Battles between superheroes and villains are almost always a big deal, but when heroes fight each other, it's an entirely different situation. The last time the heroes of the Marvel Universe clashed, the nature of costumed heroics changed drastically, and in "Civil War II," another ideological schism has arisen that is pitting friend against friend. All of which means, in order to escape the chaos and process her thoughts on how it's impacted her life and the life of her ex-husband, Hawkeye, Mockingbird is going to have to travel to a pretty remote location.
That's just what she does as writer Chelsea Cain and artist Kate Niemczyk kicks off a new arc that finds the hero/S.H.I.E.L.D. agent trying to get away from the fallout of the death of the Hulk as the hands of her ex. Unfortunately for her, that escape comes via a cruise ship of superhero cosplayers that's drifted into the Bermuda Triangle...
CBR News: On the final page of "Mockingbird" #5, Bobbi chose not to use an antiviral cure to kill off the super-powered virus living inside her. What inspired this idea? And are you interested in exploring aspects of the virus, like it's intelligence level and powers?
Chelsea Cain: I'm a hypochondriac, so I love viruses. I am what you might call a virus enthusiast. Once, for a minute when I was in fourth grade, a doctor thought I had the measles. Man, I was so excited. I made big "quarantined" signs and taped them on the front door. I told everyone. Then it turned out that I just had flea bites. So that was disappointing.
Mutation is such a part of the Marvel mythology, right? And humans aren't the only creatures who mutate. Viruses mutate, too; a lot more efficiently than humans do. So if we accept the fact that human mutations can give a person laser vision, then why can't a virus have powers? Why can't a virus evolve, become sentient, alive, date Marvel Girl? Not really. Marvel Girl would never date a virus.
Mostly, I just wanted to follow up on the fact that Nick Fury administered Super Solider Serum and Infinity Formula to Bobbi a few years ago, and then -- nothing happened. Big fat nada. Granted, I was the only person on the planet on tenterhooks wondering if Bobbi would develop powers, but it seemed worth exploring. And it seemed like something S.H.I.E.L.D. would probably want to stay on top of, too. Which brought me to the idea of the S.H.I.E.L.D. medical clinic, where all the superheroes go to renew their Prozac and birth control prescriptions. I found the idea of all the heroes sitting around in the waiting room to that clinic immensely amusing.
In "Mockingbird" #6, you move from an arc about the virus to something else that's bound to have emotional resonance for Bobbi: the "Civil War II" conflict. Can you talk about some of the things she'll be wrestling with in this arc? Will we see her thoughts on things like preemptive crime and what happened to Clint Barton?
Barton is being kind of hypocritical, right? He and Bobbi got divorced because he thought she'd crossed a line when she let Phantom Rider fall off a cliff. She didn't kill the Phantom Rider; she just didn't help him in that split second when he was dangling from the cliff. She wasn't thinking very clearly what with having been drugged and raped by The Phantom Rider. But Clint! Was he supportive? No. He got all sanctimonious. "I don't condone death as the answer for anything," he said. "Avengers don't kill," he said. That guy. Then he puts an arrow through Banner's skull and calls it justifiable? Of course, Bobbi is much more forgiving than I am.
While we're on the topic of Clint I wanted to discuss Bobbi's feelings towards him versus her feelings for Lance Hunter, especially since Hunter figures into this storyline. In the first arc, you showed Bobbi on missions where she rescued both Clint and Hunter. In those issues, it felt like Bobbi was a little more protective of Clint than she was of Hunter.
That is a very astute observation. Bobbi is more easily irritated by Hunter. Clint and Bobbi have such a history together, and her feelings for him are more complicated. She has great affection for Hunter. She loves Clint. But -- and I make this joke in issue 6 -- I think that Bobbi thinks of Hunter and Clint as one person. They are almost indistinguishable to her. As Bobbi says, it's like "Fight Club." The question is, who's Tyler Durden: Hunter or Clint?
Your new story finds Bobbi and Hunter on a cruise ship full of cosplayers. How does that effect their initial dynamic in the story? What's it like for them being part of that type of environment?
Another interesting aspect of this story is the fact that it's set in the Bermuda Triangle.
I have many friends who have gone on the JoCo Nerd Cruise, a cruise I very much want to go on myself. [COUGH COUGH] Because if I ever go on a cruise ship, I want to only be with people just like me; people who stay inside and play games. The nerd cruise seemed like a great location for a story, any story, but a superhero comic book in particular.
