Longtime fans of the Avenging couple known as Hawkeye and Mockingbird are well aware of their turbulent relationship. The costumed duo fell in love and got married very quickly, and ever since then it seems they've constantly been in danger of becoming the Marvel Universe's most tragic couple. Immediately after getting hitched, the two moved to the West Coast where they established the now defunct West Coast branch of the Avengers. While on a West Coast Avengers mission that sent the team back in time to the Old West, Mockingbird AKA Bobbi Morse was abducted and sexually assaulted by the vigilante known as the Phantom Rider, leading to her allowing the masked rider to fall to his death. Initially, Hawkeye AKA Clint Barton didn't believe his bride's claims, causing a huge rift in their marriage. Clint and Bobbi were eventually able to reconcile, but shortly after doing so, Bobbi was killed while trying to protect her husband from the demonic entity known as Mephisto. At least that's what Clint - and the rest of the Marvel Universe - believed…
As it turns out, the Mockingbird that died was actually a Skrull doppelganger. The real Mockingbird had been abducted by the alien shapeshifters months before her apparent death, and in the aftermath of their Secret Invasion, she was returned to Earth. Hawkeye was overjoyed to be reunited with his wife, but Mockingbird was not as happy to see him. The Skrulls had used an agent disguised as Hawkeye to terrorize Mockingbird during her imprisonment, and on top of that, she had been on her way to serve her husband with divorce papers when she was abducted. These revelations came to light during the Dark Reign of Norman Osborn, but the two also went on a number of adventures during that time period, both in the ongoing "New Avengers" series and the "New Avengers: The Reunion" miniseries. These exploits reminded them why they fell in love in the first place.
Now the Dark Reign is over and a Heroic Age has dawned on the Marvel U. Hawkeye and Mockingbird aren't married, but they are dating again, with the bow slinging hero working for his now ex-wife as an agent of her new World Counterterrorist Agency. It seems like the couple finally have a shot at happiness. Appearances can be deceiving, though. In the sold out "Hawkeye and Mockingbird" #1 writer Jim McCann and artist David Lopez (the creative team behind "New Avengers: The Reunion) showed that Hawkeye and Mockingbird's relationship is in for perhaps its greatest test yet. The issue showed that Bobbi Morse has been keeping several secrets from her ex-husband and current paramour and employee. It also set the stage for a team up between two of Hawkeye and Mockingbird's most bitter foes: the assassin known as Crossfire and the Phantom Rider. CBR News spoke with McCann about the revelations of "Hawkeye and Mockingbird" #1 and his plans for the series.
CBR News: Jim, there are several big reveals in "Hawkeye and Mockingbird" #1, but let's start with the first and in my opinion the biggest shocker. Towards the ends there, it sounds like Bobbi tells Dominic Fortune, one of her agents, to actually sell some weapons! Did I understand that right? How does she morally justify something like that when she's running an organization called the World Counterterrorism Agency? Isn't that enabling the very people she's supposed to be fighting?
Jim McCann: Yep, you caught that correctly. It does seem like Mockingbird's outfit is operating in a very grey area, doesn't it? And she wants to keep Hawkeye from finding out. As for her justifications, you will get that very soon. "Enabling" implies she's just putting them back on the streets, though, which I assure she and Dominic are not. But you do see now why I've been saying Dom is a character to watch. Well, this is just the beginning. He plays a pivotal role here. And the arms dealing...that's going to come around. Like Clint says in his narration, these are not the Avengers.
In light of this revelation, how would you describe Bobbi's emotional state? She seems like she feels lost and alone and she also seems like she's shutting Clint out because of that.
Bobbi's been experiencing many different feelings since she got back. She's been playing a push and pull emotional game with Clint from the moment she arrived back on Earth. In "New Avengers," she seemed happiest in action, and the same holds true here. She's almost an adrenaline junkie. It helps take her mind off dealing with everything else. To her, she is a stranger in a strange land - the world moved on without her. So she's setting up her own operations, her own rules and living life on her terms. She and Clint aren't married, so if he doesn't like it, he can leave. That said, deep down, she knows there's a part of her that needs him. She is lost and he is a part of her that serves as an anchor. But she's terrified to let him in completely, to trust him, or anyone, right now with everything.
The events of this issue have me wondering, do you think Bobbi ever got a chance to affectively deal with what happened between her and the Phantom Rider? Or has the appearance of one of the Rider's descendants, Jamie Slade, opened old wounds?
I think at the time she thought she dealt with it, but not really. She kept it from Clint - to her it was a secret, something she feared. When it came out, it ended their relationship because of how they failed to deal with it as a couple. She had an issue ("West Coast Avengers" #41, I believe) where she confronted Lincoln's spirit and to her, she had some sense of closure, but again, not so much with Hawkeye. Now, with Jaime Slade appearing, the Phantom Rider looms over the couple again, just as Bobbi is starting to get her life together and right when she and Clint are at a crucial stage in their relationship. They are keeping secrets from each other and now, bam! In walks the one thing that tore them apart before. It's got them both rattled. Also, no matter how much you think you've dealt with it internally and psychologically, when you come face to face with someone or something that reminds you of such a traumatic event as sexual assault, you're going to be triggered and it's going to shake you up. It's how you react to it later that shows you how well or effective your coping mechanisms truly are.
The second revelation, of course, is that Bobbi's mother believes that she's been dead for eight years. So is everything we thought we knew about Mockingbird wrong, or will we see some events from her past that explain what exactly is going on?
