Written by Chelsea Cain
Art by Kate Niemczyk, Sean Parsons, Rachelle Rosenberg, Joe Caramanga
Published by Marvel Comics
Release date: September 14, 2016

The comic convention cruise ship has turned into more of a murder mystery party. Except no appetizers (don’t worry still plenty of clue dropping drinks.) Last month Bobbi Morse found herself aboard a nerd themed cruise to help find evidence that would clear her ex-husband, Hawkeye, of Bruce Banner’s murder (Thanks Civil War II!) Instead, her  informant is dead and she’s left with a cavalcade of suspects, including Mockingbird series artist Kate Niemczyk. (What? It’s is a convention on a cruise boat!)

From Boy Scout guide diagrams to overhead cruise ship view points, Niemczyk continues to sell the tongue-in-cheek funny through her layouts. Most pages feel like half story, half gag, in the best way possible. You never know what you’re going to find! Sean Parsons’ inking fits a house style that compliments Niemczyk’s work without being too heavy or overbearing. On several pages gutters are replaced by nautical ropes and portholes. When the tone toward the end of the book becomes very serious, white backgrounds are replaced by black. They’re small touches that add to the overall mood of the story. The bright and happy colors of the convention goers and the eerie tone of the late night vigil on the deck show has Rachelle Rosenberg can swift shift up the mood while helping the story feel like a complete whole.

The line is figuratively blurred in the reader’s brain between the art and Joe Caramanga’s lettering on the page where portholes are used as portrait styled panels. The letterer has a monumental task of skillfully placing back and forth interactions. It’s something this book has excelled at doing. The initial exposition conversations are no exception.

It’s through these information heavy conversations that Chelsea Cain’s dialogue shows it’s strengths and wit. The balance between inner monologue, conversational dialogue and infographic humor is perfectly balanced. It forces readers to continuously stay on their toes, not knowing which one will come next after the page turn. Normally, that would create an awkward reading experience. However, the lettering provides instant visual cues with color and font as to which one is happening. You keep reading, uninterrupted, except from laughing or feeling uneasy with what Bobbi is about to face.

Which leads to the unexpected twist at the end of this issue. Up to this point, it’s been more about Bobbie trying to do what she can for Clint Barton, even if begrudgingly. Now, a single character forces everything into a very sobering tone that could go very well, ala Jessica Jones route, or very badly, ala every other comic book about a woman dealing with past abuse. While nothing happens that necessarily point to over trigger warnings for readers; it’s still a fascinating choice for Cain and Co. to take Bobbi down this road in the next issue. However, if the cover art is any indication, I think she’ll be able to handle it just fine.

For those who might feel lost or uncomfortable once the story is introduced there is, as always, a skillfully laid out infographic at the end of the book that explains just enough.

Mockingbird is a go to, feel good, belly laugh inducing, adventure ride every month. This issue is no exception. Murder mystery abounds, convoluted solutions exist and lots of humorous art abounds. Some might be annoyed that the tie-in to Civil War II connects Bobbie too much to the stories of the men in her life, the cliffhanger looks to have the potential refocus everything back in her direction.

The Verdict: 9.0/10


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