Old Man Hawkeye writer Ethan Sacks joins the podcast!

Kick your big Marvel weekend off right with a brand-new episode of This Week in Marvel!

In this installment, Tucker yells, Alex invents a reason to go to Hong Kong, and Ryan doesn’t like rollercoasters. Then, OLD MAN HAWKEYE writer Ethan Sacks drops by to talk about the future of the series and how he got his start in comics.

Download the episode from Marvel.com, check out Marvel Podcast Centralgrab the TWiM RSS feed, and subscribe to This Week in Marvel on iTunes so you never miss an episode! Then head over to our Soundcloud hub to listen to the entire run of the show!

With new episodes every Friday, This Week in Marvel delivers all the latest Marvel discussion and news about comics, TV, movies, games, toys, and beyond! TWiM is hosted by Marvel Creative Executive Ryan “Agent M” Penagos, Marvel.com Assistant Editor Tucker Markus, and Assistant Manager of Social Media Alex Lopez. We want your feedback—as well as questions for us to answer on future episodes—so tweet your questions and comments about the show to @AgentM, @tuckermarkus, @alexl0pez_, or @Marvel with the hashtag #ThisWeekinMarvel!

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Ethan Sacks gives a behind-the-scenes look at how the comic came to life!

In our new series, Creator Commentary, we’re giving the floor to our storytellers as they present behind-the-scenes looks at the decisions that go into every panel and page—in their very own words. And for our first installment, writer Ethan Sacks gives a tour of the hidden secrets and influences behind OLD MAN HAWKEYE #1.

Ethan, over to you…

The Inspiration

One of the breakout characters from “Old Man Logan” was Old Man Hawkeye. That the seminal event, set 50 years from the present, has a blind Clint Barton—though he’s been able to adjust; he’s a great fighter, and he’s driven. Hawkeye has a plan in “Old Man Logan” to strike back at the Red Skull, who has harmed him in so many ways, but I’ve always wondered what the hell was Clint doing for 50 years before that? Why did it take 50 years to get there?

My original pitch for OLD MAN HAWKEYE was to set it five years earlier than “Old Man Logan,” as he’s losing his vision, to see the struggle. He has survivor’s guilt that he got to be one of very few heroes still living in this era while many “better” heroes didn’t. He’s been looking for a way to make everything right, but at his heart, he feels powerless. When he realizes he’s losing his vision, he decides there’s one thing he can do: get revenge against a specific set of people—people I will not yet reveal until a later Creator Commentary—before he runs out of time.

Easter Eggs

One thing I loved about “Old Man Logan” was seeing that the Hulk grandchildren flew in the Fantasticar—the Fantastic Four vehicle—so I thought about what would happen to some of these random vehicles and things from the Marvel Universe 45 years into this horrible future. During the scene in the very first panel on page one of issue #1, the characters are driving a vehicle from the 1990s series FORCE WORKS—the Force Wagon—which, in the future, is just a vehicle that a merchant of illegal drugs bought to ferry his stuff across the country.

They’re also driving through Tannenbaum Gorge, which was a little nod to an obscure Marvel villain called Doctor Tannenbaum. I figured that the better villains would have cities named after them but, because this poor guy couldn’t even beat the Great Lakes Avengers, he’d have this uninhabited ravine named after him. Apologies to any Doctor Tannenbaum fans out there.

With the first issue, we wanted to show what Hawkeye is doing at this point in time—that he’s essentially running protection for merchants. And here, his crew gets ambushed by the Madrox gang. In the opening action scene, we have the Madrox gang and, on page three, we see them in all their glory. We thought that, over the years, all that self-cloning and breeding would make him actually forget who he really was; he would evolve into this totally different personality. He was like a copy of a copy of a copy, and he’s degraded. I like the idea of him being an entire outlaw gang and, every time he gets killed, he just makes more of himself. The other purpose of the scene is that we see Hawkeye—who never misses—actually miss one of the people he’s aiming at, accidentally hitting him in the shoulder. And that miss has consequences later.

On page eight, you may notice that Hawkeye has a little scar in the shape of the Avengers “A.” That was Marco Checchetto’s contribution. He liked that. There are many little visual nuances like that.

