The post-apocalyptic, dystopian world of Earth- 807128 came into being in 2008. Mark Millar and Steve McNiven created the savage Wastelands, a time when the United States of America and its superheroes have fallen and President Red Skull now rules with major supervillains claiming parts of the country to reign. Amidst this turmoil, many superheroes have managed to live under the radar. Some learn to live as pacifists, while others try to make amends. Old Man Hawkeye was in the latter group, an angry man hell-bent on revenge against the villainous Baron Zemo. Barton did have his vengeance but at the cost of advancing his glaucoma, inevitably turning him blind. Realizing he still has some fight left in him, Hawkeye embarks on a journey to the mountains of Asia to seek out the master known as Stick.
Wastelanders: Hawkeye #1 takes place between the events of Old Man Hawkeye and the Old Man Logan series, serving as an addendum to the hellish history of the Wastelands. Written by Ethan Sacks with artworks from Ibraim Roberson and Dijjo Lima, the one-shot takes a look at Hawkeye's past before his fateful outing with Logan. The once famous Clint Barton has lost his eyesight and in his desperation, has turned his eyes to the one man who can train him so that he may continue his mission. Matthew Murdock is now known as Master Stick and takes Barton under his wings. But Barton's anger stemming from his dark past may prove to be too difficult to control.
No other writer has been as involved with the Wastelands as Ethan Sacks, whose Old Man Hawkeye and Old Man Quill runs not only expanded the saga but served a veritable dose of fun. Wastelanders: Hawkeye #1 is a journey both in the literal sense and figurative. Clint Barton is in a dark place, and he can feel the clock ticking with his every breath. The duty of being a former Avenger weighs on him, and Sacks portrays this well in the brief moments of introspection. Murdock's Stick acts as the true north to Hawkeye's moral compass, a very different role for the Man Without Fear, who was known for exacting vengeance. While the one-shot makes no deep changes to the overall character arc of Hawkeye, the engaging narrative and thematic tones in the story offer a new side to the character.
Artist Ibraim Roberson is no stranger to the arid topography of the Wastelands, having returned to the legacy of the series from time to time. His rich, expansive artwork helps the book stand out overall. Roberson's clean lines, supple hatching, and bold inking give the book a striking appearance. His artwork is full of dynamic poses and wide splash pages that depict great action sequences and close-quarter combat in detail. Colorist Dijjo Lima limits his colors to a restrictive palette, although the pages shift from warmer shades to muted tones depending on the activity. Lima's lighting effect -- be it over the rocky cliffs of Utah or the snow-laden mountainside of Idaho -- gives a glow to the artwork.
On the surface, Wastelanders: Hawkeye #1 feels like a filler chapter with guest appearances from unexpected characters and references to past events. However, on a deeper level, the high-octane action set pieces are nothing more than a smokescreen that hides Hawkeye’s psychological pain and emotional anguish, leading him on a soul-searching expedition. The one-shot is incredibly well-paced, and it ties in perfectly with the main Old Man Hawkeye run.
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