Review by Frank Plowright
With My Feminist Agenda Chelsea Cain slightly alters her approach to Mockingbird. Aspects of Bobbi Morse’s previous history were acknowledged, then all but ignored in the previous I Can Explain, whereas the lead story here is heavy with references to the past. Because her ex-husband Clint Barton (Hawkeye) is due to stand trial for murder Mockingbird takes an opportunity to get away from it all by accepting an invitation to a cosplay cruise due to sail through the Bermuda Triangle. No, it doesn’t sound like the most obvious form of rest and relaxation, and so it proves.
It’s a different style of story from the first, where the whimsy overtakes the plot. Whereas Cain’s début toyed engagingly with the form, and included many wacky passing diversions, at its heart was a well-structured plot, and that’s absent here. Instead My Feminist Agenda is more obviously a vehicle for the gags, which stretch a really slim plot too far. It’s still funny a lot of the time, and still brilliantly drawn by Kate Niemcyzk, but not compulsive reading. Mention should be made of a quirk used to break up the art via the use of pictograms and diagrams. This culminates in a completely insane flow chart construction, contemplating the options for dealing with a potentially lethal villain. It’s brilliant not only for the density and the jokes, but for also encapsulating Mockingbird’s character.
It only takes a few seconds online to uncover appalling abuse directed at Cain for a cover to the final issue collected here featuring the slogan providing the title. Good for her sticking up a metaphorical finger by using that title. Why are some people are so threatened by how others choose to define themselves? And why does this nonsense trickle down to rage over minor fictional characters?
That Mockingbird’s series was cancelled after eight issues left Marvel with content shortage for this collection, so we also have two Avengers issues in which she features padding out the collection. The first has her at death’s door, the second on the road to recovery, and that’s by far the better, with Brian Michael Bendis giving Mockingbird a voice that’s very different from the character as interpreted by Cain. It also works. Far more serious, yes, but appropriate for the circumstances. Unfortunately, we arrive in the middle of a story and it’s continued long after the final page. Yes, this isn’t an expensive collection, but couldn’t Marvel have just done the right thing and packaged all of Cain and Niemcyzk’s work in the one trade paperback?