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So Mockingbird Let Phantom Rider Die For No Reason?

by  in CBR Exclusives, Comics, Comic News Comment
So Mockingbird Let Phantom Rider Die For No Reason?

In Remember to Forget, we spotlight comic book stories that I wish we could just forget.

Today, we look at an odd retcon in the final issue of the recent “Mockingbird” ongoing series.

It all started in “West Coast Avengers” #18 (by Steve Englehart, Al Milgrom and Joe Sinnott), when the West Coast Avengers were traveling through time. They were in the Old West when they got ready to leave and suddenly one of the Western heroes, the Phantom Rider (who had seemed a bit too obsessed with Mockingbird in their short time together) abruptly stopped Mockingbird from traveling with the rest of her Avengers teammates!!

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The next issue, the Phantom Rider then drugs Mockingbird to clear out her memories and make her fall in love with him…

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It works really well…

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It continues to work well the next issue…

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In the next issue, though, the other Western heroes conspired to break the effects of the drugs on Mockingbird, and when they did, well, she did not take it well…

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This storyline came to a climax in “West Coast Avengers” #23, when Mockingbird tracked Phantom Rider down and then let him die…

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Eventually, Hawkeye found out (by the Phantom Rider himself, who was now a ghost in modern times) that Mockingbird let Phantom Rider die and Hawkeye was a total jerk about it. Not “my wife was practically raped by some dude!” but “my wife let a guy die!” So they decided to divorce.

So anyhow, in the final issue of the current “Mockingbird” ongoing series (by Chelsea Cain, Kate Niemczyk and Rachel Rosenberg), the Phantom Rider showed up again to annoy Mockingbird (he’s done that a few times since Mockingbird was revealed to be alive during “Secret Invasion”) and there is a major retcon to the previous storyline.

First up, Phantom Rider is described by Mockingbird as her “ex”…

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And we learn why later in the issue…

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So…huh? What a strange retcon that is. I completely understand wanting to get away from the whole “letting the guy who essentially raped me die which led to my husband wanting to divorce me” part of Mockingbird’s past. It’s a weird part of her past, to be sure. But you do that by just not getting into it, not by actively bringing the topic back up again. Rather than moving past this story, this is entirely PREDICATED on that old story. It’s just altering it to make it so that Mockingbird actively cheated on Hawkeye rather than being drugged and making it so that she let Phantom Rider die because…ummm…anyone? You can debate about whether it’s a good idea to erase Mockingbird’s past as a victim period (there’s an argument to be made that by saying that it is “ridiculous” to believe that Mockingbird could ever do something against her will then you are implying that if someone else WERE drugged into doing something against their will, then clearly they just weren’t strong enough to avoid it – which is SLIGHTLY like victim-blaming, but I think that’s a bit of a stretch as an argument, so I don’t particularly buy it), but whether that’s a good idea or not, altering the story so that she just let the Phantom Rider die for the heck of it is just not a good idea. BEST case scenario, it was a pointless alteration.

Chelsea Cain’s “Mockingbird” ongoing series has been a blast and I’m sorry to see it go, so one “out there” decision issue at the end isn’t a big deal, but I really don’t think that this was a good decision and I suspect that future writers will just ignore this change in the future.

If you have a suggestion for a future “Remember to Forget”, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com

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