Posted January 24, 2014 by Alvin Minon in Comics

COMIC BOOK REVIEW: Follow Romanov’s quest for atonement starting with Black Widow #1

Agent. Avenger. Assassin.

She might be an Avenger and agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., but what doesn’t sit well with Natasha Romanov is how she’s also an ex-KGB assassin, with tons of blood in her hands and really bad things she has done in the past. In Marvel Now!‘s new series Black Widow, Romanov uses her unique skill set to atone for the things she did, in ways that her teams might not approve of.

Johansson or not, Natasha Romanov’s one of the most loved femme fatale characters of the Marvel Universe. We still don’t get to see what’ll be the conflict or where the story is going but Nathan Edmondson made sure that readers would get to know who our heroine is right away. The negotiation and the missions are some pretty convenient tools to let people know about Romanov: her past, what she does and how appealing she could be. She hates confrontations and follows her own set of rules. She has the skill set and the background, but she takes jobs to atone and not to make money, even if her lawyer insists that she go drop more Avenger stunts and make more money for the trusts she supports.

There’s this beauty I find in how the story was written by Edmondson. Newbies wouldn’t find any problem assuming that the voice talking to the suicide bomber in the beginning belongs to Romanov. The background story she shares? It’s a lie yet it’s confusing whether there’s some truth sprinkled on it or all of it is bollocks, making Romanov’s past more mysterious whether you’re an old Widow fan (what the heck do you call Black Widow fans anyway?) or not. Whether it’s the lies and deception, or the action and touch of personal drama, everything seems to be easy to swallow. Simple and elegant, without any problems moving on with the narrative.

Marvel Now! Black Widow #1 is amply titled Raison D’etre. Early on we’re given the idea that just as the title suggests, this will be about Black Widow. Black Widow not only referring to the Avenger, or agent or assassin. We would get to know who she is behind the action, who she really is before, her personality, her moral code and motivations. Somehow, this book reminds me of another comic that tells about what our Hawkeye, or Hawkeyes do outside their duties. However, this book for me seems heavier, as we question how long this atonement thing will be going on for Black Widow: a mission impossible that’s been a running theme for the character as we have no idea what kind of penance she’s looking for or where and when she’ll have that peace of mind.

Now who wouldn’t love Natasha?

The story’s easy to follow yet hits hard in the feels. And it hits harder given the work Phil Noto has done here. While there are parts where the reader might get irked by the palette or lack of details, overall I really liked how this book looks. First, the lines look crisp giving that more solid look to the characters against the palette and backgrounds. Second, there’s Noto’s use of the pages, adding more impact to Edmondson’s already heavy monologue scripts. It’s as if I could hear Romanov talking to herself in a cold voice talking about repentance and making up for her past sins. Finally, I seriously appreciate how Noto puts emphasis on Romanov’s features without over-sexualizing her. She has the flowing red hair and that mole on her left cheek. She looks lovely! And you’d get to appreciate her look which clearly lacks any of the usual focus on boobs and butt and body curves. Oh and none of those awkward female poses. Black Widow actually looks more human this time, as far as I could tell.

I really appreciate what Edmondson and Noto has done with Black Widow #1. It’s with the familiar theme of atonement and looking back at her past sins, but as of the moment it feels like a fresher take. No doubt the series will focus not on the action and the sexiness and bad-assery the assassin-agent-Avenger does, but rather emphasize her history and character development. Now that is something I’d follow and look forward to!

Review Score:

A must-read for old and new Black Widow fans! Grab your copy from Comic Odyssey now!

Alvin Minon