Marvel Comics Marketing man Jim McCann's big writing break comes with two of his favorite characters, Hawkeye and Mockingbird. Following the events of "Secret Invasion" -- in which the long-thought-dead Mockingbird returned from Skrull abduction -- Clint Barton and Bobbi Morse-Barton are no longer the happily married couple they once were. Both have been "dead" and come back, but Bobbi's post-traumatic stress and years spent captured have changed her. Now, in McCann and David Lopez & Alvaro Lopez's "New Avengers: The Reunion" #1, she and Clint find themselves butting heads, while getting caught up in an adventure to stop Hydra and who knows who else.
McCann is very generous in his script samples, making this an excellent COMMENTARY TRACK for aspiring writers. Of course, unlike film, there is no universal cript standard in comics, but McCann's work should give you an idea of how one can be done.
There will be SPOILERS in this COMMENTARY TRACK, including the final page. You're officially warned.
Jim McCann: I wrote the recap page after [editor] Jeanine Schaefer and I brainstormed about how to do a unique recap. We knew that some people wouldn't have read the eight-page prologue in "Dark Reign: New Nation" (for some reason, people thought that book was a preview of the first eight pages of each book, when it was actually five prologue stories that set up their series). Doc Samson was seen in "Avengers: The Initiative" as leading a support group to abductees of the Skrulls. Jeanine and I thought it would be cool to tie it into that continuity. It's a confidential file that Samson kept based on his sessions with Bobbi, but we blacked out some of the info as those are plot points to be revealed in upcoming issues.
JM: I'd like to point out the awesome job David did in using reflections to show Bobbi's history. She is seen in her old SHIELD uniform, her West Coast Avengers uniform, and then the Skrull replacement in the mirror. They are visual metaphors reemphasizing what Bobbi is going through in her mind, "reflecting" on her past, if you will.
CBR: Is it tough laying out a move like that for the artist? Or did Lopez figure it out? Sleight of hand works great in the movies, but in comics? It's a tricky beast.
JM: David did a great job interpreting the script and making it feel far more fluid and tense than some others may have done. Below is what the script asked for and I think he delivered above and beyond that:
1 - She is exiting the room, back into the hospital hallway in a full lab coat that covers her entire costume. The patient is gone. A doctor is walking by.
2 - She bumps into the doctor, one hand near his badge.
3 - Small inset panel - she has his card.
4 - She is at a door. There is a keycard entrance you must swipe to get in. This is clearly marked as a restricted area. Next to it is another door, cracked open (we'll be going in that room on the next page). She's swiping the card. The light on the keycard machine is red.
5 - ECU on the keycard machine. There is 2 lights, one over the other. The top on is red and lit.
6 - Stat panel, she swipes the card again.
7 - Stat panel 5, light is still red.
8 - Stat panel 6, swiping the card, but a hand grabs her wrist!
9 - Vertical panel, widescreen across the bottom of the page, as she is pulled into the open door next to the restricted access room. All we see of her "captor" is his arm.
CBR: The Hawkeye/Cap relationship is a strong one, and nicely transitions to the new Cap. How much of this is establishing that relationship for later in the series, and how much is in here for exposition purposes?
JM: Honestly, it is a combination of those, plus an extension of the longstanding relationship Clint Barton has with the character of Cap. He's at his wit's end and the one person he would go to is Cap, but Steve is gone. So now there's this guy who looks younger than Clint, who operates differently, and who is rather distant and removed. It pushes all the wrong buttons in Clint, revealing his attitude toward Bucky as Cap but, more importantly, what the thought of losing Bobbi again would do to him. He's striking out, and Bucky seems to be an easy target, until he flips it on Clint and turns out to be a worthy successor to Steve. This is the first step in acknowledging some respect Clint has for Bucky as Cap as well as setting up Clint's mindset in his relationship with Bobbi for the series.
Page 5, panel 5: Close on Clint, through clenched teeth. He's not liking that he's being challenged. Bucky's getting under his skin, tapping those old issues Clint had with Cap back in the day.
Page 8, panel 4: Big panel. Bucky is open, honest. Very Captain America-like. This is his answer to Clint's earlier accusations. Clint is stonefaced.
CBR: We see our first Skrull Homeworld flashback. Warped art, red coloring. Is this what your script called for?
JM: This is a very important aspect to the series. Bobbi is experiencing PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder], and this is the first time in this issue we see it. (We saw three others in the Prologue.) These aren't throw-aways. They are actual glimpses into her mind, her memory and perception. From the script:
2 - Post-Trauma Flashback - Alarms blaring as Mockingbird is in a clearly alien environment. See the Jimmy Cheung issues of New Avengers for what Skrull labs look like. She is on the run.
CBR: And I'm with Mockingbird. Cell phones are too complex.
JM: It's funny, because that was something that Jeanine mentioned we should play with more. Little ways to make Bobbi feel like she's out of touch, that the world kept going without her. An earlier example (that has actually riled up a few people, funny enough) is Clint's "Grey's Anatomy" reference. They seem to think that it means Clint is a big fan of the show. My intent there was more to give a reference that everyone would know, and "Grey's" is a show that everyone knows whether they watch it or not. Everyone knows "McDreamy." Given their location (a hospital on-call room), it was an appropriate reference and showed that Bobbi has missed a lot, everything from hit shows to iPhones.
