McCann Talks WIDOWMAKER's Ronin Reveal, HAWKEYE and More
The current Ronin, a guise previously used by both Echo and Hawkeye in the pages of New Avengers, is Alexi Shostakov, the original Red Guardian. He’s the ex-husband of the Black Widow, and a character originally introduced in 1967’s Avengers #43 — and one that hasn’t been seen much other than that Silver Age story, outside an appearance in Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev’s Daredevil run back in 2004.
“That’s one reason why we didn’t end on a last-page reveal of him unmasking and expect everybody to immediately recognize who he was,” said Jim McCann, writer of the issue and the Hawkeye & Mockingbird series that preceded it, in a phone interview with Newsarama. “There was a little bit of concern, but he had been mentioned throughout [Paul Cornell-written 2009 miniseries Black Widow:] Deadly Origin recently. I like to be able to play with people’s established histories, because I think that in this day and age you can go online and find out more about the character, you can ask your friends — it makes comics a more communal experience, when everything isn’t all exactly spelled out, or when things don’t go the way the Internet fans have anticipated it to go.”
“There was a lot of speculation as to who it was, and I never saw anybody really speculate that it was Alexi,” McCann said. “That actually made me happy and excited. While it may be a letdown because some people love to have their guesses be validated, at the same time, that lets down other people, because it’s like, ‘Oh, well, everybody already guessed that.’”
Though McCann said there would be no point in simply going for shock value — having it be someone nonsensical like, to use his example, Annihilus — there was one unavailable character he admits would have been a neat choice for the new Ronin.
“I kind of wish that Bullseye hadn’t stayed dead,” McCann said about the long-time Daredevil villain who took over Clint Barton’s Hawkeye identity during “Dark Reign” and was killed off in the recent Shadowland story. “It would have been fun for it to be Bullseye, just constantly changing costumes, and following Clint. I just thought, ‘Oh, that’d be so cool to follow up on their rivalry,’ but he’s dead.”
“Not only was it personal for Natasha, but it brought in Hawkeye with the association of Ronin, it brought in Dominic Fortune, with him having killed the last Ronin known before Maya Lopez brought back the identity,” the writer said “Mockingbird was just being used and played. I had already put her through the wringer[in Hawkeye & Mockingbird] and put her dead-center in the target, so I kind of wanted that to be a swerve this time, where it actually didn’t have anything to do with her this time — she was being used to get to Clint, instead of the reverse.”
“I’m picking up very much on what happens to Hawkeye, where he is coming out of this,” McCann said. “That said, you don’t have to have read Widowmaker, you don’t have to have read Hawkeye & Mockingbird, you don’t have to have read Black Widow.”
The writer shares that while much of Hawkeye & Mockingbird was told through the latter character’s point-of-view, this series will give readers a chance to find out why Hawkeye is “so awesome.”
“This really is a turning point for him,” McCann said, advising that with one issue left of Widowmaker he couldn’t go into any specifics like which villains would show up in the series. “Obviously, he’s in the Avengers movie coming out, played by Jeremy Renner, so there will be a lot of interest there. Some cynical people out there are going, ‘Oh, they’re just doing this because there’s a movie.’ But this is actually the Hawkeye story I’ve wanted to tell.”
McCann stated that Mockingbird won’t be seen in at least the first two issues of Blind Spot, but Spider-Woman, Steve Rogers, Iron Man, Thor and Maria Hill will all play a role in the series, which will focus in part on the “civilian” side of Clint Barton.
“It’s actually not too creepy,” McCann said of his revision of the holiday classic. “I didn’t want to go the Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter route. Dickens in and of himself is very dark. If you read the original text, it’s a freakin’ scary book, until Tiny Tim and the end.”
McCann’s beginning early work on the Dapper Men sequel, Time of the Dapper Men, and trying not to be intimidated by the overwhelmingly positive critical reaction the book received.
“I’m trying not to let that put too much pressure on me, thanks for bringing it back up,” McCann said with a laugh. “As soon as Archaia saw the finished product, they had already wanted us to start thinking about future volumes.”