book, is the perfect combination of heart and humor for this Hope/Crosby road trip vibe.
Most importantly for me, however, is that their skill sets are so similar that they compliment each other rather than one overpowering the other. It also gave me a chance to explore how each would have handled the survivors’ guilt after all their friends died. Clint is still waiting for the big chance to take down the bad guys, figuring he has to have been left alive for a purpose. Kate has given up on changing the world, so she’s trying to help as many innocents as she can under the radar. Different philosophies of being a hero.
Same monthly price, twice the arrows! Now back to the Commentary on issue #4…
*** Wow, spoilerific! But you’re safe now. No more issue #5 spoilers from here on out! ***
Issue #4 is probably my favorite issue to date, and part of the reason why is because I really like Abe Jenkins and I really feel sorry for him. To show this, we did a series of nine-panel pages—and the fact that [artist] Marco Checchetto hasn’t killed me for this is pretty amazing.
We wanted to show the monotony—without boring the readers—of poor Abe Jenkins’ life. He’s no longer wearing the battle armor, he works six days a week, long hours at this Doombot factory. He has no friends, he just goes home and drinks. He writes letters to Melissa (Songbird) who was the love of his life, but she never writes back. We don’t even know if he really sends any of them, but basically that’s his existence: working, drinking, barely sleeping, writing, and that’s it. Nobody talks to him; they think he’s a joke. It hopefully makes you feel a little sorry for him before Hawkeye comes into the story. Hawkeye obviously feels a little less sorry for him.
So we go through this for a series of pages, and one of the things I’m trying to do here is thread little clues in about Hawkeye’s next stops. He obviously doesn’t know where all of the Thunderbolts are, so part of this is not only trying to kill his former teammates, but just trying to find them.
In Abe’s letters to Melissa, he has an address—the Sanctuary of the Silent Sisterhood—which will come into play later.
Anyway, you don’t have to go through too many of these nine-panel pages before there’s an awesome splash of Hawkeye, bow drawn, ready to put one more notch on his list.
But unbeknownst to Hawkeye, right outside of the factory is Bullseye, who’s caught up to him. He’s got this amazing looking rifle and he’s tracking him with the laser sight, so it looks like this is going to be the world’s shortest 12 issue series, ending in issue #4.
But it turns out, because he crossed Red Skull, he has the equivalent of bounty hunters after him. Some of them are these three grandchildren of Kraven the Hunter. They call themselves the Killer Kravenoffs. They think they’re badass but they really haven’t proven themselves and unfortunately their career doesn’t last very long. But they stall him long enough that he loses sight of Hawkeye, which pisses him off—and you don’t want to piss off Bullseye. So he makes short work of them.
I didn’t want him to fire a gun because that’s kind of a cop out for Bullseye, so he has a bullet that was on the floor and he flicks it with his finger and takes one of them out.
But he gets injured. This was important because he’s too injured to pursue Hawkeye at this moment.
I love this—that the last survivor vows that he will track Bullseye down to the ends of the Earth and have his vengeance; the sort of big comic book declaration of a bad guy. Then Bullseye just stabs him through the head because he wants no part in dealing with that.
He’s no nonsense. He’s not the mustache-twirling villain. He’s somebody who—to recap from previous issues—has been bored for so long. He hasn’t had a challenge, so this is everything to him, that there’s one last hero out there that he gets to kill. Some people take up sewing or karaoke, but for him it’s killing this last hero.
So speaking of this last hero, Hawkeye is waiting for Beetle and he has this little flashback. This flashback is part of that horrific flashback that we saw in issue #2; he’s in the Quinjet, with Black Widow, going to that last fight where all their group of heroes die. Obviously they don’t know that, but Natasha asks if they can really trust the Thunderbolts because they used to be villains. Clint explains his perspective, and the last thing he says is, “I’d trust Abe and those guys with our lives.” We, obviously, find out that was not the best call.
I wanted to give the art team settings for these battles that were different from each other—fun set pieces. So in this case, this is a wrecked Kree spaceship that serves as a war memorial, so there are lots of sharp scrappy pieces and things like that.
When Abe comes, he can barely fit into this old Beetle armor. He obviously hasn’t been taking care of it and hasn’t been taking care of himself.
It’s amazing that he’s sober enough to put it on in the first place, but he couldn’t completely put it on, so just to show how unprepared he was for this, he actually has Hawkeye help him strap in. And Hawkeye is noble enough that if he’s going to kill this guy, he wants him at his full potential.
They have this slightly heartbreaking moment where Clint asks him, “Why did you do it?” And Abe says, “I did it for love,” because he knew that if he joined that last fight, he’d have been treated as a Super Hero and Melissa would have been killed. He sacrificed his principles and he helped kill some of his friends just to keep her alive. That was his motivation, and I found a little nobility in it. Of course Hawkeye didn’t—the woman he loved wasn’t quite so lucky. So that’s what actually sets off the fight.
Elsewhere, the Venoms arrive to Blindfold’s tent. Now Blindfold, being able to see the future, realizes this is going to happen. So she’d been slowly poisoning herself, timing it right so she would die right when they come. But unfortunately, she didn’t die fast enough.
She realized that the Venoms could just bond with her and take her powers by force. She wanted to take that out of play, but they were too fast, so they got a glimpse of where Clint will be in issue #5.
Joe Caramagna does the lettering, and for the Venoms, the letters are like nails down a chalkboard. It really has that horror feel. So the showdown with the Venoms is coming. But now, we still have the Clint and Abe fight to finish.
Ultimately, of course, Hawkeye triumphs and basically causes Beetle’s armor to explode. I love the way Marco drew this scene—he looks like a bug with his arms and legs pulled off. He looks like a dead bug.
Then Hawkeye examines the body and finds a letter to Melissa. Now he has an address. He doesn’t know where it is, but he has a place to go. He starts reading this letter and ends up going to one of his favorite bars because it’s kind of tough to read. He needs a drink to go through with this.
The bar is Josie’s, and it’s Turk—of Daredevil fame—who wasn’t really a villain per se. He obviously survived and has this nostalgic memory of Josie’s. So he opens up, in the middle of nowhere, this bar near Paste Pot Creek.
You can see all of these ants around Clint’s beer bottle. And that’s because Turk has a nephew, Dwight the ant-kid from “Old Man Logan”. I love that character. He was only in “Old Man Logan” for a couple panels, so I kind of wanted to create a backstory for him. He has this helmet and he’s super smart for his age, but he’s still figuring out how to fix it. So there are ants all over the bar.
The cliffhanger at the end of this book is that the Venoms, having seen Blindfold’s vision, know exactly where Hawkeye is. So they are swarming around the outskirts of the bar, and Hawkeye is oblivious.
Keep reading with OLD MAN HAWKEYE #5, by Ethan Sacks and artist Marco Checchetto—available now!