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Mockingbird #1

Writer Chelsea Cain
Artist Kate Niemczyk
Color Artist Rachelle Rosenberg
Marvel Comics

I don’t watch Agents Of SHIELD yet (I know, it’s on my To-Do List, I’m not too good for TV or anything), so I don’t yet know why so many people are so into Mockingbird this year. But I am happy about it. Mockingbird was one of my favorite parts of the West Coast Avengers when I started reading comic books, and her return has been so delightfully convoluted, and I love the version of her we’re getting in Chelsea Cain’s new series.

So. Mockingbird. Let’s see, she was a SHIELD agent (Agent 19) and back in the 80s she fought Hawkeye and fell in love with him and got married on a whim and was a big part of the West Coast Avengers but then she and Hawkeye broke up and she came back to serve him divorce papers but got kidnapped by the devil and burned to death. Only she didn’t really burn to death, that was an alien pretending to be her, so she was able to eventually escape and rejoin the heroes. And Hawkeye was all excited to have his wife back, but unfortunately, nope, this version wanted to divorce him, too. And so since returning from alien captivity, Bobbi Morse has been enjoying the superspy game. She doesn’t have powers, but she’s a great fighter and makes lots of bad jokes (how she got the code name). Consider yourself caught up.

This book follows her through a series of medical checkups. It doesn’t sound riveting – she goes in to SHIELD’s clinic a few times and gets bloodwork and fills out forms and occasionally does parapsychological testing proving she’s not psychic but does seem to have the ability to mentally manipulate ping pong balls. And one time, she bleeds out of her ear. And sometimes she hallucinates elderly zombies. And usually she makes great jokes, like asking her new nurse, “If I’m good, can I get a medical marijuana card from you?” And that’s pretty much all you get from this comic.

And it’s all you need from a comic, I promise. It’s this tense little mystery. Every doctor visit, there are subtle changes – what are they checking for? What is with this new ping-pong ball power? The writer leaves a note on the back page that this is a puzzle box: the next three issues will explain why she is wearing the ridiculous costumes to each of her appointments and what is happening with her symptoms between visits, and the fifth issue picks up where this one leaves off. Normally that could sound pretentious, but after a book this funny, a book this empowering, a book that has made clinic paperwork into a series of witty zingers, a book where Tony Stark is in a clinic waiting room tensely reviewing a Gonorrhea pamphlet… This is a book I want to revisit after I have the gaps filled in. This is a book that has suffered not one bit by moving most of the action sequences to the next three issues. This is a book that earns my trust in the writer and art team.

Marvel is flush with amazing women headlining books these days. Squirrel Girl, Black Widow, Spider-Woman, Spider-Gwen, Silk… I encourage you to make room for Mockingbird in your Ultimate Comics pull list. She’s using the superhero and spy genres to tell the funniest mystery on the stands. And she’s selling the crap out of the Agents Of SHIELD show, if TV Bobbi is anything like the Bobbi we get here.
-MATT CONNER for Ultimate Comics