11th Sep2020

‘Black Widow #1’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Kelly Thompson | Art by Elena Casagrande | Published by Marvel Comics

For me, Black Widow has always been one of those characters that works best as a guest star, or a co-star in a book, rather than headlining her own. I’m not entirely sure why, as she’s now quite a strong well defined character, but her high points have been partnering Daredevil back in the day, a run I still love, and as part of groups like the Champions and the Avengers. Her Russian spy roots are still in evidence today with her love/hate relationship with S.H.I.E.L.D. Perhaps that’s the problem, Natasha is just too versatile as a character. She can do straight solo superheroics, she can do Bourne style spy stuff, and she can do team books. All that being said, when handled well she’s a great character, and one who’s stock has never been higher thanks to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It doesn’t hurt that she’s had some great outfits down the years either, a modern take on the Emma Peel look usually.
But I digress.

Behind some great covers for this launch issue we also have a decent all female creative team. Kelly Thompson writes and Elena Casagrande draws. The first handful of pages are the comic book equivalent of a long establishing shot, showing us Widow in action and just reminding us how good she is, called in for help by Captain America no less. There is also a reminder that Natasha and Clint Barton, Hawkeye, are not on the best of terms at the moment. I’m guessing we’ll see more of that down the line. For now, Natasha is off home for a well deserved rest. When she gets home, her own spidey-sense (spy-sense? Widow warning?) kicks in and she realises her home has been compromised. The little traps she leaves have been triggered. She realises a fraction too late she is still being watched, and is shot by tranquiliser darts and falls out her several story high window.

Three months later…

We are in San Francisco, and Nat is seemingly working as an architect. Say what now? It’s clearly Natasha, but it’s seemingly not Black Widow. What happened to her in those 3 months? Retired? Mindwiped? Hmmm. I’m not the only one confused, as Hawkeye catches sight of her on a random new programme. He contacts Bucky (or Winter Soldier if you prefer) and they both realise she has not been heard from in 3 months. Although she does disappear for weeks at a time on missions, this doesn’t seem to be one of those times. Looks like a trip to San Francisco is in their future. Natasha meanwhile seems to be living the dream. Fast motorbikes, Chinese takeaways, big house, attractive boyfriend…but is it real? The big reveal on the last page tells us what we have been probably guessing all along. A major Marvel villain is involved, and it’s Day 47. I suspect Natasha’s perfect world won’t stay that way much longer.

This was a very nice first issue, with the story organically driving the characters actions nicely. Thompson writes some great dialogue and some nice scenes, but is not afraid to let the artist do some of the heavy lifting at times. Some of the strongest pages have next to no text at all, reminding you that Widow is often about actions not words. I like the way that both her genres, spies and superheroes, are nicely entwined, with a little dash of mystery thriller too. It’s a tasty cocktail for sure. Casagrande’s art is perfect for the book, her layouts and pacing are especially strong, and the variety of colour schemes by Jordie Bellaire throughout really define the mood of the story.

I wouldn’t say this is an essential pick up unless you have a love of the character or the creators, but if you do pick it up you won’t be disappointed. It’s a good read.

Good girls do, it seems, wear black.

**** 4/5

Black Widow #1 is out now from Marvel Comics.

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