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A Hell of a Past – Mockingbird

by  in Comic News Comment

This is the first in a series (of indefinite length and regularity) of pieces examining the hilariously convoluted history of certain comic book characters.

Our inaugural edition focuses on the long, strange trip that has been Bobbi “Mockingbird” Morse’s 40-year comic book history, from the pages of 1971’s Astonishing Tales #6 to the present day (she made her live action TV debut this week on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)

Enjoy!

NOTE: THIS IS JUST ABOUT HER FICTIONAL BIOGRAPHY. THERE ARE SOME INTERESTING STORIES INVOLVING HER BEHIND-THE-SCENES DEVELOPMENT THAT I’LL PROBABLY ADDRESS IN THE FUTURE, MOST LIKELY IN THE PAGES OF COMIC BOOK LEGENDS REVEALED. SO IF YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT THOSE STORIES, WAIT UNTIL THAT TIME TO DO SO.

Barbara “Bobbi” Morse made her first appearance in the Ka-Zar feature in Astonishing Tales #6, by Gerry Conway, Barry Windsor-Smith and Bill Everett (quite an awesome creative team for your first appearance, huh?). See if you can recognize her…



Yes, when Bobbi first showed up, she had psychic powers!!!

This was Gerry Conway’s last issue of Astonishing Tales, though, so next issue Roy Thomas took over.

Roy continued the plot a bit (no psychic powers mentioned)…


Then the next issue, we finally meet her in the Savage Land, only now she has abruptly changed her hair color and gained a fiancee out of nowhere…





For the next few issues, Barbara and Paul are caught up in this bizarre storyline involving British refugees continuing to fight World War II in the Savage Land against German refugees.

Clearly, you could tell that Thomas and co-writer Gary Friedrich had NO CLUE why Barbara was coming to see Ka-Zar. Watch Paul be a total jerk to Barbara in this issue that was just a framing sequence for Ka-Zar’s origin…




Barbara was strictly “damsel in distress” all of these issues.

Finally, in issue #12, out of NOWHERE, we learn Barbara’s motivations…


Yes, they searched for something for her to do, and they came up with “tie it into Man-Thing!”

By the way, do note that this does not fit her early appearances at ALL.

Okay, so now she is a biologist working with the government.

In a flashback showing how she was compelled to get help (Ka-Zar, though? Huh?), she is also strictly a damsel-in-distress…


But then our next twist, Paul is a bad guy!!!



Things get bad for Paul as Man-Thing destroys the installation…


This gives us our NEXT twist, though. Barbara is not just a biologist, she is a biologist working for SHIELD!


Go to the next page to see what happens next now that Barbara is a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, including the first appearance of her Bobbi nickname and the first appearance of her in costume!

Now Friedrich is in charge of the book, and he has Ka-Zar go to New York City with Barbara as his guide…


and she gains a familiar nickname…


Bobbi becomes his main love interest in the series…



But as the series goes by, we also re-establish her credentials as a SHIELD agent…


Friedrich also took this time to finally bring Bobbi’s initial story to a final, convoluted end. Remember how Friedrich tied her in with Man-Thing and that whole project she was working on? Well, it turned out that it all led to this nutjob A.I.M. scientist recreating the Super Soldier Serum (Bobbi finally got to kick a little ass in this story)…




Victorius is killed during the story and the whole Super Soldier Serum plot was wrapped up.

Ka-Zar got his own series right after this, and with it a new love interest, Shanna the She-Devil. Bobbi shows up in the book working with the couple, but you could tell that she was feeling blue over being a clear second in the race for Ka-Zar’s heart.

A few years later, in 1976’s Marvel Super-Action #1, Friedrich brought Bobbi back, but now as the costumed adventurer known as the Huntress!




She then tracks one of the SHIELD agents from the encounter to his apartment and reveals herself…


And we get her origin…


Things tragically go poorly on the mission…


Go to the next page to see the debut of Mockingbird!

Bobbi was not seen for another four years before Mark Gruenwald brought her back as a character named Mockingbird. Steven Grant wrote her introduction in the pages of Marvel Team-Up #95….





Naturally, she is still fighting SHIELD corruption and she seems to have proven her case…


She had a quick cameo in Contest of Champions #1…


And next shows up in the Hawkeye mini-series from 1983, written and drawn by Gruenwald…



The pair become close, but are captured by the villainous Crossfire, who turns them against each other…



Hawkeye figures out a way to stop the control by bursting his eardrums with a supersonic arrowhead. Eventually, he defeats Mockingbird (as he is thinking clearly, giving him a slight edge)…


He is now basically deaf, though, which almost causes a problem…



As plenty of folks noticed, Gruenwald was doing a Black Canary/Green Arrow riff here with Mockingbird and Hawkeye (this was only a couple of years before Gruenwald did his most famous work, Squadron Supreme, which was entirely about analogues to DC superheroes).

