Comic Review – Black Widow #1 (Marvel Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

After a bit of a break, we are back with our weekly comic reviews! Warning: minor spoilers.

“Finally I can let my monster loose, the killer I was meant to be.” Black Widow

Cover art by Crain (Marvel)

Sorry for the long break between my reviews, I’m back now for 2019 and glad to be here! Conveniently my first day back coincided with the release of a new Black Widow series from Marvel. Black Widow is someone I first really got to know through the MCU, and while I’ve seen some of her adventures in the comic series, these have often been vicariously via cameos in other books. Additionally, the 2016 Waid and Samnee run was recommended to me countless times and is a series I regret not picking up before. This latest run is bought to us by:

  • Writers – Jen and Sylvia Soska
  • Artist – Flaviano
  • Colour Artist – Veronica Gandini
  • Letterer – VC’s Joe Caramagna
  • Cover artist – Clayton Crain

The series begins with a team up between Captain America and Black Widow, providing an interesting dynamic considering the climax of things between them during the events of the recent Secret Empire. This is referenced heavily, explaining Black Widow’s current non-Avenger status in the world as well as what she has come through in recent comic book history. Reading this felt like a throw back to the Secret Empire run with the intention to draw a line under it for Black Widow to move on from. Additionally, her dialogue with Cap establishes her key motivation and attitude that will be sure to form the running theme throughout this series, specifically it frame this Black Widow as one who is more than happy to get some blood on her hands to put criminals and villains to a permanent end.

Art by Flaviano, Gandini and Caramagna (Marvel)

After the resolution of things between her and Cap she’s off to lead on her own solo mission that is yet to be defined, with her objective only becoming clear during the final pages of the issue, which will presumably become the initial main conflict. Jen and Sylvia Soska have framed this series as a violent and bloody one with Black Widow no longer held back from the Avengers or the morality of other characters.

The main criticism I would raise against this issue is how although Flaviano and Gandini’s art is very good, it feels a little out of place considering the tone of the story. Were this art in say a Squirrel Girl, Spider-Man or other more light-hearted run it would be right at home. The art is colourful, and the action scenes feel reminiscent of the super hero cartoons that I fell in love with as a kid. The scenery and backgrounds are vibrant and bring the nightlife and settings to life, although I would have expected more muted tones. Caramagna’s lettering is worked into the issue well, providing robust and functional dialogue throughout without much of a call for anything fancy to be done.

 

Final Verdict

Black Widow is presented as a hard drinking killer willing to do what other’s won’t. This feels like a return to the traditional portrayal of Black Widow, who I certainly want to get to know more. I have criticised the art style, however that is less to do with the quality, more to do with the contrast against the story. This is purely based on the one issue however, and the story may develop to where its pairing with the art may become more apparent.

The Lost Lighthouse: The Weekly Rapture 78 – One Wolf

Welcome back to The Weekly Rapture, our fortnightly pop culture news and reviews podcast!


Download this episode (right click and save)

Big News

This week we chatted about the Spider-Man Homecoming and for some reason, Transformers: The Last Knight trailers, The Last of Us Part II and Gotham City Sirens.

2016 Review

This week we go through our top 3 video games, films, books and TV shows from 2016, with a few lists from others too!

Adam

Video Games

3. Alienation

2. Gone Home

1. Uncharted 4

TV Shows

3. Daredevil

2. Stranger Things

1. Westworld

Comics

3. Wonder Woman – DC, by Greg Rucka, Liam Sharp and

2. Superman – DC, by Patrick Gleason and Peter J. Tomasi

1. Black Widow – Marvel, by Chris Samnee and Mark Waid

Films

3. Deadpool

2. Doctor Strange

1. Captain America: Civil War

 

Ian

Video Games

3. Pokémon GO

2. Star Wars Battlefront

1. Doom

TV Shows

3. Luke Cage

2. Planet Earth II

1. Stranger Things

Books

2. The Devil You Know by Erin M. Evans

1. Hero by R.A. Salvatore

Films

3.  Captain America: Civil War

2. Midnight Special

1. 10 Cloverfield Lane

 

Now Playing – Reading/Watching/Playing

Adam – Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudia Gray/Mad Men on Sky/Bioshock Infinite (Bioshock Collection) on PS4
Ian – The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi/X-Files/Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Check out any of those through those Amazon links and we get a kick back! Or you can go through here.

You can as always get in touch through Facebook or on Twitter @lost_lighthouse, email us at thelostlighthouse@live.co.uk or sound off in the ‘leave a reply’ box at the bottom of the podcast page on the website.Fancy supporting our site? Head on over to our Paypal donation page! It’s completely optional, set your own price! Even £1 helps us with hosting costs and we’d really appreciate it! Cheers!

Comic Review – Black Widow #7 (Marvel Comics)

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.

black-widow-7

Cover art by Samnee & Wilson

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.

black-widow-interiors

Art by Samnee & Wilson, letters from Caramagna

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

Comic Review – Black Widow #1 (Marvel Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. He missed reviewing them while he tries to write up his PhD thesis, so every other week he’ll be reviewing one, with potential minor spoilers.

More Marvel first issues! This week I picked up the highly anticipated Black Widow #1 from the team behind the critically lauded Daredevil run that ended in late 2015 – co-written by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee, with art by Samnee, colours by Matt Wilson (as I suspected, he does colour everything I’m reading!) and letters from VC’s Joe Caramagna. Black Widow #1 was published by Marvel Comics.

