The Ronin costume was first seen, somewhat mysteriously, on a Joe Quesada-drawn variant cover of New Avengers #1 back in 2004. It wasn’t until 10 issues later that a character actually appeared wearing the outfit within the pages of the book, eventually revealed to be Maya “Echo” Lopez. After coming back to life post-House of M, the former Hawkeye Clint Barton adopted the Ronin identity and joined the New Avengers, with Echo officially handing down the mantle to him. But now Barton’s officially back in the familiar purple Hawkeye outfit, and the Ronin identity appears to be retired.Well, it’s hard to keep a good disguise — or costume design — down, and someone new takes up the Ronin duds in “Widow Maker,” the upcoming crossover between Hawkeye & Mockingbird and Black Widow. It’s four issues starting in December, running through, in order, Hawkeye & Mockingbird #7, Black Widow #9, Hawkeye & Mockingbird #8 and Black Widow #10. This Ronin, though, doesn’t seem to be anywhere near as noble as Echo or Hawkeye. He’s assassinating spies around the globe, with Black Widow and Mockingbird next on his list. That brings the three Marvel Comics heroes together to find out why, and discover exactly who it is wearing Hawkeye’s old clothes. And yeah, Hawkeye has a romantic past with Black Widow, and a romantic past — and present — with Mockingbird, so things might get just a little bit awkward amidst all the espionage. Hawkeye & Mockingbird writer Jim McCann and Black Widow writer Duane Swierczynski are teaming up for “Widow Maker,” and keeping in that collaborative spirit, teamed up for this interview with Newsarama. Newsarama: What motivated the decision to use the Ronin costume? Is it just something enduring about the design, or is the Ronin identity sort of a new tradition at Marvel as kind of a symbolic guise to be used when somebody's hiding something? Or is there a more specific storyline reason for its use? Duane Swierczynski: Who’s behind the mask? That’s the central mystery of this crossover and the key to everything. But let me assure you, the Ronin identity is used for a very specific reason. A number of specific reasons, actually. And yeah, the costume is cool, too. (That never hurts.) Jim McCann: That identity and why it exists will be examined and explained in this crossover. Nrama: If you can answer this to any degree without spoiling anything, what are the assassin's motivations? Is it personal, professional or both? Why are Black Widow and Mockingbird both on his or her list? Swierczynski: Spies are the eyes and ears of governments (and organizations) around the world. So if you have someone going through the trouble and expense of taking out spies left and right … well, you have to imagine the perpetrator would want the world to be blind and deaf for some very good reasons. McCann: It also doesn’t help that two of the people the assassin is after are core characters in our books. I’d say it’s both. These are two women who are really good at what they do and can potentially destroy what their foe is trying to accomplish. Nrama: What was the collaborative process like? I assume you guys were familiar with each other before, given Jim's previous role in Marvel marketing, but working together on a crossover is obviously a different matter altogether. Swierczynski: I love having the chance to collaborate. So much of my writing life is spent alone, in a basement, staring at a wall, wondering if I should have another Diet Coke, but no, I’ve already had two already this morning, that can’t be good for me, maybe I should just have a glass of water … what was I saying? … anyway, it’s nice to be pulled out of that. And Jim’s a fantastic collaborator. His enthusiasm is utterly infectious. McCann: It is really nice to have someone there to take an idea or a kernel of an idea and transform it into something bigger and better. On the flip-side, it’s really fun to see something Duane has thrown out or suggested and go “Oh! That’s perfect with [upcoming plot-point post-“Widow Maker”]!! We could have X, Y, and Z happen!” Duane’s also been so generous in coming in and sharing his plans for Black Widow and it’s crazy how much this crossover lines up with what we’ve both wanted to do in our books. And it does help relieve that Dr. Pepper guzzling loneliness that is writing … No, wait, I mean, the glamorous high-life of writing! Nrama: Obligatory question: Obviously, Black Widow and Hawkeye used to have a thing, and now of course Hawkeye is back with Mockingbird. How awkward does it get? McCann: Imagine how awkward it could get. Now multiply that by 100. Given the events that have been happening to Hawkeye & Mockingbird so far, they are in a position where this re-emergence of Black Widow in their lives couldn’t come at a worse time. (Except for the fact that David Lopez has been dying to draw her since we found out we got this ongoing gig!) People have been asking for a Black Widow cameo since the series was announced, and I’ve had to bite my tongue because I knew this was coming. Well, here it is! Buckle up! Nrama: Duane, this crossover is coming just four issues into your run on Black Widow. Is it a challenge to get on board with a crossover so early into a new series, while still maybe finding your groove? Swierczynski: Not at all, because the crossover was in the cards from the beginning — and happily, a lot of my ideas for the series dovetailed with what Jim had in mind. The crossover is helping me define my groove, as a matter of fact. It’s so much fun bouncing ideas back and forth with Jim. Nrama: Going into this, then, how up to speed were you on the Avengers lore and the history between the main characters of the crossover? Swierczynski: While I didn’t grow up with them, I’ve been reading the Avengers books for quite a few years now—ever since I started writing Iron Fist. And I have to mention that I once had a Hawkeye lunch box and Thermos in grade school. I didn’t know who the character was, but he looked badass enough to pull off the whole purple thing. Nrama: This is kind of your first crossover, right, Jim? How are you liking that experience? McCann: I’ve watched a number of crossovers planned in my time with Marvel, but actually being one of the people driving the bus is crazy. I don’t think people realize how much work and talking and back-and-forth goes into these. But doing this with Duane has been incredible. His knowledge of the espionage world is so vast and his ideas are so great that co-plotting has been a fantastic experience. I hope he forgives me when I go back in time and steal his lunch box … Nrama: Jim, this type of story — spies, globetrotting, former lovers working together alongside current lovers — seems right in your wheelhouse. How much fun are you having co-writing this? McCann: This is something I’ve been wanting to do with the series from the onset. The first arc was a very personal and historical one, something that had to happen to set up the rest of the series and the dynamics of the book. Now we get to go around the world and see some of the awesome places in the Marvel U, as well as discovering new places. And throw in some human drama between characters with an explosive past? This is super-heroics at its highest. Nrama: Since Hawkeye and Mockingbird will be together, any chance that Widow's significant other will show up in this story? (Not that he doesn't have enough of his own to deal with.) Swierczynski: Yeah, Bucky has his plate full. But I wouldn’t rule anything out. Nrama: By nature, this story is intended to take its characters around the globe. What are some of the exotic locations ? McCann: Our artists get to draw a lot of different outfits to fit the locations. These characters better pack for any environment. Swierczynski: Let’s put it this way: after the crossover, our heroes (if they survive) will be humming that Johnny Cash tune, “I’ve Been Everywhere, man.” Who do you think this new spy-targeting Ronin might be?
McCann and Swierczynski Talk WIDOW MAKER
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