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Dark Reign

Dark Reign-Makers: Jim McCann

Marvel stalwart Jim McCann takes us through Ronin and Mockingbird's long-awaited reconciliation in NEW AVENGERS: THE REUNION

By Marc Strom And with every ending comes a new beginning. Jim McCann, Marvel's marketing guru extraordinaire, has recently made the jump into writing, and on March 4, with the help of artist David Lopez, he'll bring longtime Avengers Clint Barton, a.k.a. Ronin, and Bobbi Morse, a.k.a. Mockingbird, back together in the pages of NEW AVENGERS: THE REUNION #1. The writer, a lifelong fan of both characters, spoke with Marvel.com about the chance to write the pair following their unexpected reunion in the final issue of SECRET INVASION, and what the future holds in store for one of Marvel's most tumultuous and adventuresome couples. (And before the four-issue limited series hits stands in March, readers can get a preview of what McCann and artist David Lopez have in store for Ronin and Mockingbird in a special prelude story in DARK REIGN: NEW NATION #1, on sale right now)

cover by Jo Chen

Marvel.com: In a nutshell, what is NEW AVENGERS: THE REUNION about? Where does it pick up after Secret Invasion? Jim McCann: The prologue [in DARK REIGN: NEW NATION #1] picks up a short time after. [Writer Brian Michael] Bendis has some things going on in NEW AVENGESR that pick up moments after SECRET INVASION #8, so I needed to give the characters the time and space needed for that story. Bobbi and Clint are on that team and have a certain front they are keeping while around [their] other teammates, but it's clear in THE REUNION that there is more than what is happening on the surface between these two. Marvel.com: Rumor has it you're a big Mockingbird fan. Where does your affection for the character come from? Jim McCann: Huge fan. I have to say, that I'm not just a Mockingbird fan, but a Clint and Bobbi fan. Hands down, this is my favorite couple in the Marvel Universe. I was heartbroken when she was apparently killed off in AVENGERS WEST COAST #100. Some of my first issues I got from back issue bins were the HAWKEYE limited series [from 1983] and MARVEL TEAM-UP #95. This was just before the WEST COAST AVENGERS limited series. Just like I always felt like the New Mutants were a team I could root for more than the X-Men because I was there [from] the first issue, the West Coast Avengers was my team because I watched them come together. [And] Bobbi and Clint were the foundation for that team. [Mockingbird] is a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, a biologist, and a co-founding member of an Avengers team. What an amazing character! And now, we get a chance to blend all of that, and add to the fact that she has spent years on a world of shape-shifting aliens. You don't live a life like that without picking up some new tricks. I am taking all of that, as well as playing on the

name Mockingbird to turn her into exactly that, giving the character a new status quo that is not something that comes out of left field, but rather builds on this character's experience and life. Marvel.com: Do you know how it was decided that Mockingbird would make her return in Secret Invasion? Or, in other words, did you bribe Bendis to bring her back? Jim McCann: We had a list of people that would be replaced and that list was finalized well into the planning process of Secret Invasion. At the final planning meeting/creative retreat, we knew that we wanted to get something or someone back. We didn't want to do an easy retcon on a character that is currently or has had controversial stories, nor did we want to invalidate years of anyone's history. So, we needed to come up with a list of characters that could fit that. [VP of Business Development] Mike Pasciullo threw out Mockingbird's name and it made it on the list. Once I saw that opening, I was the loudest voice in the room to bring her back. I said the now-infamous "They are the Mr. and Mrs. Smith of the Marvel U" line that seemed to resonate with people. Once it was agreed that she was a viable option, I had to come up with the reason why she would be back and what a returned Mockingbird would get us. I had to prove to Brian that she was a character worth page-space in SECRET INVASION, and to [Executive Editor] Tom Brevoort and [Editor-in-Chief] Joe [Quesada] that her return could make sense and give us back one of the best characters [former Marvel editor/writer] Mark Gruenwald ever created. That they agreed, I cannot thank them all enough. Brian has been a huge cheerleader for me in this and helped me grow, and has given me the freedom to take these characters on their emotional journey, which is a huge gift!