CBR: You're asking your readers to gobble up whole chunks of another language. What was your thinking here? Why have it be in a foreign language? Why not translate it in captions or with the old school "<
JM: I wanted to go for a moment where it was Clint's turn to feel lost. I wanted the reader to be in Clint's shoes, to discover things as he did. That meant not translating the text. David Lopez did the Spanish translation for us. (Fun fact: he lives in Zaragoza, Spain, the location the bomb in the story is headed.)
(Translation - Dr. Ramos, I am Dr. Williams, of the Scaggs Institute.)
(Translation - Ah, Dr. Williams. Yes. We were expecting you earlier.)
3 - Clint inches closer as the two converse in Spanish. He's rather baffled. Ramos is sorry that "Dr. Williams" has missed the shipment. Mockingbird as "Dr. Willaims" is trying to hide her anger.
When did you learn SPANISH?!
(Translation - I'm sorry, but the compound has already left.)
(Translation - I understand. That is unfortunate. Can tell me you where is it now?)
(Translation - I'm afraid it is already --)
4 - Ramos notices Clint, who looks surprised that anyone is paying attention to him. Ramos is pointing at Clint while yelling at Mockingbird. Mockingbird looks worried.
(Translation - Who is this? There are no students allowed in this are.)
(Translation - Show me your credentials!)
(Translation - Sir. Doctor, please. There is no need to be alarmed).
5 - Ramos is yelling for the guards as he starts to run. Bobbi is pulling something out of her bag as she turns back to Clint, who is thoroughly confused. (Any background characters should look alarmed as well)
(Translation - Guards! Intruders!)
CBR: Was this dramatic two page spread the part of the issue you were most looking forward to seeing drawn? What was your initial reaction to it?
JM: David really worked on this page to make it perfect. There were a few different layouts and then he got this one and we all knew it was perfect. This was a very important shot because this is what we were promising the readers. This is Clint and Bobbi reunited at last, fighting together. Below is the description from the script of this spread:
Here you go, the money shot! A massive 2-page splash. Bobbi's lab coat is on the ground now as she stands, fully revealed in her new look, complete with goggles. Her had is outstretched, catching the returning battlestave. Clint is in his Ronin robe, no mask, one set of nunchucks in hand.
Mockingbird and Ronin, together, back-to-back as A.I.M. agents in their yellow, bee-keeper outfits come in from everywhere. The two top floors, every exit, doorway, all over. They are REALLY outnumbered. And really calm, ready for it.
CBR: Is Mockingbird's next door neighbor The Punisher? This seems like one of his haunts. . .
JM: Well, as she says, every good spy has a back up. This is getting her back to her spy roots. I will say, though, that I asked David to go crazy on this armory and fill it with fun stuff and he really did! So much so that I used the pencils from these last pages to script the first seven pages of the next issue, using as many of the "toys" he gave me (and Bobbi) in drawing this setting.
1 - Large panel, lights on, revealing a kick-ass armory. This is a big storage unit, about 300 square feet of artillery and spy stuff. Weapons of all kinds here. She is a marksman, so anything that could be used in that line. Body armor, wigs, everything she'd need for disguises. Bows, crossbows, spy gadgets. A row of Clint's old trick arrows (see earlier reference for the different types). Have fun here. There should also be guns on the wall that is opposite the arrows.
JM: More flashbacks . You will see these again! Very important page, as is what Bobbi says on this page and page 21.
JM: If you notice the choreography of Bobbi and Clint in the last panels of 21, Bobbi is at one end, near the guns -- lethal weapons. Clint's arrows are kept on the other side of the room. Is that subconscious of Bobbi? Is it Bobbi grabbing the gun that pushes Clint to take his action?
I have to say, this was the geek out moment for me. Getting to bring back trick arrows! Clint's been able to pick up a bow and arrow here and there lately, but he hasn't used his old arsenal of trick arrows in years. What's worth asking is, if Bobbi doesn't want Clint here with her, why does she have his old weapons here? Hmmm....
Answers to come, but one thing is for sure, no one gets Clint like Bobbi does, and she brings out in him the things no one else has been able to in years.
1 - Clint moves fast, grabbing a bow and a trick arrow.
2 - Extreme close on Clint firing a shot AT BOBBI!
3 - Rest of the page. Clint is standing, bow in hand. Bobbi is caught in a net arrow, pinning her to the wall! And she is PISSED!!!
Sorry, Mock, you bring out the Hawkeye in me.
And now I'M bringing in the Avengers.
4 - Extreme close, sliver panel on Bobbi's eyes, ready to KILL him!
Cap? It's Ronin. I've got her.
NEXT ISSUE TEASE: Faces from the past, a foe uncovered, the return of a familiar name, the moment Mockingbird was abducted revealed, and things are worse than anyone expected.
"New Avengers: The Reunion" #2 goes on sale April 1 from Marvel Comics.