If her role on Agents of SHIELD is any indication, it appears that Mockingbird, played by Adrianne Palicki, is on her way toward major prominence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In hopes of a lot more Mockingbird next season, I took a look back at her first appearance in the comics. Now, while Bobbi Morse was introduced in Astonishing Tales #6, she didn’t appear as the iconic Mockingbird until almost ten years later in 1980’s Marvel Team-Up #95, where she’s pitted against, and later alongside of, Spider-Man. That series is awesome, because Spider-Man serves as a gateway to so many readers into the world of comics, so it functions well as a buddy cop book with rotating partners for Spidey, but also as a cool way to bring new heroes into the Marvel Universe.
In this one, written by Steven Grant with art from Jimmy Janes & Bruce Patterson, colors from Ben Sean, and letters from Costanza, Peter Parker is getting off of a flight when his spider-senses go off. He chases after some guys, who turn out to be spies, who are shooting at Bobbi Morse in broad daylight. Spidey, not noticing how well Bobbi is handling himself, intervenes in effort to save who he believes to be a cute blonde under attack… and man, does he get in over his head. Bobbi’s disguise is burned off, revealing her Mockingbird costume, and she proceeds to completely handle the guys shooting at her, as well as the flying car that tries to take her out. She and Spidey end up in the car, which she abandons – the lady’s got a mission!
Spidey gets picked up by SHIELD, who are pretty pissed. They reveal that the woman he helped is actually Mockingbird, who they say is a former SHIELD agent and a killer. They set up an elaborate scheme, baiting Mockingbird to come to the headquarters, and Spidey goes along with it… until Mockingbird shows up and convinces him that she’s really fighting corruption in SHIELD. There’s a lot of back-and-forth, and Spider-Man ends up looking pretty flighty, as it doesn’t take much convincing on either side for him to flip-flop back and forth, fighting anyone who he’s told to. While his quips are strong throughout – because, come on, we need the quips – I do wish he showed a bit more agency here.
What I did like was how much of a boss Mockingbird is. Though Spider-Man helps in parts, I got the impression that he also hindered her, and that the issue sought to prove that Mockingbird is already a hero on his level, or above it. She’s engaging as a character from her first scene here, more so than even the always likeable Spidey. What I didn’t love about this is that the book randomly ends with her getting shot and injured, though everyone seems kind of nonchalant about it. There’s a big image of Nick Fury carrying her to the infirmary, which seemed like a really bizarre way to end such a strong introductory story for her. I tried to see if there was a follow-up story that made sense of this ending, but the next time she appears, she’s fully healed and kicking ass in 1983’s Hawkeye.
Even with the unnecessary ending, it’s an action-packed and intriguing start to a character who would grow to be an icon. And hey, we know there’s a flying car in Agents of SHIELD… dare I dream of a mid-air Mockingbird and Spider-Man team up with Coulson’s lovely Lola?
PAT SHAND writes comics (Family Pets, Robyn Hood, Charmed: Season 10) and pop culture journalism (Sad Girls Guide, Blastoff Comics). He lives in beautiful San Diego, where he stays inside all day lest his ginger body burst into flames.