50 Years of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Mockingbird (And More Ava Orlova)

Ava Orlova, I am not done with you. As it turns out, the star of the abysmal fanfiction made into a novel, Forever Red has had a comic book appearance. Read on to find out if Ava’s second stint can make a better impression.

During Marvel’s ongoing and much appreciated push to have a more diverse cast of characters, they put out a number of comics under the S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary banner. These are one-shots – single issues that are consistent in themselves – that spotlight a number of female characters who have some ties to Marvel’s biggest spy agency, S.H.I.E.L.D..

In the backup feature to S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary: Mockingbird, Ava Orlova makes her comic book debut. The star of the worst book of 2015 gets the prequel to Black Widow Forever Red, which is Marvel’s most recent foray into the world of Young Adult novels.


Bobbi Morse is Mockingbird, a side character nobody’s bothered with for years

Surprisingly Decent

After the incredible shitshow that was Forever Red, I was not looking forward to this. Not only am I not the biggest fan of Mockingbird as I think her a somewhat derivative and wholly superfluous in her current state. Looking at other Marvel characters, we have much more interesting ones. There’s Kamala Khan aka. Ms. Marvel or Cindy Moon aka. Silk or the ever-changing Carol Danvers who may or may not still be in outer space. Characters not to look at due to bland and/or flat-out rage inducing are in my world: Mockingbird and Ava Orlova, among others.

After mostly skipping the first story as I’m not in this for Mockingbird accidentally calling her lover, whose name is not Clint, Clint referring to her ex-husband Clint Barton aka. Hawkeye, I finally happened upon Ava Orlova.

Written by Margaret Stohl, the author of the worst book of the year.

Oh Blargh.

Turns out it wasn’t so bad. I think Stohl’s writing is probably better suited for a medium that forces the people involved in making it to create a world. For this, she got Nico Leon as an artist. Now, Leon is a virtual unknown of quite a bit of talent. His art, while not redefining comics, is solid, nice to look at and dynamic. It’s more on the cartoony side than the photorealistic one, so it perfectly lends itself to comics.

Nico Leon has also added a number of nice little touches. Ava stealing an apple as she passes a deli? Not even acknowledged in writing. Neither is her beanie hat that looks as if Ava has stitched the Black Widow’s hourglass logo onto. Leon also expands on the fact that Ava is quite skilled at drawing. That is arguably the coolest part about the art. Ava’s style is not that of the artist. She draws Japanese style Manga that clashes in the best way possible with the rest of the comic book.

Oh, and then there’s this hero-shot of Ava in full Red Widow gear, that is no way reminiscent of a S.H.I.E.L.D. uniform. And as such, it’s totally okay for her to wear a modified fencing jacket. In fact, it looks pretty damn good.

Ava Orlova

This is how the Red Widow aka. Ava Orlova should be introduced – Nevermind the two Épées

Typos. Again?!

The story’s biggest weakness is the writing. Now, I might have been looking out for it, but there they were: Typos. Again, it shows that Margaret Stohl neither knows nor cares about the Russian language. This time around, she buggers up the one Russian word she got right throughout Forever Red: Der’mo. Translated, this word means Shit, which is apt. In the comic book, it’s spelled Dermo. Which means… well, nothing. Three seconds on Google Translate would have told you this.

This time, though, the story had two editors: Charles Beacham who has edited over 100 comic books and one of Marvel’s editors supreme: Sana Amanat. This still slipped by. Apparently, Russian is not one of Marvel’s house languages.

There’s not really much more to say. If this wouldn’t lead into Forever Red, I would be excited about this new hero with ties to Black Widow. But, unless Marvel decides that Red Widow aka. Ava Orlova deserves a better shot at making her mark than in a Young Adult novel, I guess Nico Leon and Margaret Stohl’s comic book is all we’re going to get.

About Dom

Possessing nigh-encyclopaedic knowledge when it comes to comic books and movies, Dom is one of the co-founders of the Uncanny Book-Club. He also enjoys movies, and going to the cinema.

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