Old Man Logan

By page nine, Hawkeye’s been given the bad news that he’s losing his eyesight quicker than he thought, so he goes and tries to recruit Logan. Now, I love Logan and he’s obviously the hero of “Old Man Logan,” but in our story—because he’s still a pacifist for another five years—he has to deny Hawkeye’s request. Hawkeye has a crushing realization that his best friend has no interest in helping him.

I wanted to put in a couple of little details that allude to “Old Man Logan,” so on pages 10 and 11, Hawkeye brings a gift—an Xbox. It’s the same Xbox that Logan’s kids have at the beginning of the story that begins five years from this point. I wanted to reveal the secret origin of that Xbox, just in case people were spending sleepless nights wondering about that.

After Clint talks to his friend, he speaks to Ashley. Now, for those who have not read “Old Man Logan,” Ashley is Hawkeye’s daughter and Peter Parker’s granddaughter. And by the point we see her in the original story, she’s essentially a super villain. So I wondered how this daughter of an Avenger—this granddaughter of one of the best super heroes ever to live—could have turned out the way she did. I wanted to explore Hawkeye’s neuroses about being a dad and how he wasn’t always there for her.

The Big Bad

Then, because the sole surviving Madrox clone is in a lot of pain, he can’t concentrate on duplicating, so he’s just trying to survive and he runs into the Venom symbiote. We talked about some of the villains we could use and we thought—without giving too much away—that Venom merging with the Madrox clone might be really, really cool.

The wonderful world that Mark Millar and Steve McNiven made allows for a kind of an upside-down feeling, because the villains run everything. So villains do so some of the functioning jobs. And we have a great villain in as the local Marshal—as the law enforcement. Once it becomes obvious that a real super hero has resurfaced after all these years, it is on this Marshall to hunt down that super hero.

I begged my editors to allow this bad guy to have Deathlok enhancements. Because why not? I wanted to enhance him, while diminishing the skills of his prey; I wanted the reader to see that this villain outclasses Hawkeye.

So, Hawkeye is hunting some people who’ve wronged him in the past and, unbeknownst to himat least for nowhe’s being hunted as well.

Continue the story by reading OLD MAN HAWKEYE #2, from Ethan Sacks and artist Marco Checchetto, tomorrow—February 14!

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Writer Ethan Sacks sends Clint Barton back to the Wastelands!

Mark Millar and Steve McNiven‘s modern day classic “Old Man Logan” storyline in the pages of WOLVERINE introduced readers to a post-apocalyptic wasteland future for the Marvel Universe, where longtime Avenger Clint Barton appeared as a bland shell of his former self in a world where everything’s gone wrong.

On January 10, writer Ethan Sacks and artist Marco Checchetto take us back to that same dark tomorrow in OLD MAN HAWKEYE #1, the first issue of a 12-part limited series! This time, however, we turn the clocks back to five years before “Old Man Logan,” so we can see how Barton lost his sight and regressed to the man he’s destined to become.

We spoke with Sacks about aging Hawkeye and crafting this harrowing vision of the future.

Marvel.com: Ethan, as someone with a background in journalism, how did you come to write this book?

Ethan Sacks: My not-so-secret origin story involves a kindly wizard! Well, that’s not far off, because it was the amazing [Marvel Chief Creative Officer] Joe Quesada, who’s been a friend for going on two decades. I had an idea for a Star Wars standalone script that was sort of clawing at the back of my head, so in the spur of the moment I asked him to look at it. While that issue didn’t ultimately get published, the behind-the-scenes reaction to it ended up being positive enough that then-Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso began talking to me about potential series and stories that I could do for Marvel. Now, here I am.

I can’t ever repay those two, plus editors Nick Lowe, Charles Beacham, and Mark Basso, for believing in me and giving me a chance to fulfill a childhood dream. And then coaching me up. Marvel has always encouraged finding new writers and artists, nurturing them and giving them a chance on their books. I’m just the latest in a long succession.

