In Marvel’s 1983 “Hawkeye” miniseries, the titular character, AKA Clint Barton, met Bobbi Morse, AKA Mockingbird, and together they battled the villainous Crossfire. The ending of the series was like the first line of the Johnny Cash song “Jackson” because the couple did indeed get married in a fever, one that lasted several years, until Hawkeye and Mockingbird’s team of West Coast Avengers ran afoul of the old west hero known as the Phantom Rider, who became obsessed with Mockingbird. The western hero abducted and raped the superhero by using drugs and brainwashing to convince her that she loved him. When Mockingbird broke free of the Rider’s control, she attacked him. The fight ended with the Rider hanging from a ledge and then tumbling to his death because Mockingbird refused to help him. When she tried to explain what happened to Hawkeye, he didn’t believe her. This lead to a rift between husband and wife, almost destroying their marriage. Hawkeye and Mockingbird later reconcile, though soon Mockingbird sacrificed her life to save Hawkeye’s.
At least, that’s what Hawkeye and the rest of the world believed. At the end of “Secret Invasion,” Clint Barton discovered that his wife was very much alive, and in the 2009 miniseries “New Avengers: The Reunion” by writer Jim McCann and artist David Lopez, Bobbi revealed to her husband that they never actually did reconcile. In fact, she was on her way to deliver divorce papers to him when she was abducted and replaced by an agent of the shapeshifting Skrull Empire. Over the course of the miniseries, the duo battled terrorists and discovered that they still cared for each other, leading them to continue their personal relationship and their professional one as well, with Hawkeye becoming an operative of Mockingbird’s newly established World Counterterrorism Agency.
This June, McCann and Lopez reunite to bring readers new tales of Clint Barton and Bobbi Morse with the ongoing series “Hawkeye & Mockingbird.” CBR News spoke with them about the series, the first arc of which pits the title characters against two vengeful foes.
CBR News: Jim and David, “Hawkeye & Mockingbird” is your first ongoing series for Marvel. How does it feel?
Jim McCann: Shhh. Please don’t let me wake up. This is the best dream I have ever had, and now it’s reality. I am the luckiest man alive to be given my favorite couple of all time as my first ongoing! I thought I got my chance with “The Reunion,” but this – I honestly can’t express it in words, but I hope it’ll come across in the pages.
David Lopez: It feels great. When I was a kid I mostly read Marvel, so it’s like coming back home. I feel very motivated. The readers of Marvel don’t know my work very much yet, and it’s like if I were a newcomer again. I hope I’ll do fine. I count on the people here. They’re all very supporting – and crazy-cool too.
Clint and Bobbi have gone through a lot since their last adventure together in “New Avengers: The Reunion.” How would you describe the dynamic between them when the new series begins?
JM: Excited. Renewed. Terrified. Hawkeye is back and with his bow and arrows, in the costume and identity he was created for. Mockingbird is back on Earth and struggling to find her place in a world that thought she was dead and moved on without her. Together, they are at a place they’ve never been, emotionally and in their “work” lives. They’re together, but not married. They’re trying to see if they can work as a couple. Then there’s the fact that technically Hawkeye is working for Mockingbird now in the WCA (World Counterterrorism Agency) in addition to his life with the Avengers, which Mockingbird is no longer a member of (thanks to events in “Siege”).
DL: What I like about these characters is the contrast. They’re in the same situations, but they’re totally different. He’s bright, a super hero, an all time Avenger and she’s been always hiding things and doing black-ops. And she’s – well she’s the boss now and she can be really mean and dangerous.â€¨â€¨You know – they couldn’t have a relationship in real life. They love each other, but they are opposites – Then comes the time of kicking ass and fighting bad guys, and jumping from high speed bikes and then they feel like dancing. That’s how they find romance. All this is very cool for me to draw. They’re always moving – when not physically, then emotionally.
Speaking of Clint Barton’s return to the Hawkeye identity, David, in your mind, is Clint a different character now that he’s back in his original costume? Or does he still have the same personality and body language?
