WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Old Man Hawkeye #12 by Ethan Sacks, Francesco Mobili, Andres Mossa and Joe Caramagna, in stores now.
After building toward an epic confrontation since its first issue, Marvel's Old Man Hawkeye delivered the promised fight between Clint Barton and Bullseye in September's Issue 9. As the two characters fought to the death, the cybernetically enhanced Bullseye dropped a startling revelation: The last superhero he killed was Daredevil, more than four decades earlier.
Bullseye recounted that, after fatally stabbing him, the Man Without Fear threw himself down a waterfall before the villain could cut his heart out as a trophy. The story was told only in a brief exchange, but it was still enough to make readers wonder whether Daredevil could have somehow survived the fight. It turns out that he did, because Old Man Hawkeye #12 ends on a promising cliffhanger: the arrival of Old Man Daredevil.
The realization at the beginning of the series that he was going blind and propelled Old Man Hawkeye on a final quest for vengeance. In the penultimate issue, Clint lost his eyesight due to an attack by Avalanche, finally answering the question fans have pondered since the introduction of an aging, blind Hawkeye in "Old Man Logan," by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven.
In Old Man Hawkeye #12, Clint reels from this devastating loss, but proves he can still be an efficient archer, with a bit of help from Kate Bishop. However, this Clint Barton is far from being the efficient, blind-driving killing machine we meet in Old Man Logan. There is definitely a gap in his story, a learning curve that takes him from Old Man Hawkeye #12 to his first appearance in "Old Man Logan."
As we theorized, Clint had a mentor who knows a thing or two about fighting blind. Old Man Hawkeye #12 brings Clint's quest for revenge to a conclusion while simultaneously reigniting his heroic side, but it doesn't end there. While at first it appears the final issue leads directly into Clint's story with Logan, it instead offers a final page that takes place a year later. Barton now finds himself atop a snowy mountain, an apparent intruder escorted by monks to their sensei.
"Are you the one they call Stick?" he asks. Stick, of course, was the name of Matt Murdock's mentor. Barton asks the sensei for guidance and training. With a smile, Stick answers, "No need to be so formal, Clint ... Just call me Matt."
There you have it -- confirmation that not only is Matt Murdock still alive, he is the one who trained Clint Barton to become a lethal blind archer. Believed dead by the reigning supervillains, it appears Murdock instead took refuge in the mountains to heal, and changed his identity. However, he didn't give up the fight.
With the introduction of Old Man Daredevil, we have a promising setup for a sequel to Old Man Hawkeye. What's more, the brief exchange between the monks gives us a hint as to the potential direction of a follow-up. When they first bring in Barton, they believe he could be a spy for the Hand, meaning that the villainous organization is still around in this dark reality.
We truly hope that Marvel will give us a sequel in which Old Men Daredevil and Hawkeye team up to fight the Hand in the Old Man Logan future. It already sounds like a winner.