Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Irony of Mockingbird #8 & The Stupidity of Anti-Feminists

I've never thought much of Mockingbird. What thoughts I've had about Bobbi Morse have not progressed much beyond "Black Canary rip-off".

While that's a little unfair to the character - who existed for nearly a decade in a variety of roles before she became Mockingbird - the historical record is clear on this point. Mockingbird was paired up with Hawkeye for the first time in his 1983 solo mini-series. This occurred several months after Green Arrow (famously paired with Black Canary for over a decade at that point) appeared in his own 1983 solo mini-series. And Mark Gruenwald - who wrote the Hawkeye mini-series - was known for taking inspiration from the Distinguished Competition. (There's a reason comic critics call the original Squadron Supreme one of the best JLA Elseworlds stories ever.)

The sad truth is that Mockingbird's writers did little to distinguish her as a unique character. Her most notable story-line before her death involved her being drugged, brainwashed and raped by The Phantom Rider and Hawkeye divorcing her for allowing her rapist to fall to his death, but really because he felt that she'd cheated on him. This is because Clint Barton is the worst, but I digress.

Take that general sense that there's no real character there apart from Mrs. Hawkeye. Throw in my general antipathy towards Marvel Comics at present as well as anything tied into Civil War II (The Search For More Money!) and the odds of my ever picking up an issue of Mockingbird were slim to none.

Then this cover came out and all Holy Hell broke loose.

Faster than you could say "two tubby Tribbles in trilbies", a certain contingent of fandom arrived to take back comics from The Feminist Menace. These attacks drove Mockingbird writer Chelsea Cain from Twitter once she got sick of dealing with sorting through hate speech to get to important messages. Why they went after the writer of this book rather than the artist who drew this cover I have no idea. Then again, this contingent of fandom - well-represented by this one fellow who claimed that "comics are the last safe space for men" - are not noted for their reasoning skills.

Thankfully, their efforts at harassment have backfired horribly. Because if there's one thing the majority of comic readers can't stand regardless of political credo, socioeconomic status or religious affiliation, it's bullies. As a result, the first TP collection of the the Mockingbird series is topping the Amazon sales charts, with the print book at #1 and the Kindle edition at #2. Vol. 2 of the series is at #8 on the charts, despite not being due out until April 2017.

In all this hullabaloo over a cover, I hadn't heard anyone say anything about the content of the book. I sought out a copy of Mockingbird #8 to see how the book's interior compared to the exterior. It turns out you can judge a book by its cover and had any of the people going after Chelsea Cain bothered to read this book before complaining about it, they would have been pissed off royally.

The basic plot of Mockingbird #8 is that Bobbi is on a Comic Convention cruise and is being harassed by the ghost of her aforementioned rapist, The Phantom Rider. He's trying to torment her with news that Clint Barton is on trial for murdering Bruce Banner and trying to win her back with "sweet talk" that will sound familiar to any woman who ever rejected a "nice guy". Thankfully, Bobbi is not without friends and everyone on the cruise - from the superstar nerds to the most humble of cosplayers - are united in fighting "The Phantom" menace.

Let us pause to consider that for a moment. A bunch of anti-Feminists lost their minds over the cover of a book - not knowing the story inside the book is about fandom standing up against harassment - and wound up inspiring a mass uprising of fandom against harassment. The irony is so thick you could slap a trilby on it and call it a Men's Rights Activist.

Ignoring all irony and my instant attraction to anything involving a cameo by The Doubleclicks, Mockingbird #8 is a damn fine comic. The script by Chelsea Cain is full of wit and humor. The artwork by Kate Niemczyk, Rachelle Rosenberg and Joëlle Jones looks fantastic. In fact, I was so impressed by this issue, I went and bought the rest of the series to date on Comixology.

So do I still think Mockingbird still a Black Canary rip-off?  Yeah, I do. But I enjoyed reading this book a lot more than I did the last Black Canary book. And if a dyed-in-the-wool Dinah Lance fan like me can say that with a straight face, there's no reason for you not to pick up Mockingbird Vol. 1 yourself.

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