DL: When he was Ronin he was more physical, heavier. As a martial artist, he needed to get the strength from Earth (that’s Kung Fu, no joke!), he was close range deadly, but he was trying to be somebody else. He was hiding his face, playing somebody darker – he was fixing something in his life. In “The Reunion,” he wasn’t using the mask. And then, the bow comes back, his girl comes back and that’s a point of no return from Ronin to Hawkeye.â€¨â€¨Now he’s back in all his “blue and purple glory.” Now he’s lighter and brighter – he’s who he’s always been, more mature, more responsible, but he’s back – the guy that never misses his shot, and now he’s stronger. He’s the ultimate fighter. He’s got the close combat and the long distance and he’s got Bobbi as his perfect pair.
When “Hawkeye and Mockingbird” begins, are the title characters and their allies still racing around the globe on the trail of some of the Marvel U’s most wanted super terrorists?
JM: That they are! You catch a glimpse of the bigger picture in the eight page prologue in “Enter the Heroic Age”- which won’t be reprinted in the first issue. Those stories are all-new and set up a great batch of “Heroic Age” books. As for “Hawkeye & Mockingbird,” all the cards are laid out in the first issue. You get the reveal of the big bads, the secrets both Hawkeye & Mockingbird are keeping from each other, the mission of this team and what direction our core duo are heading in.
This book is going to be a journey for them in many ways. They are a roller-coaster-ride full of emotional baggage and psychological minefields. The perfect pair where nothing could go wrong, right? They are supported by Bobbi’s group of ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. agents now in the WCA, as well as some familiar faces popping in and out, on a mission to use the intel that Bobbi brought back with her from the Skrull world to take down global super terrorists. Unfortunately, in this first arc, someone else is gunning for them.
Let’s talk about that first arc – what can you tell us about its plot and themes? It sounds like this is a action/espionage, revenge thriller with hints of the supernatural.
JM: I’d say you nailed it! That is the plot for sure, without giving too much away, and the themes are those of responsibility, trust, and overcoming devastating blows. That’s what the entire run of the book will be about as we take these two, their allies and their villains, on a ride around the world at break-neck speed. These two won’t get a chance to catch their breath, and I hope the readers won’t either.
It appears that Clint and Bobbi’s adversaries for this first arc are the characters that helped bring them together and tear them apart, Crossfire and the Phantom Rider. Jim, in your mind what makes these characters compelling foils for Clint and Bobbi? Is it simply their shared histories, or is there something more?
JM: Their history is what makes them the perfect place to start, but it’s the actions they take from the first issue that prove they are the perfect foils. Yes, this is that Phantom Rider, so already we’re dealing with the one and only character that has successfully destroyed Hawkeye and Mockingbird in the past. Now, paired with Crossfire – a man who has come so close, and you have the perfect combination, a sick & twisted reflection of Hawkeye & Mockingbird. And a duo that will stop at nothing to destroy everything Hawkeye & Mockingbird have built, no matter the cost.
David, What’s your perspective on Crossfire and the Phantom Rider ? Which of their qualities do you really want to capture in your art?
DL:Crossfire is death in red. He’s cold and violent, a deadly killer with a wicked brain.. He won’t hesitate and has no moral compass to stop him. He’s the dark side of Hawkeye, what Clint would be if he didn’t have his moral code. For him, I think that the most important thing is his gaze (with the good eye), how he sees the world as targets, cold as a sniper. Physically he’s got less volume, he’s slimmer that Clint, but he’s more defined, like a feline – with lots of guns, knives, dirty tricks and no restraints.â€¨â€¨The Phantom Rider is the Achilles heel of Bobbi, it’s something that causes her guilt, that moves her deepest fears and regrets, and the new Phantom will use that against her. Visually, it’s a ghost from the wild west – ain’t that cool!?
What can you share about the supporting cast of “Hawkeye & Mockingbird?”
JM: The supporting cast ranges from some really fun new characters in the WCA who all have backgrounds in the Marvel U, which you will discover as the series goes along. There’s also a new member to the team – Dominic Fortune. He plays a vital role to the entire story, as you’ll see. Then there are the Avengers. You see Clint and Steve [Rogers] in the first issue together, you’ll see Tigra and War Machine and a whole lot of other people. Hawkeye and Mockingbird are beloved, both in the real world and the Marvel U, so there are a lot of people who are keeping an eye on what they are doing.
