From Marvel Comics. Published in 2010.
Credits: Script – Jim McCann. Pencils – David Lopez. Inks – Alvaro Lopez. Colors – Daniele Rudoni with Marco Patrucco. Letters – Dave Lanphear. Cover Art – Joe Chen.
Originally published as New Avengers: Reunion issues 1-4 and Dark Reign: New Nation.
I know this came out 10 years ago, but 10 years ago I was in a different place and couldn’t buy fresh comics. Which is a shame. Because this graphic novel features the reunion of Hawkeye and Mockingbird. Can they go back to how things used to be? Is that even possible? Is that even wanted?
Many years ago in comics, Hawkeye was the leader for the West Coast Avengers. He met a former SHIELD agent turned super hero, Mockingbird. They fell in love, had adventures, and were torn apart by a villain from the past. Just as the couple was about to reunite, Mockingbird died in battle. Hawkeye was lost, he was devastated, he kept experiencing loss. As time went on he also died, came back, and lost the Hawkeye name as well. Imagine his surprise when, now as Ronin, he was one of many Marvel heroes who discover the Skrulls have infiltrated their ranks and kidnapped their friends and teammates. Even more shocking was when a spaceship full of “missing” heroes returns – including Mockingbird. The woman he saw die was a Skrull. His wife is still alive. But she has been through just as much pain and trauma as he has.
That’s just the catch up! This series finds Mockingbird trying to go back to something that’s familiar. That thing is being a SHIELD agent. Nothing else makes sense anymore, but espionage is a constant. She doesn’t feel like a wife, she doesn’t feel like an Avenger, she’s not even sure who she is anymore. But she knows she can be a spy and fight the good fight.
But does she fight it alone? Clint – as Hawkeye or Ronin – is chasing after Mockingbird throughout the story. He wants to go back to their married life. He never stopped loving her. Through deaths, battles, other relationships, and more – no one else has his heart. While they battle villains they also battle their own feelings and trauma. This is a story of heroes who have to be strong both physically and mentally.
What I loved were all the call backs to the West Coast Avengers series. That was “my” Avengers team. I rose and fell with the events of those issues. Including the team split. Including the couple fighting. Including her death. And in both the writing and the art that time is brought back to explain the motivations of today.
As much as those 80’s issues pulled at my feelings, that’s nothing compared to what Reunion does. Everything. Every part of Hawkeye and Mockingbird’s separation has to be reevaluated. What conversations, what decisions, which emotions were the true Mockingbird, and which were the Skrull’s? It’s taking a story I knew forward and backwards 30 years ago and tearing it apart – but still retaining the meaning.
I love the art retaining every bit of classic West Coast style but changing and updating the current story. While there are still truths within every way our heroes are portrayed they also have different costumes, different hair. Changes that show the evolution. But are these current versions of both characters ones that the other could still fall in love with? Can the audience still love them?
Deep down the essence of both still rings true. This felt like the same characters, even with a different writer and different artist than 30 years ago. This was as real as a fantasy world of aliens kidnapping capes can be. The fighting, the team work, the bickering, the subtle signs of love. My only disappointment is not having every single issue of this comic to add on to my complete West Coast Avengers run. And I’m saying this as someone who bought multiple copies of the later Hawkeye and Mockingbird series from the Heroic Age because my letter is in issue one.
Argue all you want about comics changing but if there can be a new (well, 10 years now) series that feels fresh for new readers and draws in older fans like myself, they’re all doing something right.