Marvel.com: Hawkeye's had a few eventful years since his death and return-where's his head at in this series? Jim McCann: He's had an eventful run since Bobbi's death, honestly, from running the Thunderbolts to dying and being brought back, both by the Scarlet Witch. He's been on a journey of self-discovery since coming back from House of M and I think he was so close to finding his place in the world when the Skrulls came in and messed with his mind not once-with the Skrull-Mockingbird in issue #2-but twice in SECRET INVASION, [when he saw] Bobbi come off that ship. His world is rocked to its core. He had her and he lost her, time and again, and now he has her back again. So, what do you do? Do you try once more for the love of your life? And what happens if she doesn't feel the same? He has a lot to deal with. Marvel.com: What will the relationship between Clint and Bobbi be like at first? Will it be hard for either or both of them to ease back into their relationship after so much time apart? Jim McCann: If it were easy, it would be a very boring, and quick, reunion, wouldn't it? Theirs is an incredibly complex relationship, always was. While they both have experience with everyone thinking they were each "dead," what they have experienced as individuals is vastly different. For Clint, it was a blink of an eye. For Bobbi, it's been years, and what she went through on the Skrull world is haunting her. In a way it's made her go back to the person she was even before she met Clint. So, yeah, these are people who have been a couple in the past, but they have to figure out who they are in the present, both individually and together.

Marvel.com: How do you see their relationship? What made it work so well back in the day? Jim McCann: They were a real couple. They were allowed to play out an incredible arc, from eloping to a very controversial assault storyline to near-divorce to death. They are individually impulsive, stubborn, and resourceful. Put them together, and they were magic. The chemistry they have is more than just "Mr. and Mrs. Smith"-it's also Nick and Nora Charles from the "Thin Man" series [of movies], as well as Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. They bring out the best and the worst in each other. They are very much equals in each others' minds, and they see the other in themselves. But if you don't even really know yourself anymore, what happens when you are looking in your "mirror" self? What will you see? Marvel.com: When it came time to write the series, how much research did you do? Did you ever reach a point where you felt like you'd over-researched the story? Jim McCann: I re-read everything. And I mean everything. Even Bobbi's ASTONISHING TALES appearances when she was Agent 19, a biologist recruited into S.H.I.E.L.D. to recreate the Super Soldier serum. I re-read all of the Bobbi/Clint appearances to review their arc as a couple. I found the moment when she was replaced, I found the perfect spot to address why her body didn't turn to a Skrull in AVENGERS WEST COAST #100, etc. All of that definitely led to an over-researched place. The first outline I turned in was basically continuity porn. It didn't move the story of Bobbi and Clint forward, it was just a trip down memory lane. And along came Jeanine Schaefer, my incredible editor. She didn't know their history, she just knew my love of the characters and what I feel they can be, and that was a vision she believed in. She helped me strip the story down to the core and

keep moving them forward while building on their history. She is my sounding board and challenges me in a very good way to respect their past but not get too bogged down in it, rather keep going forward. Marvel.com: What can you tell us about David Lopez' work on the series so far? How have you liked working with him? Jim McCann: He is the perfect casting for this and I couldn't be happier. He can do action, emotion, expression, and mystery. This is a story of super heroes as well as a noir/spy thriller. In fact, fans of those genres will find clues in many different references taken from classic noir and spy films. David has designed a new look for Mockingbird that helps drive home her new place in life while celebrating her iconic look. Plus, he gave me tons of new toys to play with. I can't tell you how happy I am to have him as a co-collaborator in this dream project! Marvel.com: What was it like writing the prelude story in DARK REIGN: NEW NATION? Jim McCann: It was a challenge. I needed to write a self-contained story that served so many purposes. Bobbi's been off the canvas for 15 years in reader-time, so I needed to show who this character is, what her relationship to Clint is, recap Secret Invasion and set up a compelling story to get people excited enough to buy the limited series. I only hope I did that. As for the story, it pulls the curtain back on what is going on with Clint and Bobbi when no one else is around. It also shows that Bobbi has some information and a mission that she brought back from the Skrulls. Things are not [going] well for her. She's having these post-traumatic stress-induced visions. These are not just nightmares, these are glimpses into what she went through and where she is going. Also, that phone call she makes in the end definitely plays into [NEW AVENGERS: THE REUNION] in a huge way.

Marvel.com: Any last NEW AVENGERS: THE REUNION teases you'd like to drop? Jim McCann: There are many ways to take the word "reunion." [Readers] will see some familiar faces and some new ones. And I know there is a large group [of fans] out there who have waited years to see [these characters] together. I hope I can do these characters the justice they deserve and I hope they still resonate with the fans as much as they did years ago because I think there is such potential here and I have so many stories left to tell with them. I can only hope that this is the beginning. Tomorrow, Dark Reign-Makers concludes with THUNDERBOLTS writer Andy Diggle! Check out the official Marvel Shop for your favorite Marvel Heroes!

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