While we’re on the topic of characters, David, In “New Avengers: The Reunion,” you redesigned Mockingbird’s costume. Will you be doing any more character redesigns for this series?
DL: There’s some – I’ve got guys from the past that have been actualized. There’s always some adaptation from one artist to another when working on superhero books – but – yes, I think we can tell that (the guys at Marvel would kill me if I gave you details or showed what we’ve been doing…I’m scared of them!!!)
What can you tell us about the pacing and tone of the first story in “Hawkeye & Mockingbird?” It sounds as though, given that it involves two characters with personal grudges against the title characters, things could get very dark.
JM:The tone can get very dark, very quickly. But there has to be a beacon of hope, a sense that this is it – they >have to not only survive this, but stop it for good, together. They never defeated Phantom Rider together, and they’ve never faced Crossfire the way he is here. He’s using his ex-CIA training to gather info, build a power base and strike hard and fast. He’s our Jack Bauer without any restraint. Mockingbird is faced with her worst nightmare, and Hawkeye, a man who finally has everything back, is facing losing it all again. But there has to be a ray of hope in there somewhere, they just have to find it
Let’s talk a little more about the visuals of this series. David, What can you tell us about the artistic style you’re employing for “Hawkeye and Mockingbird?” Will it be similar to what we saw from you on “New Avengers: The Reunion,” or will you employ some new stylistic and artistic techniques?
DL: It’s an evolution. I’ve been sketching for months and I’ve got a clearer feel of the mood we want for the book. Jim is giving me plenty of cool things to draw. We’ve got so much gasoline, powder, trick arrows, staff action and destruction of property that we’re going to need new insurance – and at the same time, it’s emotionally intense. It’s a very solid book, balanced.â€¨â€¨I tell you this because for me is very important to have a clear idea of what the book is. To transport that to the reader, the art must be the vehicle to tell the story, not an end in itself. It serves the story – all I have to do is adapt my work to fit that, and then it comes naturally. “The Reunion” was like a prologue to this. We had the chance to work together and know what we wanted. The rest comes natural.
Any hints or teases about where you’re interested in taking “Hawkeye and Mockingbird after this first story?
JM: As far as I can, literally and figuratively. I don’t really see this as a series of arcs, but one long journey. There are things seeded in the first 3 issues that will be picked up on and revealed over the course of the next 1-2 years. And then there are surprises. This book will be filled with reunions (I know a little about those.) and losses, deaths and rebirths, arrows and battlestaves. And maybe an evil robot or two if you’re lucky (or in Hawkeye & Mockingbird’s case, unlucky!)
DL: When “New Avengers: The Reunion” ended, Jim and I (well, everybody) was dying for an ongoing; that couple kicks ass. So we kept talking of what we’d like to do if it ever happened, what we liked in a superherospyromancefullthrottleactionbook. We were working, cooking it – until we got the green light and then it was like a hurricane, not a brainstorm. Jim is always telling me what we’re going to do, what’s going to happen. It’s like if we had one year of books done but nothing materialized – until now!
And let me add my sincere recommendation to possible readers – this book is a must have. It starts from anew with characters you already love. It’s got a bunch of backup characters that are instant favorites and some of the craziest action scenes you’ll find in a comic book. In all this, I’m sincere, I’m not trying to sell books here, I just want to share what I like.
JM:This is a book that celebrates the best and worst of these two characters. We’re not shying away from their flaws. They have a tumultuous past together, a tendency to rush in half-cocked, and get in way over their heads. They’re also at their best when they are together. That’s what makes them so interesting.
And speaking of being at one’s best when paired with the right person, I am beyond thrilled that David is back and we’re doing this together. He is about to become a household name with this book. And the rest of the team, starting with editor Bill Rosemann on down, is really giving our best to bring you the “Hawkeye & Mockingbird” book you’ve been asking for. This couldn’t have been possible without the support the fans gave “The Reunion,” so thank you all so much. Now let’s get on this crazy ride. It’s hopefully going to be a long one!”