The newly returned Mockingbird continues her reintroduction to the Marvel Universe and her estranged husband Clint (Hawkeye/Ronin) Barton by leading us all on an international spy-chase to uproot the latest AIM game. What worked. This book is so deeply rooted in twists and layers of Marvel continuity the it is practically un-sumarizable. Just explaining who Barton is or is not at the moment is more than enough to turn away most non-readers. And then you factor in his past with Mockingbird, the Secret Invasion, Dark Reign....it is just too much to handle. But I do not mean that as criticism. Not every book should be written as a "jumping on point". This book is fully immersed in continuity and it acts like it. This is clearly not a re-purposed Catwoman/Batman pitch. Not only doe sit only work with these two characters, it only works at this specific moment of continuity. And, if you aware of that continuity, it is wonderful to see stories like this which weave exciting action and rich character drama in and around it. The actual plot moves deftly through points A, B, and C. A fairly straightforward espionage story with the usual exciting twists. What makes this story pop, however, is the character interaction. Mockingbird is actually pretty cool. Oh yeah, we recall, she is kind of bad-ass and really knows her stuff. Suddenly we don't quite recall what we may or may not have read in West Coast Avengers. She's tough and she certainly has it in for someone. Who, exactly, is hard to tell, just because her current position is so complex and convoluted. She is out to settle SOME score and Clint is out to figure out just where he stands with his wife/ex/friend(?)/or whatever she might end up being. These last few, confusing, sentences are exactly what is so compelling about this series. It is impossible to knw what is coming next for these two because it is impossible to get your head around their current situation(s). Clint, especially, comes off as pleasingly complex. He is obviously falling back into an adventure posture to try to cozy back in with Mockingbird. He acts the dumb himbo to charm her, but it is obviously an act and he can't help letting his competency and experience shine through when the situation calls for it.
What did not work. This story has had several flashbacks illuminating various key moments in the checkered past of the two leads. These moments have been wonderful in their fragmentedness. They leave us, the reader, desperate for the missing piece or firm footing from which to view this new again relationship. One particular sequence in this issue goes as far as to introduce the voice of a new narrator. And that is what pushes it too far. It can't possibly be the memories of either of our leads, because it is being told from a new, green, point of view. Though the story in this section is cool, and delivers needed info, the style of it is quite jarring.