Can I get away with just saying you won't have long to wait? Issue 2 will reveal a lot of this...and open up new secrets.
The third major revelation in "Hawkeye and Mockingbird" #1 is that Jaime Slade is now the new Phantom Rider. What can you tell us about her motivations for adopting the identity of the Rider? Is she angry in a homicidal way at what happened between Lincoln Slade, the original Phantom Rider, and Mockingbird, or is something more sinister going on? Say, perhaps, possession?
The story of the Phantom Rider, the legacy of the character and how it plays in three different generations - Lincoln, Hamilton (current Phantom Rider) and Jaime - is a great deal of this arc. That's one of the many reasons this arc is called "Ghosts." You will discover a lot about the new Phantom Rider and how the character is connected to all who have called themselves that name in the next two issues.
In addition to introducing several interesting reveals, you also introduced some supporting characters, including Dominic Fortune who you mentioned at the beginning of this interview. I have to ask, is he as nasty as he seems, or is he more of a complex character with some actual good in him? And do you plan on exploring his connection to the original Dominic Fortune?
Is Dom nasty? I love him. He is one of my favorite characters to write. He's part early-Avengers-days Clint Barton, part Han Solo (in the first "Star Wars" - scoundrel) and part...well, I can't tell you that last part without spoiling a secret about him. And it's a secret he wants to keep from everyone! He has connections with a lot of characters, but you'll have to keep reading to find out with whom and why he is running with this particular outfit.
Is there anything else you can tell us about the other prominent members of the World Counterterrorism Agency: Twitchy, London and Bangs? Are they new characters created by you, or are they already established characters?
All of these are characters I created for the team. They share the same experience in that they are former S.H.I.E.L.D. members who now work for Bobbi. Each has a specialty and you will see each of them get their moments to shine. They also have histories within the Marvel U that I'll reveal as the time and story allows.
Issue #1 ended with Crossfire and the new Phantom Rider joining forces. Any plot hints or teases as to what to expect from the remainder of this arc? Thematically speaking, what is this story ultimately about?
Well, as I said before, it's called "Ghosts," and that is taken in many different ways. It applies to every single main character in their own way. This arc sets up the entire run and has ramifications that will last for long, long times for these characters. It will open many doors, reveal many secrets, and set up mysteries to come.
To me, this is an action book on two levels - the spy action adventure and the actions characters take. I don't think I can say this enough - this is going to be a wild ride in so many ways. There will be some knee-jerk reactions some fans will have along the way & I know it's because you won't see the whole story until it has played out, but know that I'm not going to do anything for shock value or to portray anyone as weak or a plot-device. There is a reason for each person's decision, even if they make bad ones. This book is about actions & consequences, good and ill. I hope you stay with it, even through the bumpy parts, because it's not always going to be hearts and flowers, nor will it always be ghosts of the past. Ultimately, this is a book about two heroes - Hawkeye and Mockingbird - and what makes these human beings heroes and what price and what rewards come with being a hero. That's what the "Heroic Age" is for me.
David Lopez's art on "New Avengers: The Reunion" was good, but it seems like with "Hawkeye and Mockingbird" #1, it's gotten even better. He did a great job with all the characters in the book, not just the title ones. What can people expect from his art on the remainder of this arc?
Honestly, I don't know how he does it, but every page gets better and better. Issue two is almost like a Hitchcockian suspense thriller, and required a lot of emotion. And it's raining the entire time. It's more cerebral in tone and pacing than the first issue's over-the-top action (that's coming back in the rest of the arc), but that didn't slow him down. David turned in a book that builds, page after page, breaking your heart, making you cheer, biting your nails, reeling in horror, until the final page which is chilling and yet beautiful. It's art. He is turning in amazing art. We have a great relationship and I simply can't imagine doing this book with anyone else. I ask him all the time what he wants to draw and try to put that in there, especially since I ask him to draw some pretty crazy or emotional stuff, and he handles it all with ease and grace.
Alvaro Lopez, our inker, needs to be commended as well for bringing out the subtle shadows and depth David is giving (plus the detailed backgrounds and the aforementioned rain in issue # 2). And colorist Nathan Fairbarin is new to the team as of the ongoing, but he is doing a remarkable job at giving this the layers it needs in hues, finding the right palate for each scene to create just the right atmosphere. I am so lucky to have this art team!
How many parts is "Ghosts" and how far along do you have this series planned out? Do you have a definite idea on where you're taking Clint and Bobbi after this story?
"Ghosts" is 5 parts with an aftermath issue, and then we have something huge planned. As for the series, in preparation for an upcoming Avengers creator & editorial retreat I was asked to turn in my outline though issue 18, so I have those issues pretty well plotted out. Hawkeye & Mockingbird are characters I could see myself writing for years and not running out of ideas for them, so I'm on it for as long as Marvel will let me!
Speaking of further plans for the series, it seems like with "Hawkeye and Mockingbird," "Black Widow" and "Secret Warriors" al on Marvel's current publishing slate, a spy corner of the Marvel Universe is starting to take shape. Once "Hawkeye and Mockingbird" gets going, would you want to interact and maybe crossover with either of these titles? And will we some of the familiar spy elements of the Marvel U in this series like A.I.M. and Hydra?
Those sound like great ideas. Fans, would you like to see any of these happen? Nick Fury is in issue #2. Beyond that, I can't say or else my editor Bill Rosemann will tape my mouth shut.