A long time ago I tried to convince somebody that all good scholarship had to be derivative. The proto-academician was aghast that I would use such an adjective in a positive sense. Several beers and loose analogies later, she agreed with me that most historiographic work required the author treading down well established pathways, seldom redefining genre. However, in her estimation, the great works broke with convention and created new paradigms or redefined existing ones. I agreed with her, but stated such instances were rare and as a poor author it is logical to do something very well and progressive than something that is edgy and revolutionary. She laughed and challenged me to darts.
There is truth in both our claims.
When carried over to the artist realm, “derivative” is almost a death knell. In the comic book world, such a word is almost spat upon. This makes little sense especially if you are working for one of the big two with established continuities (though DC doesn’t seem to want to admit it any more). This is why when you find something that you can consider “unique” inside the bloated body of Marvel’s 616 you pay attention. But the opposite is true as well. Sometimes something can be very good, while doing something we've seen before.
Bobbi Morse has been one of those S.H.I.E.L.D. agents that seldom gets the recognition that a person of her power level deserves. She has the Super Soldier Serum and the Infinity Formula coursing through her veins. Steve Rodgers and Adam Warlock wish they could pull off being this awesome while wearing some kick ass boots. This potent cocktail has led the doctors at S.H.I.E.L.D. to question her health. Every week she has to undergo a standardized evaluation of possible new powers and mental stability. This is the story of those doctor visits.
What? That doesn’t sound compelling to you? I assure you that it is a fantastic read.
Here’s the thing about Chelsea Cain’s story. It may not be that original (I couldn’t help feel I was in for a PG rated John Flood) but it is so unexpected from S.H.E.I.L.D. stamped book that it felt fresh. Yes, I heard Haley Joel Osment whispering “I see dead people” in my head, but I knew that wasn’t the shtick I was being introduced to. The truth is that the New York Times Best Selling Author did little to explain what is truly going on with Bobbi, but the cliff hanger ending is done in such an amazing way that I didn’t care and I want to know more. My mind is filling in the intentional blanks, and I don’t care if they turn out to be wrong.
The artwork is the icing on more delicious icing (let’s be honest, people eat cake for the icing). I am in love with Kate Niemczyk art work. It is not overwrought, but neither is it as simplistic and suffer from the same limited color pallet that I complained about on the Powerman and Iron Fist comic I previously reviewed. It strikes the right tone in every panel, and that is not easy in today’s turn and burn production culture.
There is nothing not to like (deal with the double negative).
I do love having an all-female team working on a comic that has a female lead. The industry as a whole is beginning to enter a renaissance and this is largely due to the greater inclusion of non-male, non-white individuals on the creative end. This is clever writing and gorgeous art presented in a compelling fashion.
You, dear reader, should buy this book.
Mockingbird #1 released 3-9-16