Now married, the pair are given their own Avengers team to lead…


Go to the next page to see where the marriage of Hawkeye and Mockingbird began to crumble!

Things are smooth until about two years into the series (which was written by Steve Englehart and drawn by Al Milgrom and Joe Sinnott) they are trapped in the past and are separated. The villainous Phantom Rider uses a drug to brainwash Bobbi into loving him…



Eventually freed of his control, Mockingbird confronts him on a cliffside…



She keeps this a secret from Clint, but eventually the ghost of the Phantom Rider tells Hawkeye (because the Phantom Rider is a total jerk). Clint does not take it well…




Bobbi leaves the West Coast Avengers, only to be pulled back in when she is duped into helping to kidnap the Vision!



She tried to break free once she realized their evil plan, but she was captured. She went to warn the Avengers, but arrived too late. Soon afterwards, Hawkeye left the Avengers and Mockingbird tracked him down. They tried to give it another shot, using the Great Lakes Avengers as their sort of bonding experiment…


It did not work and they split up once again.

Eventually, though, the pair got back together towards the tail-end of the Avengers West Coast run.


Tragically, Bobbi died only issues later…



A few years later, Kurt Busiek and George Perez had her show up as part of a group of dead Avengers. Before they were returned to their final resting place, Mockingbird tried to get a message to Hawkeye…


No one is able to get the message to Hawkeye before he leaves the Avengers for the Thunderbolts. Eventually someone gets into contact with him and he presumes Mockingbird was asking him to save her from Mephisto’s realm. He manages to make his way there and the Thunderbolts heroically follow in Thunderbolts Annual 2000 by Fabian Nicieza and Norm Breyfogle. Mephisto has someone in his thrall. The Thunderbolts rescue her, presuming her to be Mockingbird but instead they discover that it is Hellcat!




Mockingbird is still dead then.

Eight years later, though, in Secret Invasion #8 (by Brian Michael Bendis and Leinil Francis Yu), it turns out that the Mockingbird who died was a Skrull!!


However, it turns out that the Skrull replaced her BEFORE they reconciled! So she never intended to get back together with Hawkeye!



They still decide to date and they were both members of the New Avengers. Mockingbird remained on the team when Hawkeye went back to the newly-reformed “main” Avengers team.


On the next page, see what has happened to Mockingbird since, including her most recent spotlight story where a pair of writers attempted to tie back into her original appearances!

While on the New Avengers team she was essentially fatally wounded during a battle (Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato were the creative team on the book at this point – look how stunning that full-page splash is by Deodato)…



I say “essentially” because the Avengers were able to save her using a unique formula that was a mixture of Captain America’s Super-Soldier Serum and Nick Fury’s Infinity Formula…



The end result was that Mockingbird was now basically a Super Soldier, as she showed during Fear Itself, as she could now had super-enhanced strength and agility…


When the New Avengers broke up, Bobbi went back to working for S.H.I.E.L.D. in the pages of the re-booted Secret Avengers (by Nick Spencer and Luke Ross)…


While on an undercover mission working for A.I.M. (she was there to monitor Taskmaster, who had been sent to infiltrate the hierarchy of A.I.M. as a double agent), though, Mockingbird is revealed to be a double agent working for A.I.M. Scientist Supreme, Andrew Forson, the head of the A.I.M. splinter group, the Cult of Entropy (Ales Kot joined the book as co-writer with Spencer at this point, along with artist Butch Guice)…

More is explained in the next issue…




Kot and Spencer go ALL the way back and tie in her psychic powers and the whole convoluted Victorius storyline by saying that Victorius was the original head of the Cult of Entropy and Bobbi had gone undercover with S.H.I.E.L.D. specifically to get rid of Victorius to give Andrew Forson control of the group. She has created “Bobbi” as a split personality, which is also perhaps why she acted so differently when Ka-Zar first saw her, she was exhibiting her original personality then.

Her “good” self struggles for control over her “bad” self when Forson decides he has to get rid of her. He has her shot, but she cleverly sneaks the previously shown camouflage technology onto another person, who gets shot in her place.

She tracks him down and they have quite a confrontation…



At the end of that series of Secret Avengers, Mockingbird splits from S.H.I.E.L.D.. She is now, as she notes, a “free agent.” That’s where she currently remains.


With her now appearing on the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show, though, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before she becomes a cast member in a new comic book series! But for now, let’s just appreciate her crazy comic book “life.”

Thanks to commenter Huey S. for recommending that I feature Mockingbird for a different blog feature, which inspired me to create this feature.