Story: Nathan Edmondson
Art: Phil Noto
What They Say:
From the cold streets of old Russia, the Hand of God reaches out to crush Black Widow–and it is merciless. Outmatched by the brute force of a powerful new villain, Natasha finds a deadly plot unfolding that spans the entire globe.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The first few issues of Black Widow have done a decent job of working the standalone stories so that we get to know Natasha a bit and the way she operates. Though she’s a fairly well known character, a lot of what we get is her time working in the big leagues with powerful allies and opponents, and that doesn’t always really utilize aspects of her background in the real and grounded way that it should. So with a touch of slowly humanizing her before, some solid internal narration and a good look at a few jobs around the world, we got a decent handle on her before things moved to her taking on a job with SHIELD, something that she notes pays next to nothing but is still something that must be done. Which makes it sound like she needs a new contract with them.
That mission has her off to the Ukraine here where it’s a basic information gathering gig that has her playing the role of security company saleswoman with lots of brochures, which will get her into the target’s location so she can plant a few well placed bugs. Unfortunately, there’s a group that’s looking to make a big statement with a certain kill behind a religious thrust as a man named Molot, who comes across like a big, bold Russian iron monk, is making his move at the same time. That has the feeling of some real chaos to it as we see how Natasha was not expecting that from this job and it has her going all out to capture the guy and figure out what the real deal is. That doesn’t go quite as planned, but it’s interesting to see her take a solid hit that puts one arm out of commission for a bit, forcing her to work through the pain as the job goes on.
Discovering that they’re after a Ukrainian ambassador that’s now down in Cape Town, South Africa, that shifts the job there and show some of the amusing problems that she has as a spy getting her gear around, even with protected diplomatic bags that SHIELD may have supplied her with. Trying to keep the ambassador alive is her goal, but it’s a hard one as Molot goes big and public once again in trying to eliminate him, which has her getting a bit frustrated by the fact that it’s not really her preferred method of dealing with things, being a spy and all. Some of the minor nods to her fellow Avengers is nice and I also liked the pages in the book that has her talking with Director Hill about the mission, both at the start and as things get more complicated, because there’s a lot of unknowns going on here that frustrates both of them as they prefer to be fully in the loop.
While we’ve had the standalone stories with some character material to bind it through so far, this one flips the script and is focused more on the work and less on the character – and it’s going to go for at least a two chapter run. There’s a lot of uncertainty about this since the bad guys are basically running in the shadows, we don’t know much about Molot beyond the fact that he’s big, bad, possibly a zealot and working for someone else, so it’s hard to have a rally point that can get you engaged with the villain. Natasha’s time is good as we see her going from the expected boring, detail oriented intelligence work to something full of action and watching as she copes with it and rolls with some big punches and more. I’m definitely curious where it’ll go, but the foundation for the story feels like it’s skeletal at best, which makes it hard to really invest in it or those involved.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Marvel Comics via ComiXology
Release Date: March 12th, 2014