I am a cruel mistress, and the idea of Bobbi trying to get out of town, away from her ex-husband's trial, only to find herself on a cruise ship full of Hulk and Hawkeye cosplayers, just cracked me up. I really love the intersection of the Marvel Universe and real life. Whether it's Bobbi at what amounts to superhero-Kaiser, or Bobbi on the nerd cruise -- those are the stories I want to read, and write. I also had fun working some nerd cruise regulars into the plot, including The Doubleclicks, Paul & Storm, John Roderick, and Keith Baker, as well as my husband, Marc Mohan. Also, some of those people will be accused of murder. (They all had to sign very complicated Marvel likeness release forms, so look for the John Roderick vs. The Green Goblin series, coming soon.)
I have great affection for the Bermuda Triangle. As a kid in the '80s, the Triangle was a huge presence in pop culture. Every TV show had an episode that took place in the Bermuda Triangle. Every third issue of "TIME" had a cover with some new theory on it. The world was so much more interesting before snopes.com.
I believed in the triangle -- or, rather, I believed in the mystery of it. Not to get all sentimental, but I think that's one of the narratives we've lost with the presence of the Internet -- mystery, for the sake of it. We used to have these crazy myths that we figured we'd never know the answer to, not really. (What happened to the Titanic? Who was D.B. Cooper? What was behind the Bermuda Triangle?) Now, if you google The Bermuda Triangle, it's debunked immediately. They found the Titanic. The F.B.I. closed the case on D.B. Cooper this year, because everyone figures he's dead. How boring is that? Basically, I'm hoping to inspire some paranoid conspiracy thinking in the next generation.
Also, I loved the idea of all the craziness of the Bermuda Triangle within the context of the Marvel Universe (ghost pirates and aliens and giant whirlpools aren't really that fantastic in a world with Galactus -- they're kind of taken in stride). And of course, Bobbi is a scientist -- someone who has done the Google search -- and I thought it would be interesting to see her having to confront something she couldn't explain scientifically.
What can you tell us about the antagonist Bobbi is up against in this arc?
Let's just say that the villain is someone from Bobbi's past, and that she has always been a sucker for cowboys.
I've really grown to love Kate Niemczyk's style, and if this past arc was any indication, she can handle pretty much any type of story or characters you throw at her.
Kate is amazing, isn't she? She works so hard. And you're so right; she is up to any challenge. She is absolutely on board for this arc -- and her work on it is amazing, by the way. We had Ibrahim Moustafa as a guest artist on #5 because Kate was having some medical issues (nothing serious, but everyone wanted to give her a few minutes to recover), so we gave her an issue off. Ibrahim was terrific, and it was fun to work with a guest artist. But no one can draw Bobbi like Kate. And frankly, Kate gets me, creatively, like no one else. It's hard to imagine writing a comic book for any other artist.
What can you tell us about your plans for "Mockingbird" once the "Civil War II" arc wraps up?
Â Jerry Garcia has a quote about the Grateful Dead.Â "We're like licorice," he said. "Not everybody likes licorice, but the people who like licorice really like licorice." People who buy and read "Mockingbird" seem to really like it, but not a lot of people buy and read "Mockingbird." She is a C-list female character. I get it. It's a rough sell. And at some point, Marvel is going to do the math.
That said, and I want to be really clear about this, Marvel has been incredibly supportive of me, to a person. I have loved everyone I've worked with there, every editor and assistant editor and colorist and bullpen artist and letterer, etc. And they all seem to really love "Mockingbird."
You broke into comics almost a year ago because of your love for the medium. How's it been working in the industry?
They have offered me many other titles to write. They are actively looking for ways to keep me working in comics. But I am choosy. I want to be part of the solution. I want to tell challenging, funny, smart stories, with strong, difficult women. So if there are any "Mockingbird" readers out there, if you could just get 1000 of your friends to buy a copy, that would be terrific. Thank you. You are all strong-jawed and intelligent.Â
Kelly Sue DeConnick is a good friend of mine. She's a terrific writer and a feminist and a champion of women in the comics industry. Before I started writing comics, I sometimes would listen to her talk (forgive me Kelly Sue), and I would think: "Relax a little, lady. It's not that bad! Women are plenty in charge!" Working in comics for a minute has changed my tune. This is a funny industry full of incredibly smart creators and incredibly smart readers. Yet, it's like one of those tents you see at R.E.I. that is so, so, so tiny, like toddler size, and then you realize it's just a model for the big tent you can buy.
There is so much energy and creativity and talent in comics. So this is what we're going to do. Draw a comic. Write a comic. Color a comic. Letter a comic. Ink a comic. Edit a comic. You are the future. That sounds stupid, but it's true. You are the future of comics. Make something. Make something fantastic. Because that tent? It's bigger on the inside. And there's a wine bar.