First introduced way back in 1971, Marvel’s Mockingbird is an ass-kicking superspy along the lines of Black Widow or a government-backed Catwoman. Inside the pages of comic books, she can take on all comers. Out here in the real world, however, she and the people writing her stories are coming up against some serious assaults.
It began early this month when, alas, the hero’s self-titled series, Mockingbird, was cancelled after eight issues. In response, series writer Chelsea Cain tweeted an image of Mockingbird wearing a shirt that read “Ask Me About My Feminist Agenda” and the message, “Please buy Mockingbird #8 this Wed. Send a message to @marvel that there’s room in comics for super hero stories about grown-up women.” Ultimately she took the tweet down, but not before it attracted enough misogynist MRA trolls to force her off the social-messaging platform.
“Overnight, I had lost thousands of followers, (I’d gone to bed with about 8,500.)” Cain wrote. “I had gained a thousand new followers. I had been tagged thousands of times. Comments were coming in, fast and furious, every second. I’d never seen anything like it. I saw a few of them—a lot of support, a lot of people yelling at one another—a lot of people mad at me for being too quick on the block button or too critical of comic book readers or being too feminist. A lot of them just seemed mad at women in general.” She added, “I deactivated my account. I got up. I walked my dogs.”
It’s a pattern of harassment that women have experienced over and over again thanks to the trolls who attacked Leslie Jones for her looks and the near psychotic followers of Gamergate who threatened the lives of women who simply wanted positive female representation in videogames.
About the onslaught, Cain wrote, “It’s not different than what most comic book writers deal with, especially female ones… The tweets that bothered me were never the ones concerned with content; they were the ones that questioned my right to write comics at all, and were disgusted by the idea of a female hero having her own series.”
The upside, and the way you can come in as a sidekick, here is playing out on Amazon. There, just as Cain called for, Mockingbird #8 is sitting atop the web-retailer’s comic-books sales chart. Yeah, it’s what you might call a Pyrrhic victory, but it’s a victory nonetheless and may help inject even more feminism into mainstream comics.