Ten years ago, Marvel, Mark Millar and Steve McNiven gave us the dystopian future of "Old Man Logan," a Wolverine-and-Hawkeye story in which the villains have taken over America, a gang of inbred Hulks run rampant and a T-rex plays host to the Venom symbiote. 

This year, the publisher is revisiting that world in "Old Man Hawkeye," a 12-issue prequel story in which the archer, who is losing his sight, makes one last bid to avenge his fallen fellow heroes. Issue #1 drops Wednesday.

The series is the first for writer Ethan Sacks, a longtime comics fan and 20-year veteran of the New York Daily News, who has been paired with Marco Checchetto, the artist behind a number of Marvel's "Star Wars" books.

Sacks chatted with Wednesday Morning Quarterback about his way into comics, the new series and the Daily Bugle as a New York newspaper.

WMQ: Your “break-in” story involves pitching a "Star Wars" script to Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada. As someone who’d been covering the comics industry for years as a journalist, how long had this script been sitting in the back of your head? Was making the leap to the other side of the page something you’d wanted to do for a long time?

Ethan Sacks: Honestly, it never occurred to me that it was a potential option. As a journalist, I had operated under a church-and-state separation with the beats I covered. The same way, as film editor, my last title at the Daily News, I would never think of slipping a script to Spielberg when I interviewed him. Sure, I daydreamed a bit about comic book ideas. The “Star Wars” script was just a lark, and if they took it at the time, while I was still in journalism full time, I would have donated all my pay to charity to avoid any appearance of improprieties. I’ve since left the News and am now free from any potential conflict of interests and pursue this as an actual career.

WMQ: Your first published work for Marvel was a Daily Bugle story in last year's “Secret Empire: Brave New World” #3. As a New York journalist, what’s your take on the reputability of the Bugle, the paper whose former publisher had a history of running anti-Spider-Man editorials on the front page?

Sacks: My first published Marvel story was a love letter to newspapers — especially in this era where they are not properly appreciated. I have, however, had one or two editors-in-chief like J. Jonah Jameson, who were so obsessed with staunching declining circulation that they went full tabloid. Spider-Man sold papers. At the end of the day, it was really dedicated journalists like Ben Urich, Betty Brant and Robbie Robertson who made that paper the lifeblood of the city. So, yeah, I’d subscribe to the Bugle if I lived in that world. Plus, that Spider-Man IS A MENACE!

WMQ: Marvel has a history of revisiting doomed worlds to mine more gold out of them. See "Age of Apocalypse," "Days of Future Past," etc. What is the appeal of this version of the Darkest Timeline for you?

Sacks: What makes this world so unique is that the bad guys not only won, but they even destroyed legacies. If there were a handful of heroes left to make a stand, you probably wouldn’t want it to be a mutant pacifist and a dude with a bow and arrow. But Thor is dead and the Hulk is now criminally insane. Clint feels powerless because he is powerless and he’s waited most of his life for someone else to appear and avenge his fallen Avengers. But as this story opens, he discovers his glaucoma is getting worse faster than ever. He’s on a ticking clock if he ever wants to right one specific wrong. If he can’t take down the whole system, then he can take down the handful of people most responsible for his personal grief. 

I also wanted to introduce some more shades of gray into the story. Not every villain he’s after is evil. Some made the wrong moral choices for what may be the right reason. Do they deserve an arrow through the throat for it all these years later? Setting it in the Darkest Timeline allows us that mature rating to ratchet up the stakes. 

WMQ: Old Man Hawkeye is a 12-issue series. The original "Old Man Logan" story by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven was eight issues. To your mind, how much of the world of "Old Man Logan" was a blank canvas left for you and Marco to paint?

Sacks: There are no B-sides on this 12-track album. Hawkeye’s quest for revenge covers a lot of ground and … well, he has to go through a lot of arrows. I wanted to take this opportunity to see some of Wasteland that Logan and Clint would drive past five years later. There were plenty of blank parts of that brilliant map produced 10 years ago by Millar and McNiven that we could now color. With an artist like Marco Checchetto wielding the pencil, we wanted to give him plenty of different new locations to draw. It’s also not much of a spoiler to reveal that we have a large number of villains, and I think this era’s Italian master enjoyed redesigning their costumes for this dystopian world. 

WMQ: Does working with Checchetto, who’s been one of Marvel’s go-to "Star Wars" artists, make you want to try your hand at another "Star Wars" script?

Sacks: I’m a huge “Star Wars” nerd, and I would rip the ears off a gundark to play in that sandbox one day. But honestly, nothing geeks me out more than the idea of working with Marco Checchetto again, on any project. Heck, I would do a 12-issue 3-D Man/D-Man team-up book if it meant working with him again. He sure would make even that look stunning. No matter where this comic book ride goes for me, getting his “Old Man Hawkeye” art in my email inbox will stand as a one of the great experiences of my life.

Contact: 609-272-7234


Twitter @danielpgrote



Press copy editor since 2006, copy desk chief since 2014. Masters in journalism from Temple University, 2006. My weekly comics blog, Wednesday Morning Quarterback, appears Wednesday mornings at PressofAC.com.