Writer Chelsea Cain launches Bobbi Morse into a mystery out on the open sea!
The smell of the salty sea air. The sound of gentle lapping water on the boat’s hull. The sight of blood everywhere.
So it goes for Bobbi Morse as she continues her “nerd cruise” through the pages of MOCKINGBIRD #7 on September 14. We tracked down writer Chelsea Cain on the shuffleboard courts to find out how she put her hero in danger without a moment’s seasickness.
Marvel.com: As these issues make clear, when Mockingbird goes for a cruise, she still does not take it easy. There’s a lot of complications going on here! To start with the most visually obvious one, where did the idea of this story taking place amongst cosplayers come from? From a creative standpoint, as a writer, what about that appealed and/or inspired you?
Chelsea Cain: The entire arc takes place on the “nerd cruise.” Nerds rejoice: This is a real thing.
I’ve known a lot of people who’ve gone on the nerd cruise. Musicians. Gamers. Nerd enthusiasts. Or people who just really, really enjoy eating from buffets while wearing swimsuits. And it has always struck me as a completely insane-fantastic-totally-ridiculous-and-genius idea. So this was my way of going on the nerd cruise, and dragging all of you, and Bobbi, along with me.
Also, considering recent events involving her ex-husband and pending murder charges, it seemed like a good time for Bobbi to get out of town. The cosplay component was secondary. The nerd cruise definitely has comic book fan element, but to my knowledge they are not walking around dressed in Alpha Flight costumes.
I think fezzes are more their speed.
But once I imagined Bobbi trapped on this cruise ship, trying to get away from this mess with Hawkeye’s murder trial, the idea of her running into Hawkeye and Hulk cosplayers was too good to pass-up.
Marvel.com: How specific was the script when it came to guiding Kate Niemczyk’s artwork on the cosplayers—what characters, the quality of their costumes, their overall appearance and so on? How much room did she have as an artist to play with those elements?
Chelsea Cain: I gave Kate guidance and suggestions. Sometimes I was really specific—for story reasons—and other times I’d just say “it’s a roomful of cosplayers.” Kate had a lot of freedom with the extras, as long as there were a certain number of Hawkeye fans and a certain number of Hulk fans.
When Dale-the-Hawkeye-cosplayer shows up, I wanted him in a very 80’s Hawkeye costume, because that’s from the era that he and Bobbi were married.
Marvel.com: Overall, how was the collaboration between you and Kate for this issue? How do you two work together and drive one another forward?
Chelsea Cain: We are so solid. I cannot tell you how much easier it is than those first few issues. Because we have a shorthand now. And Kate so completely gets my sense of humor, and I think feels more confident about contributing to the visual story, rather than just drawing what’s in the script. Her work on this arc is her best yet.
Marvel.com: The next element is the murder. Again, as a writer, what appeals to you about telling a murder mystery, especially one in a relatively isolated area like a cruise ship?
Chelsea Cain: Well I’ve been killing people for about a decade; I write thrillers. So it comes naturally, I guess? I think Agatha Christie would approve.
Marvel.com: The solicit text also seems to imply the murder might be more complex than a crime of passion. Obviously without giving up the story, how much can you say about the agenda of the possible puppet master?
Chelsea Cain: Well, let’s just say that I was not asked to write a Civil War II tie-in; I more or less elbowed my way in. When I heard that Hawkeye was going to kill Banner and why, I felt like Bobbi had to have a response. She used to be married to the guy, and they have a history. And to write an arc where she is just blithely going about her business seemed really daft.
So I more or less raised my hand was like, “Um, excuse me! Can I address the whole ex-husband-on-trial-for-murder thing?”
Hawkeye divorced Bobbi back in the day because she supposedly let her ghost cowboy rapist fall off a cliff instead of saving him. And now he kills Banner and calls it justifiable? Maybe. But you don’t get to pull that crap without being called to task, arrow guy.
Marvel.com: Finally, there’s the Bermuda Triangle? How much of a role, how much of a character if you will does the Triangle play in this story? Should Bobbi be prepared for more than just the human danger?
Chelsea Cain: Bobbi is always prepared for anything, even mythical, non-science-based, media-hyped geographical anomalies. But if you’re asking if there will be ghost pirates, yes, eventually there will be ghost pirates.
Marvel.com: To move away from plot into character, with the book just passing the half-year mark, how is Mockingbird evolving in this comic? Has she progressed as you’ve expected or has the character surprised you at times?
Chelsea Cain: The first five issues were a puzzle box—sphere?—so [they] happened out of order, so this is really the first time I’ve gotten a chance to do more linear character development. It’s actually been really gratifying. Bobbi tends to be emotionally withholding—I have no idea where she gets it from—but in issues #6-8, she allows herself to be a bit more vulnerable, while still kicking ass across the Atlantic.
Marvel.com: Widening the lens to the larger cast of characters, which relationships have you enjoyed writing and playing with so far? How has the supporting cast informed your take on the book as a whole?
Chelsea Cain: Honestly, all the supporting cast in this book only exist in relationship to Bobbi. They serve her character, much as she has existed for 40 years to serve other characters.
I’m not writing HAWKEYE or HOWARD THE DUCK, I’m writing Bobbi’s version of Hawkeye and Howard the Duck. It’s like when you get home from a date and tell your roommate all about the person you went out with—your story is going to say more about you than it does about the date. It’s fun to see Bobbi riffing with other characters because she always gets the conversational upper hand—because she always gives herself the conversational upper hand. It’s one of the things I love about her.
Then there are the corgis. If I have one legacy at Marvel, let it be that I have brought corgis into the [Marvel Universe]. That will be enough.
Marvel.com: Considering where the characters of Bobbi and Hunter are at the start of #7, how does this combination of factors—the cosplayers, the murder, the possibly larger conspiracy, the possible supernatural effects of the Bermuda Triangle—hit them? How do they react?
Chelsea Cain: Bobbi is focused on solving the murder and unraveling the conspiracy that brought her onboard. Hunter is focused on not annoying Bobbi.
Marvel.com: Last but not least, for those considering buying a ticket on this luxury liner and coming aboard with issue #7, what’s one more thing you’d want them to know to persuade them to take the proverbial gangplank on-board?
Chelsea Cain: It’s actually a great entry point to the story. There’s been a murder. On a nerd cruise. Bobbi has to investigate. Things are going to get worse before they get better. And there are some jokes.
Also, many of the nerd cruise regulars who make cameo appearance in #6 will begin to play more important roles. You can jump right in, and enjoy the ride. The Admiral’s Club will be serving free daiquiris from 5 PM-9 PM.
Board MOCKINGBIRD #7 by Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk for high adventure on the high seas, coming September 14!