On August 19, 2014, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Adrianne Palicki will be joining the cast of “Marvel’s Agent’s of S.H.I.E.L.D.” as fan favorite huntress Mockingbird. Palicki who starred as Tyra Collette on “Friday Night Lights” from 2006-2011, will be making her debut in the fifth episode of the new season as Agent Bobbi Morse. Her role as she meets Agent Coulson’s (Clark Gregg) team is still unknown but the character’s Marvel Comics origins may be a tip of the hat to the character's recurring role in the show.
Following the events of the movie “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” the television series “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” underwent a radical makeover. No longer was the premiere spy agency protecting the world because now they are seen as the bad guys. The terrorist organization known as Hydra had infiltrated SHIELD at every level. Corruption ran rampant.
Coulson’s team’s new mission is to root out the Hydra agents that contributed to the SHIELD downfall while reestablishing SHIELD’s good name. Finding moles within SHIELD is something Mockingbird knows all about based on her comic book origins which began in the early 1970s where she debuted as an agent of SHIELD specializing in biology working in the Savage Land.
The Marvel Comics character Mockingbird is often defined by her relationship with the Avenger Hawkeye (played by Jeremy Renner in “Marvel’s The Avengers”). The two became founding members of the West Coast Avengers in 1985 and would have an on again/off again relationship for many years.
After a long hiatus Mockingbird returned to active duty in the pages of “New Avengers” and later “Secret Avengers.” She resumed her role not only as a superhero but also as one of Marvel’s super spies. It is this role where she will fit in best with the cast of the television series.
Agent 19 of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Barbara Morse was introduced in the pages of “Astonishing Tales” #6 (June 1971) as a supporting character for the title’s lead hero Ka-Zar the lord of the Savage Land. Her character was undefined for several appearances as the title changed writers and directions with lots of frequency. After a few sporadic appearances where her hair color changed from brunette to blonde she finally was got into a groove in “Astonishing Tales” #15 (December 1972). Mike Friedrich and Gil Kane make Barbara Morse into Bobbi Morse, Agent 19 of S.H.I.E.L.D. specializing in biology and now the love interest of Ka-Zar.
The love between a super-spy and a jungle king would not last forever and Bobbi Morse went her own way. In “Marvel Super Action” #1 (January 1976), Friedrich wanted to return to the character he had a hand in developing. Finding Bobbi Morse to be an ideal candidate for his new story, he set about revamping the heroine into someone new.
Morse became the Huntress, a costumed spy who was dispatched to uncover corruption in the Latin America SHIELD branch. This one-shot story took Morse off the SHIELD grid as she began looking for moles in the spy group from the outside.
The role of the Huntress carried over into the character’s next appearance in “Marvel Team-Up” #95 (July 1980) but this time she was known as Mockingbird. Writer Steven Grant and artist Bruce Patterson continued the mission that Mockingbird began as the Huntress to weed out corruption within SHIELD this time she teamed up with Spider-Man.
The Avenger who loved me
Her first few appearances were spread out over a few years with no regular appearances, but that all changed when writer/artist Mark Gruenwald released “Hawkeye” #1 (September 1983). This four issue series set Mockingbird’s origin in stone and introduced the character to the Avenger Hawkeye. The two fell in love and by the end of the series they were married.
Now a full-fledged costumed hero with no super powers, Mockingbird relies on expert level hand-to-hand combat skills learned as a member of SHIELD and a pair of extending batons that she can use to perform all sorts of acrobatics as well as put the beat down on the bad guys. All of this compliments her PhD in biology showing there are brains behind this brawn.
West Coast Avengers
Mockingbird’s skills as a spy and her adventures in costume proved her worth as a hero and when her husband was chosen to lead a new team of Avengers this time set on the West Coast of the United States, Mockingbird was his first choice to join the team. Writer Roger Stern and artist Bob Hall formally made Mockingbird a member of the Avengers in “West Coast Avengers” #1 (September 1984).
Mockingbird and Hawkeye were inseparable and a couple in love. The two starred with the rest of the team as the West Coast Avengers got a regular series. The two even launched a new series “Solo Avengers” (December 1987) where Hawkeye starred with Mockingbird as his frequent partner and sometimes she got a solo story herself.
By love betrayed
During the events of “Lost n Space and Time” a seven part story that ran through “West Coast Avengers” 17-23 (February-August 1987) Mockingbird was kidnapped by the ghostly Phantom Rider in the year 1876. She is drugged and brainwashed into believing she loves the Phantom Rider. When she finally shakes off the effects she lets the Phantom Rider fall to his death.
While she did not have a hand in killing the Phantom Rider, Hawkeye takes a harsh response to his wife letting someone die. His belief that Avengers don’t kill led him to become estranged with his wife and the two separated with Mockingbird leaving at first with her own team of Avengers and then solo again.
Betraying the Vision
Mockingbird would return to the Avengers with the “Vision Quest” story by John Byrne in “West Coast Avengers” 42-45 (March-June 1989). In the story the Mockingbird is duped by the types of agents she used to hunt down into betraying the Avengers. She thinks she is working with SHIELD to aid them in building a contingency plan to neutralize the Vision should he ever go rogue. When she realizes her mistake she races to help the Avengers.
This return helped to start mending fences with her former husband Hawkeye and the two would leave the West Coast to help train a new team of heroes known as the Great Lakes Avengers. Mockingbird and Hawkeye would pop up from time to time sometimes bickering other times as a couple. The stories in “Avengers West Coast” (previously “West Coast Avengers) and “Avengers Spotlight” (previously “Solo Avengers”) depicted both versions of the couple.
After the cancellation of “Avengers Spotlight” Mockingbird was out of regular action for a few years appearing only as an Avengers alternate member in sporadic appearances.
A return to the West Coast
In “Avengers West Coast” #89 (December 1992), Mockingbird would return to the Avengers. It seemed that she and Hawkeye were on the path to reconciliation leading up to the events of “Avengers West Coast” #100 (November 1993). But the reunion was not to last as the demon Mephisto killed Mockingbird in a story by Roy Thomas and Dave Ross.
It was a skrull
Mockingbird remained “dead” in the comics for 17 years. In the events of “Secret Invasion” (2008) by Brian Michael Bendis and Lenil Francis Yu it was revealed that the Mockingbird who died was a shape-shifting Skrull. Mockingbird had been replaced by the Skrull as part of their alien invasion of Earth. Once the plot was ultimately foiled the real Mockingbird and a cast of other heroes were returned to Earth.
Reunited and it feels so bad
In the pages of “New Avengers the Reunion” (2009) by Jim McCann and David Lopez it was revealed that Mockingbird was not out to mend fences between her and Hawkeye. All those years earlier she had returned to the West Coast to finish the divorce. Undaunted Hawkeye tried to mend fences but at last they realized they were too far apart. Mockingbird would found the World Counter-terror Agency and then would resume her role as an Avenger in “New Avengers.”
It was in “New Avengers” #13 (August 2011) by Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato Jr. that a fatally wounded Mockingbird was given the Infinity Formula to save her life. The formula slows her aging and pushes her body to the peak of physical level. A rapid recovery puts her back into action.
Mockingbird would go on to be a member of the “Secret Avengers” a team of Avengers working closely with SHIELD. The events of the storyline in “Secret Avengers” 12-16 (February-April 2014) titled “To Maim a Mockingbird” had a tremendous impact on the current status of the character.