I may be a comic book writing rookie, but 20 years in journalism has helped me enormously. Reading thousands of comic scripts covering the “geek beat,” as my editor called it, I could reverse engineer what worked best. Also, reporting has given me a paranoia about missing deadlines, an ear for dialogue and some sense of story-telling, I think. Then again, my editors at the “New York Daily News” may tell you otherwise.

Most importantly, I knew “Old Man Logan,” inside and out. My trade paperback copy is well worn. So I had the confidence that if I could navigate that world.

Marvel.com: OLD MAN HAWKEYE takes place five years before the events of “Old Man Logan.” What inspired you to explore this time period? Can you tell us about the Clint Barton we’ll see when the story begins?

Ethan Sacks: When I was asked to pitch for OLD MAN HAWKEYE, it clearly had to be a prequel…or a zombie thriller, I suppose. But let’s go with prequel. So, by the time the original Mark Millar and Steve McNiven story opens, Clint is already blind and has adjusted to be a competent fighter. Moreover, he has purpose and he has a plan. But how did he get there? And why did it take him 50 years to get off his butt to attempt some avenging? From there it seemed like a good premise for a starting point would be when that onset of glaucoma would force him to try to finish some unfinished business…while he still could see well enough to shoot some arrows into the right targets. This is a revenge tale. From the beginning, I had an idea of what Hawkeye went through on that day that the super villains united to kill all the heroes. Imagine how much survivor’s guilt he carries around having been left alive. His desire for revenge is justified.

Marvel.com: How does this version of Clint differ from the one we see in “Old Man Logan”? And how far removed is he from the lovable Clint of Matt Fraction and David Aja’s HAWKEYE era?

Ethan Sacks: He’s a lot like the Clint of both those eras: Impulsive, a little scattered, immature, a danger to those closest to him. He still has that big old heart and, most of all, that frenetic sense of humor. That’s definitely a tip of the bow to Fraction’s run. In this story, he may be the same old Barton—but he’s that same old Barton under a layer of 45 years of emotional pain. There will be some Easter eggs and nods to that run in the story, too.

Marvel.com: Can you tease which other characters might show up?

Ethan Sacks: Alas, I’m keeping this close to the vest because I want to surprise people. The promo art clearly shows that Venom and Jamie Madrox will be in the story, though very different versions than the ones fans are used to seeing.

One of the joys of this series has also been giving a little more time to some of the “Old Man Logan” secondary characters—particularly Clint’s estranged daughter, Ashley, as well as Dwight and his Ant-Man helmet.

Marvel.com: What challenged you the most when writing this series?

Ethan Sacks: This is a violent story, and Hawkeye won’t be living by the good-guy code of the mainstream Marvel Universe. He’s going to shoot people with pointy arrows that go into the soft bits. No stun gun arrows. Okay, maybe one. But he’s also not Wolverine, who is ready to kill people for ripping off those tags on a mattress. It’s a tough balancing act to make Clint a vigilante while keeping him to some kind of good-guy code. So, when are we going too far? When are we breaking a beloved character, instead of just bending him in a new direction? The last thing I’d ever want to do is damage a super hero created by the great Stan Lee and Don Heck.

Marvel.com: Last question: What’s the wildest thing you’ve asked Marco Checchetto to draw so far?

Ethan Sacks: There is a scene in the beginning of issue #2 that might have been too grisly for “Silence of the Lambs,” and you’ll know it when you see it, that brings new meaning to the phrase, “splash page.” Because a lot of blood gets splashed. But it’s an important moment and not just for shock value. I don’t want to give away the context because it lands like a gut punch when you’re not expecting it. And then there’s the flashback scene…

I hope Marvel will eventually release all the character sketches that Marco has been doing. There are a lot of villains—familiar to comic readers, but previously unseen in the “Old Man Logan” universe—that required a Wastelands makeover. Which means he dips them in blood and sweat and dirt and marinated hatred. They look so damn cool and cruel in a way that would send Mad Max scurrying for cover. And I get these mind-blowing sketches in my email inbox virtually every day. I never stop geeking out.

You all better learn how to spell Marco Checchetto’s name, because the guy is going to go down as one of the best artists in comic book history.

The journey begins with OLD MAN HAWKEYE #1, by Ethan Sacks and artist Marco Checchetto, on January 10!

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