BWNatasha Romanoff is on the run from S.H.I.E.L.D. The super spy has taken something from her (presumably now former) employers, and their leader Maria Hill wants her stopped at all costs. This first issue picks right up in the middle of the action, as Natasha is declared an enemy of S.H.I.E.L.D. and she attempts a daring escape from a helicarrier, cutting a brutal path through scores of agents that are trying to catch and pursue her. We don’t know what she’s taken, but it must be incredibly important (and considering S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hill’s recent behaviour, fairly damning) for the organisation to disavow one of their most valuable agents.

Black Widow #1 is very light on dialogue, with Romanoff herself uttering a single line right at the end of the issue and most of the rest coming from the agents desperately trying to capture her. This serves to let the action come to the forefront of the book, with no one pontificating or dragging the pace down with exposition. Widow has taken something. S.H.I.E.L.D. wants it back. Go. The pacing and style therefore mirrors in a way the elevator scene in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, where Cap is suddenly faced with scores of agents trying to take him down. This feels very much like a direct and intentional homage to that, while simultaneously raising the stakes with regards to the action.

BW2And the action is superbly drawn by Samnee. With both him and Waid co-writing the book, it seems that Samnee had a lot of input on the flow of the story and as a result the action within. Natasha wrecks agents left and right, silently and brutally taking down all comers. Despite the pace and dealing with multiple figures, many of whom are in the same uniform, the fighting never gets confusing or muddled. When the issue becomes a city-wide chase scene, the speed and intensity is palpable. The line art is bold and incredibly dynamic, with an excellent variation across the book. And god damn that double page spread of the helicarrier as a title page was beautiful.

I joke about Wilson seemingly colouring every book I read (and it’s not quite true, but close!), but with every comic he brings something totally different that fits and really enhancing an already great looking issue. There’s a vibrancy to the helicarrier escape as Natasha runs through (or breaks through) the sterile corridors, a washed out late-afternoon glow to the chase scenes and a moody, bloody end-of-the-film style hue to the sunset showdown at the end.

The first issue of the new run on Black Widow is an excellent display of a creative team at the top of their game. These folks know how to bring out the best in each other, and it shines in this book. Marvel needs to stop putting out so many books that I can’t stop reading. Pick this up at your local comic book shop or digital comics app now!

Score: 9.5 Jetpacks out of 10

Comic Review – Thor #8

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he reviews of one of them, with potential minor spoilers.

As Secret Wars continues to roll on, we’ve started to see the end of a few Marvel Comics series before the entire landscape of the Marvel Universe changes at the end of the event. This week Thor finished with issue #8, wrapping up the first run for the new Goddess of Thunder introduced after Odinson became unworthy to wield the hammer Mjolnir and a mystery woman picked it up instead. Thor was published by Marvel Comics, written by Jason Aaron and drawn by Russell Dauterman, with colours by Matthew Wilson and letters from VC’s Joe Sabino. Although this was the last issue in this run, Aaron will be writing the upcoming Thors tie in to Secret Wars, so it won’t be the end of the story.

At the end of the last issue, Thor was confronted by the Destroyer, controlled by Cul at the behest of his brother Odin the All-Father. Furious that someone else has taken the hammer, the Destroyer was sent to claim it back. However, a whole host of heroes turned up to aide her, including Captain Marvel, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Freya the All-Mother, Odinson and Lady Sif along with various other Asgardians. The group work together to fight the machine, but it’s still a tough battle. Afterwards, Odinson speaks to Thor, desperate to finally find out her identity. He’s narrowed his list down to just one name, certainly made easier after a large number of the candidates fought alongside them just now, and just wants her to admit it and tell him how. He even promises to share the words that Nick Fury told him that made him unworthy… until the person he thought he was talking to turned up to shout at them both. Taking the opportunity to avoid further questions, Thor flies away to hide out in secret. But on the final page, her identity is revealed just to the readers.

This was another great issue from Jason Aaron, and I am very sad to see this book go as it was one of my most anticipated every time it was due. Every issue was really solid superhero storytelling, with a compelling mystery behind the new Thor’s identity, further machinations from both villains and supposed gods and brilliant dialogue. Throughout, the juxtaposition between the inner monologue of a woman that was clearly from Earth (or at least not from Asgardia) and the flowery Shakespearian language that was spoken aloud was a lot of fun to read. Dauterman’s art has been excellent too, to the extent that I found that I really missed it during the fill-in issue after the first arc. Here it really with the opportunity to draw so many of the Marvel heroines taking on the Destroyer, with an array of different attacks that look great, and Wilson’s colours help to make them pop out of the page.

Thor ended this short run as strongly as it started, and I’m reassured that the reason for it ending is due to Secret Wars and not due to sales, which were pretty good according to Aaron on the letters page. For anyone that dismissed this series because they ‘didn’t like Thor turning into a chick’, pull your head out of your rectum and actually give things a chance rather than having a knee jerk reaction. The Goddess of Thunder has been a great character to read, and while I’m sure Odinson will lift the hammer again (and Steve will return to being Cap, and Tony will stop being even more of a douche. Calm down nerds) I hope this new Thor remains, even if it ends up being through some form of comic book handwavery (I’m going to guess that Secret Wars ends with 2 Mjolnirs on Earth-616). Pick this up at your LCS or digitally.

Score: 9 Frost Giants out of 10