WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Old Man Hawkeye #4 by Ethan Sacks and Marco Checchetto, in stores now.
From th start, we've known that Old Man Hawkeye was a story about revenge. As readers were thrust back into the brutal and desolate wastelands of the alternate reality made famous in Old Man Logan, it became clear that Clint Barton was on the hunt for very specific targets. While we've been along for the ride as Clint follows various breadcrumbs in order to enact his vengeance, there was an air of mystery surrounding the identity of those he was hunting down, and why.
Finally, with Issue #4, we come to learn exactly who he seeks to kill. And with this revelation, the full scope of the story stands revealed. This is not just a revenge story -- it's a story about betrayal, and of former allies turned enemies.
In Old Man Hawkeye #4, it's revealed that Clint isn't just after one person, but an entire group -- the people who used to call themselves the Thunderbolts. And the people Clint used to call friends.
In the previous issue, we saw Clint go up against Atlas, an old member of the Thunderbolts who, in this dark future, was making a living as a circus performer. There, we learned that Atlas had turned on Clint when the world went to hell, and that he had sided with the Red Skull and the rest of the union of villains. Clint put his former friend down, and it was on to his next target.
However, in issue #4 we learn that Atlas wasn't just a one-and-done case, because the next person Clint visits in Abe Jenkins, aka Beetle/MACH-X, another former member of the Thunderbolts. During a brief flashback sequence, we see Hawkeye and Black Widow discuss the villains-turned-heroes, with Natasha expressing her distrust of the team, considering that they are about to head into battle against the Red Skull and his allies.
"It wasn't that long ago that the Thunderbolts were fighting alongside the very villains that we're up against," she says. But Clint defends his friends. As someone who started out as a criminal, he truly believed they had reformed, and that they could be redeemed. Sadly, we now know that this trust was misplaced; in the end, the Thunderbolts betrayed the Avengers, a treachery that led to the downfall of the world's superheroes.
Clint makes quick work of his confrontation with Abe and, by issue's end, the villain once known as Beetle is dead, the second Thunderbolt to fall at the hands of Hawkeye. And Clint isn't done, as we already know he has his sights set on Melissa Gold, aka Songbird.
We aren't certain if Songbird is Clint's last target or if there will be more Thunderbolts for him to hunt down in the issues ahead. But what we can be certain of is that the Avenging Archer isn't in a forgiving mood. He doesn't come to talk -- he comes to end.