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Mockingbird Is Returned: An Interview With Jim McCann

Posted by Luke Brown On February - 26 - 2009

Bobbi Morse, or as you may know her, Mockingbird, is back. And it’s not some kind of crazy re-incarnation retcon. Spinning directly out of last year’s blockbuster event Secret Invasion, New Avengers: The Reunion plans to deal with Mockingbird’s return to the Marvel Universe. Series writer Jim McCann spoke with us about what readers can expect from the new book. Hit the jump to see just what he had to spill.

Most of you may recognize the name Jim McCann. He’s “that guy that’s always moderating the Marvel panels” at comic conventions. If you’ve ever sat in on a Marvel panel, it’s clear the man has fun with his job. But starting this March, McCann is hoping you’ll know him more for being a writer than for being the mighty Marvel MC. McCann will be teaming with former Catwoman artist David Lopez on New Avengers: The Reunion, which centers on Mockingbird’s triumphant return to the pages of Marvel comics.

We had a chance to talk with McCann about this book, and what exactly it means for the rest of the Marvel Universe now that Bobbi Morse is back.

Jim, you’re reintroducing Mockingbird into the current Marvel Universe. Bringing a character back from the dead (or in this case, everyone thinking she was dead, but really being held captive by Skrulls in outer space) is never an easy thing to do. Aside from this being your first major Marvel story, was there any added pressure considering how much of a cult character you were dealing with?

It’s very stressful, but very rewarding. And I honestly think the stress is more due to what I am putting on myself than trying to meet the fans’ expectations. I say that because I am a huge fan of hers (and the pairing of Clint Barton & Bobbi Morse), so I want to do right by these characters. She is an incredibly layered character with a rich & powerful history to capitalize on, but because she has been gone for so long, I have to also be able to introduce her as a new character to the readers just discovering her for the first time. Not an easy feat, but that is certainly the goal.

Sometimes as a long-time reader, I forget that people may not understand what a big deal the return of a character like Mockingbird is. When pulling moments from her history to incorporate into the series, did you rely more on your favorite Mockingbird stories, or were there specific moments that Marvel editorial wanted you to extrapolate upon?

It is hard to believe that with the exception of “appearances” in Hell, or whatever was down there, it’s been so long since we’ve seen Bobbi interacting with Clint and the rest of the Marvel U. As for the moments to pull, I took a look at the overall journey, both as individuals and a couple, and approached it like that. There are a few key moments that will be brought to the surface, but we’re keeping that organic to the story. This is where having an editor like Jeanine becomes invaluable.

Like you, I am a long-time fan of the character & the pairing and know them inside & out. Because of that, I have a tendency to assume everyone else does. Jeanine [Schaefer] is approaching this from a fresh pair of eyes and always keeping me focused on the message and the story of these two rather than a rehash and continuity lesson. She helps me strip away the temptation to look backwards and keeps me moving the two forward with their past very much a part of their present actions and feelings.

Now the Mockingbird I remember was a pretty strong woman who could handle her own. Now that she’s back, she’s looking for some answers. What can you tell us about what Bobbi’s looking for, and how she intends to find it?

Bobbi is looking to find her place in this world. Everything she knew when she was last on Earth is gone. The West Coast Avengers. The Avengers as anyone knew them (they’re fugitives now?!). And Clint isn’t even Hawkeye. Her friends and former teammates are scattered and the one thing she always thought she could fall back on – S.H.I.E.L.D. – has been dismantled. She got off one foreign world only to find her own home just as foreign. She is a stranger in a strange land yet again! But she is strong and resilient and is drawing up everything she’s gone through – from her PhD in Biology, to her spy training to being an Avenger – and adding to it the things she learned on the Skrull homeworld to really live up to the name “Mockingbird.” She’s going to be a super-spy, blending in and becoming what the situation calls for. She also has intel she brought back with her from the Skrull world she is keeping to herself that feeds directly into why she is back on Earth, and what she and Clint (without invitation) must do. She’s making her own way here, taking on her enemies before they can strike, and building a group that will back her up on that mission.

