Review: Mockingbird: I Can Explain

by GregFahlgren

Reviewing the first collection of Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk's MOCKINGBIRD.

Hello fellow comic book nerds and... well, we call you people that don’t read comics “normies”. It’s a compliment I assure you.

Anyway, today, it is my great pleasure to review a wonderful new collected edition of Mockingbird by Chelsea Cain, Kate Niemcyzyk, and Rachel Rosenburg. This collection was released the week after the book’s unfortunate cancellation, and in the wake of some real douchebag type behavior by the comic book misogynists, I decided to pick it up, partly to support of Chelsea and company, but more importantly because I have heard nothing but good things about this book.

Suffice to say, I was not disappointed, this collection FAR exceeding my expectations in every way imaginable. Let’s find out why, shall we?

Personnel

First off, let’s meet the creators.

Writer: Chelsea Cain

Artists: Kate Niemczyk & Ibrahim Moustafa

Colourist: Rachelle Rosenburg

Inker (issue#4): Sean Parsons

Letterer: Joe Caramagna

Cover Art: Joëlle Jones & Rachelle Rosenburg

Editor: Katie Kubert

Art

As always, let’s start with the art. This collection contains the first five issues of Mockingbird, but also the Mockingbird: SHIELD 50th Anniversary One Shot, and all six issues feature some of the best art you’re going to find in a comic book. Every page was just incredible, right down to even the smallest and seemingly insignificant details. Whether it was Hercules sitting in the doctor’s office with an ice pack on his head, or how ridiculous Spider-Man looked in a hospital gown, everything was just spectacular.

The action sequences were top notch, showcasing Bobbi Morse as one of Marvel’s most skilled hand to hand fighters and making her look good doing it. However, it was the quiet moments in the book that I appreciated the most, those small actions that made the characters whole, such as Bobbi touching Clint’s chest, or how annoyed Selene looked when Lance Hunter insulted the Hellfire club. It’s the little things like this that make good books great, and Niemczyk captured these moments perfectly.

Colourist Rachelle Rosenburg did an outstanding job as well. The book was bright, vibrant, and just a joy to look at. In every scene Roseburg added the dazzle to Niemczyk’s illustrations, the colours giving the book some serious life and bringing every illustration to its fullest potential. Letterer Joe Caramagna was in top form as well, his letters the final, perfect touch to make this book’s art sing.

Bottom line, the art for I Can Explain is worth the price of this book alone, and I hope to see more from every artist on the team in the future.

Story

The main story of I Can Explain is that Bobbi has been developing some pretty interesting powers as of late, slowly becoming something more than human. The first issue sets everything up, giving her different outfits and situations during her regular doctor’s appointments (that SHIELD has set up to keep an eye on her new “condition”), leaving us to wonder just what Bobbi has been up to.

As Bobbi navigates these tales, we get further clues as to what’s happening to her, leading to one hell of a finale in issue #5. Cain did a SUPERB job with this book, making us love Bobbi from the first moment we saw her. Each story, including the One-Shot at the end, showed us something different about Bobbi Morse. Whether it was her brains, her skill, her guile, or even her heart, the stories peeled the layers off Mockingbird one at a time to show us that she is one of Marvel’s best, even if she doesn’t get acknowledged for it.

As for the dialogue, it was fantastic throughout, Cain taking after good friends Brian Bendis and Kelly Sue DeConnick with her witty, off-colour sense of humour keeping me laughing the whole way through. Even the little things, like Black Widow looking at Bobbi in her dominatrix get-up (long story), and saying, “Nice boots,” made the book that much better, bringing a light-heartedness to the stories that there should be more of in comic books today.

The subtext was what really grabbed me however, writer Chelsea Cain pulls no punches examining the still omnipresent sexism in the world today, using Bobbi’s life to hammer home to the fact that despite all the progress society has made, it hasn’t been enough, and women are still considered second rate to men. Each story attacked this idea from another angle, from Bobbi saving Lance from the Hellfire Club (along with the Queen of England apparently), to how Bobbi helped save a young teenage mutant and her friends from getting killed by the authorities, and even to her getting to the bottom of what her weekly doctor visits are really about. Everything is put under the microscope, the book a feminist declaration that equality does NOT exist the way we want it to, and that the fight for it is far from over.

This was Cain’s first foray into the comic book medium, but if this book is any indication, then I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Final Verdict

I’m going to be honest in saying that I picked up this collection mainly because of the harsh and frankly disgusting treatment that Chelsea Cain received when Marvel announced Mockingbird was being cancelled. I felt it necessary to support an artist that didn’t deserve that kind of treatment. There is a small but vocal minority of comic book fandom that still thinks it’s the 1960s, and that women shouldn’t be involved in comic books. Disgusting I know, but they are remnants of a dying age, and I felt it a moral obligation to buy this book to show both them and Mrs Cain that women BELONG in comic books, more so than those jerks.

That being said, I wouldn’t have bought the book if I didn’t think I’d enjoy it, and MAN did I ever. Cain’s writing just superb, making me love Bobbi within the first few panels, and taking us on a wild and imaginative ride that helped redefine Mockingbird as a leading woman in Marvel. The art team was so good I had my breath taken away a few times, but it was the little things (seriously, why does Hercules have an ice pack on his head EVERY time?) that made the book truly shine.

More than that, the book shoots from the hip on so many troubling issues that face the world today. Women’s rights, racism, medical experimentation, relationships, and so much more were touched on, nothing off limits and everything examined under a microscope. Cain pulled no punches, confronting the misogyny that is STILL plaguing society today, and telling the world that she’s not going to take it, and neither will Bobbi Morse.

It’s a shame that this book was cancelled, but I cannot recommend picking up this collection fast enough. If you love comics, this is a book you’ll enjoy no matter who you are. But more importantly, if you like books that spit in the face of societal norms, and expose the dirty undercurrent of misogyny for the disgusting trope that it is, then you will LOVE this book. The next collection isn’t out until next year, but if it’s anywhere NEAR as good as this one, pre-order as soon as you can. Great comics deserve to be read, and Mockingbird is definitely a great comic that not only deserves to be read, it NEEDS to be read. Bottom line.

Check Out My Other Reviews

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Reviewing DC's Original Graphic Novel featuring two of the companies best Super Heroines.
A in depth review of Alex Ross's classic graphic novel, JUSTICE!
Reviewing for the Wolverine Classic and soon to be motion picture, Old Man Logan
An in depth review for one of comic books most revered titles.
Reviewing the start of Gail Simone’s amazing run on Red Sonja as she teams with a host of all-stars for a series of stories for everyone’s favourite She-Devil.
Review of the first collected edition for Gail Simone's critically acclaimed Red Sonja run.
Reviewing the second arc of Gail Simone's awesome run on Red Sonja!!
Updated: 12/06/2016, GregFahlgren
 
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