Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.
This week I’m revisiting one of the best books being published right now: Black Widow from Marvel Comics. I reviewed the first issue of the current run back in March, and as Marvel are doing a new ‘Marvel NOW!’ launch, I thought I’d review issue #7 as the start of the ‘No More Secrets’ story arc. Black Widow is being co-written by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee, with art by Samnee, colours by Matt Wilson and letters from Joe Caramagna.
Widow has defeated the Weeping Lion, the man threatening to expose her past and a host of S.H.I.E.L.D. secrets to the world. Discovering that he possesses telepathic abilities, Natasha recruits him in her mission to stop her old Red Room Headmistress and her daughter Recluse, who have resumed recruiting young girls and training them as assassins in the new ‘Dark Room’. Together, Widow and Lion sneak into the Greenland Sea Base, while the rest of the issue flashes back to Natasha’s first kill mission.
Wait and Samnee continue to display how well they understand the character of Natasha Romanoff and what makes a truly great spy-craft story with this issue. This book has been one of the strongest offerings from Marvel in recent memory (and is mercifully untouched by Civil War II thus far), and the latest issue doesn’t break that streak. Razor-sharp dialogue permeates the book, and despite her recent set backs Black Widow remains stoic and formidable (and even a bit of a dick at the end, almost like she wants to create a new enemy for herself). Interestingly, while the art and writing are both of a top-notch quality throughout, they are given distinct parts of this issue to shine. The showdown at the end of the book between Widow and Weeping Lion, and the Headmistress and Recluse is driven by dialogue rather than action, allowing the characters and the plot room to stretch out, even if it is amidst some stunning visuals.
However, it is in the flashback to Natasha’s first kill mission where the art gets to truly impress, and is really the most impressive part of this issue. The young Black Widow engages in some utterly brutal violence (it is a kill mission after all) to a degree that is all the more stunning coming from a child. Samnee’s art seems to step up a gear with every issue, and this sequence was possibly the best yet. The detached horror and fury from the young assassin’s face is chilling, and the montage of the implications of her kill showcases some excellent character work and panel design. Matt Wilson’s colours work superbly along with Samnee’s art, with the flashback scenes washed with a warm sepia tone and the present day steeped in the shadows and dark palette of the final confrontation in a spy movie, interspersed with the violent flash of colour of the discharge of firearms.
Black Widow is one of the best books on the stands right now. It’s definitely my favourite Marvel book (just beating out Mighty Thor), and when I look back on this year I’d be hard-pressed to think of another comic that I have enjoyed more. With gorgeous art, razor-sharp dialogue and a slick spy story, this is a must-buy. Check it out at your local comic book shop or online doo-dad now!
Score: 9.5 Exploding Heads out of 10