This book is going to be just as much about Mockingbird as it is about her relationship with Clint Barton. Clint’s been through quite a lot in recent years, and Bobbi’s return seems to have him in pretty high spirits. But this relationship isn’t going to go as smoothly as he hopes, is it?

Sorry, guys, this is not a Valentine ‘s Day romance novel. There are many ways to take the word “reunion” and not all of them end up in “Happily ever after” or “Till Death Do Us Part.” They have a lot of issues to go through and based on when she was abducted (which you’ll find out in the second issue), Bobbi has some questions that Clint already feels they’ve answered and dealt with. Clint has also had years to go over what went wrong with them and how would he do things differently. Now he could have his chance, if Mockingbird would stay in one place for 5 minutes! Or so he thinks.

You’ve called Clint and Bobbi the Mr. and Mrs. Smith of the Marvel U. Is that an analogy you’re looking to play off of as the series progresses?

Totally. But they are also like the Nick & Nora Charles (from the classic Thin Man films) of the Marvel U, as well as part Spencer Tracey & Katherine Hepburn. They have incredible chemistry, and their sparring matches, both physical and verbal, almost write themselves. And they are going into a high pressure situation, so the action level will be huge in this as well. She’s a spy, he’s an Avenger, and the odds are against them. I think they like it that way!

With New Avengers as part of the title, how closely is this book going to be tying into Dark Reign and the other Avenger books?

It’s very much tied in with New Avengers. Brian Bendis reads all of my scripts and knows where I am leaving the characters, so after the last issue comes out, that status quo will be reflected there. As for Dark Reign as a whole, with evil forces let loose and Norman Osborn in charge, the bad guys feel they have the freedom to do what they want and run wild. This follows one group – A.I.M. – as they try and establish themselves in the Dark Reign world. And with The Avengers & every other team having their hands full, help may be hard to come by if you get in over your head, like these two tend to do!

Series artist David Lopez draws some beautiful pages. He’s no stranger to strong female characters, either. How did his working on the book come about?

The world has uber-Editor Jeanine Schaefer to thank for that. She worked with him at the Distinguished Competition and brought him over here. It was his work with strong female leads and his ability to convey action that initially won me over, but he’s also really showing a beautiful side to the emotional beats. His art really gets across everything the characters are feeling. He also redesigned her new look and really nailed it for what the story called for and to update the character for today.

Obviously you can’t giveaway what happens during the mini-series, but I’m going to assume that Marvel didn’t bring Mockingbird back just to take her away again. Any chance you have more plans for Bobbi after Reunion is over?

Not gonna get a word out of me about the ending except that we’ve known the ending from the moment I pitched it. The two are both ongoing members in Brian’s New Avengers and that book will reflect their status quo when the mini wraps. As for my personal involvement in the future of these two, I love them and am having the time of my life. David Lopez & Jeanine and I are all on the same page and would love to follow up on their adventures, but we have to get through this mini first. But it all comes down to sales – these two started the West Coast Avengers in a 4-issue mini that was so popular, it kicked off an ongoing. If the fans react today the way they did back then, who knows, hopefully we’ll see it happen again! So pick up the book and tell your friends how awesome these two are!

I have to ask this one, final question. You have a pretty well-known love of Dazzler. Now that you’ve tackled Mockingbird, how much longer do we have to wait for a Jim McCann penned Dazzler tale?

Hopefully not long! There’s nothing in the works, but I’ve been thinking a lot about it and kicking some things around. I want it to come organically out of where she is now in the X-verse, but (pardon the pun) there will be a light at the end of the tunnel for those hoping to see me write Dazzler one day, I promise!

New Avengers: The Reunion #1 will be available at comic shops everywhere March 4th. Be sure to check it out. Our thanks to Jim McCann for taking time out of his super-busy schedule to do this interview.

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