Story: Nathan Edmondson
Art: Phil Noto
What They Say:
The entity behind the attacks sits alone and mysterious on the dark water–can Natasha infiltrate the floating lair? Black Widow’s strength and cunning will be put to the test as she takes on her most dangerous mission yet!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The path of this arc is one that has frustrated in some ways because you end up feeling like Natasha where you’re not sure what’s going on or where it’s going. That can be a thrill ride sometimes, but with a paced espionage style book like this, it feels like you’re not able to trust anything and it just kind of washes over you. With her being captured by Daman previously off the coast of Montenegro with a mission that didn’t exactly go well, we had the reveal of him being behind it and got a good look at just what kind of condition he’s in as he’s not quite the Indestructible Man that we knew before. But he has what a lot of villains have in a number of goons to do his handiwork.
And they do just that with Natasha, giving her a proper beating on board the ship, which is rather well played from her point of view as she talks about how she reads them in the way they beat her, as it reveals more about them than anything and gives her what she needs in order to act properly to break free, take them down and escape. She’s engaging to watch, through Noto’s great panel layouts, as we see her work the room and move forward in her mission. Of course, things have to be stupidly complicated as she has to deal with one opponent I had hoped we’d see no more of as Molot is there, completely ironed up after his previous fight with her. Silly me, thinking he was actually dead by going through the engine of a plane. That match-up here isn’t much to write home about though, It’s decently done, but I have zero interest in Molot as he’s simply not compelling.
It is a bit more interesting when Natasha gets to confront Daman, trying to figure out what it is he’s up to and what he’s really afraid of, but even that feels vague in a way that just doesn’t make it compelling either. With him quickly remanded into SHIELD custody, it provides a potential plot point to work with in the future, but it instead goes in a more familiar pattern as he’s killed by a SHIELD agent that’s working for this mysterious other side, who promptly kills himself as well in order to make it clear his level of dedication. All in all, it’s a lot of setup material that makes it clear to both Maria and Natasha that there is a bigger unknown threat out there to deal with and they really don’t even have the first clue at this stage as to what it is or where to investigate next. But it’s out there, somewhere, and the other side certainly knows them.
When the best part of the book is the couple of pages of epilogue material with Natasha and Isaiah, I’m not sure that says a lot for the book. I liked these pages because it humanized Natasha and had a perfect moment with Clint Barton for a moment that just makes you smile. The bulk of the book works through the conclusion of the arc that Natasha has dealt with when it comes to whatever new big bad is out there orchestrating things. But there are no answers, no real clues, so it feels empty in a way that doesn’t really engage. I’ve liked the overall growth I’ve seen from Natasha in the six issues that I’ve got here, but the book as a whole hasn’t been compelling. It looks great and Phil Noto definitely gives it the kind of feeling that it needs, but it doesn’t feel like it knows what kind of stories to tell about the character. It’s not a bad thing to spend time working on thawing her out a bit in a way, but there’s not enough here to really latch onto that makes you want to come back month after month unfortunately.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Marvel Comics via ComiXology
Release Date: My 7th, 2014