Mockingbird Vol. 1: I Can Explain - Kate Niemczyk, Chelsea Cain

This was so much fun! But I'll warn you that some of the rest of this review gets pretty feminist and a little rantish at times. Okay, mostly. the things is that it was so much but it was not intersectional and I'll get into that in a minute.


I walked into this one knowing that it had been touted as feminist and having read the 50th Anniversary edition already. If you have not read the S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary edition, go ahead and check out all five titles, four of which are amazing female leads with the only male lead among them being Nick Fury. And his is pretty awesome. I  reviewed them together here. If you plan on ready those AND this volume, I'll include that her anniversary edition is also at the back of this volume, so you know. Also, I knew that  the series had been discontinued already, which is a bummer. It was actually the discontinue notice that brought the series to my attention because it was not yet one when the anniversary editions were released. In fact, it was the overwhelming success of her title there that caused them to create this in the first place, according to Marvel. That said, there are only two volumes of this awesome comic. It was an article announcing it's cancellation that brought the comic to my attention in the first place.

It's not linked because attempts to locate this article again proved fruitless and I tried to scroll through the #standwithchelseacain on Twitter to find the source of the cancellation again, but no. I spent twenty minutes looking for it in that feed amidst all the old tweets and blog posts and articles denouncing the harassment that Cain received after the cancellation. It breaks my heart that I found this after the fact, not that I think I could have done anything about it on my own. It just may have been nice to read it with the feeling that the comic would go on. Anyway, I won't go on about what the cancellation may mean or why because I can't find it.

In my search for  the article, I did come across a lot of praise and criticism of the comic itself. And I totally  get it. Personally, I loved it, including the feminist agenda. Due to the climate of feminism in the world right now and particularly when the comic started last year, it seemed fitting that at least one of Marvel's female leads be an outspoken feminist who comments on the world this way. I understand some people complaining that it was this very thing that made it a bad comic in their opinions, but for those of us who often feel the way that Mockingbird does in this comic, it was a value add. It was made for us.

Yes, it was made for everyone, as all comics are....

Okay, really though, it was made for those of us who feel the way that Mockingbird does. Those of us who try hard despite what people think we are capable of, who work in male dominated fields, who work to dispel the idea that women can't do whatever it is that we want,  who want more, and who aren't afraid to try for it but also those who are afraid because she was a model for the way. I know, fictional role models have it way easier than real ones because they can be orchestrated to win all the time or to only lose small, but you get the idea. It needs to start somewhere.

Anyway, whatever the reason was that this series was cancelled, I'm glad for the books we got. This was super fun for me. I was among those that wanted to see more after the 50th Anniversary edition and then was totally hooked at #1 when she kept coming in to the medical lab with strange and awesome outfits.

I especially loved #3 and the girl because yes, girl problems. As I've learned in my own working life, there are work problems, girl work problems and guy work problems and then it goes on in other intersectional ways. What's the difference? Those things that are universal and those things that are pushed on us by our social locations while we're still at work. For my specific purposes here, it's that the guys that I work with do not have a problem with people asking them for extra favors and making faces at them in plea or thinking poorly of them for saying no. It takes a pretty exceptionally gifted guy to be asked to bring food for the group while we can easily fall into the trap of being asked to bring food just because. Or why we don't. These things have happened to me over the last ten years. Seriously. So, acknowledging these issues on the Marvel world was entertaining for me.

And then, there is the obvious problem here. Despite all the beautiousness that is the feminist agenda of the volume, it is a distinctly white feminist agenda. No one of color comes into the comic in a big way until she runs into Spider-Man, aka Miles Morales. There's a nurse in the first one, a few of the girls in the bubble and then a few sprinkled into her school in the third one, a few other heroes in the background of a few panes, a couple in the "other things that people thought might work" page and Spidey in the fifth one. That's it. That's also ridiculous. While the series has fun, it does not make special effort for inclusiveness. Yeah, I get that it has a white female protagonist and has the potential to be inherently feminist, but there could have been things done to promote inclusiveness in comics for all of feminism's issues, like being intersectional in its feminism. There could have been heroes of color in the waiting room instead of Tony Stark and Natasha Romanov. There could have been some mention of it in the Y-chromosome diatribe, some snarky little comment that points that she had that going for her or that she didn't have to fight racism too along the way. But no. Not a peep. Not even one of the Y-chromosomed males were of color. So, feminist, yes; intersectional, not in this volume. And you know what they say about feminism that isn't intersectional, right?

Still, I have high hopes for Riri Williams and World of Wakanda. To be clear, the hopes are high, not the expectations. The first of issue of Riri Williams' Invincible Iron Man comes out next weekend!!! Get it from Amazon here. It's just under $3 for the issue and available for purchase already. Support the creation of new diverse superheroes!

The first issue of World of Wakanda came out last week and is also available at Amazon already for about $5. I don't know if you recall, but this one has a story written by Bad Feminist Roxane Gay and I believe it's the origin story of the Midnight Angels. In this case, you would be supporting the first ever black female comic writer for Marvel and an amazing voice in feminism and getting into what is probably a totally awesome story.