Mockingbird #2

Last month's "Mockingbird" #1 featured some clever plot construction that challenged readers to come back for issue #2 in order to see how the missing pieces fill in its deliberate narrative gaps -- but just how do those later issues hold up to the strange, off-beat and entertaining nature of the first? The answer arrives in "Mockingbird" #2, and it's a good one. Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk's follow-up issue is a lot of fun and shows us that a straightforward superhero story is just as compelling under this talented creative team's direction.

"Mockingbird" #2 takes our hero and plunges her into a rescue mission, where she attempts to retrieve Lance Hunter from the Hellfire Club, even as he's in the process of saving Queen Elizabeth II. The end result is a story that's as much Mockingbird and Lance fighting the Hellfire minions as each other. Cain takes the old Marvel UK character and gives him and Mockingbird a history together, one where they keep a tally on who has rescued who the most. It reminds me of Matt Fraction and David Aja's run on "Hawkeye," only with a touch more super-heroics. As someone who hasn't seen the small screen versions of these characters interact on "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.", I have to say I find Cain's depiction of the duo refreshing. It's as playful as it is adult, and Cain makes them both come across as capable despite the fact that Mockingbird is ultimately the lead; Lance never draws too much attention away from her.

Cain also doesn't lose track of what happened (and what will still happen) in "Mockingbird" #1. It's more than just an outfit and a corgi; we see one of the mysterious ping pong balls here, to say nothing of its effect on those around Mockingbird. It's an early piece of the overall puzzle of the first storyline; though it isn't enough to reveal everything, it snaps neatly into place. A puzzle only works if all of the pieces align, and so far Cain plays fair with her readers.

Niemczyk continues to deliver great looking art as well. She provides equal opportunities for good-looking characters; Mockingbird fits into the Hellfire Club fetish gear well, but Niemczyk also isn't afraid to draw Lance in even more revealing and fetishized clothing. It's the care in the art that makes it especially stand out, though; for instance, Mockingbird's mask is drawn so well that it seems realistic and works well as a disguise, and little details -- like the cracks in the tile floor and the drips of wax around the bases of the candles -- bring the setting to life. The two-page spread with Mockingbird taking out the Hellfire goons works particularly well; the afterimages of Mockingbird provide a perfect trail around the room that's easy to follow and also feels energetic and dynamic. This is one fine looking comic.

It's a relief and a joy to see that "Mockingbird" #2 works just as well as the first issue; Cain and Niemczyk can handle not only intricacies of an experimental storyline, but also a more straightforward one. This bodes well for the series as a whole and shows the creators' versatility. I was already firmly on board for more "Mockingbird" after the first issue, but don't be wary of the follow-up. "Mockingbird" #2 shows us that Cain and Niemczyk are a creative team to seek out. Well done.

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