Hot on the trial of a new enemy, the Black Widow finds a familiar one, and ends up captured. But is she trapped with them, or are they trapped with her? Your Major Spoilers review of Black Widow #6 awaits!
Previously in Black Widow: “Natasha tracked Molot, the mad monk assassin known as the ‘Hammer Of God’, back to his boss, only to discover that it’s her old enemy Damon Dran, The Indestructible Man, looking much more… destructible. She was captured in the process…”
(I love it when the creators give you a meaningful recap at the beginning of the issue. It’s especially good for those of us prone to missing an issue here and there…)
THE WIDOW IS DEADLY
I have to say, I’ve really enjoyed how well done the Black Widow’s solo issues have been, even the parts of them that I don’t care for, and this issue is no exception, opening with Natasha bound, hung from the ceiling and taking a beating from multiple attackers. All the while she’s getting beat down, she’s assessing, planning, preparing, going so far as to think that her foes are hitting her with “punches of desperation”. It a moment that could go really bad, but this is the Black Widow we’re talking about, and she makes quick work of five mooks, without even untying her hands. She immediately bumps into Molot, who has been surgically altered with steel plating to make him even more deadly, and the real work begins. Phil Noto’s work on this book is pretty amazing, and quite unusual for a Big Four title, using subtler color palette and a softer line that isn’t really like most Marvel titles. This issue also makes me realize that part of the reason I’ve been a little bit lukewarm on the title is that his Natalia Romanova is more naturalistic looking, and less glam than her previous depictions (which says something about my own biases, now that I think about it.) In this issue, though, it’s a damn-near perfect look, allowing the hero to be equally as badass and gritty as her Avengers partner (and ex) Hawkeye.
I mention Hawkeye for two reason: First, this book is definitely following in the “street-level adventures” vein that his title brought back to the forefront at Marvel, and two, he makes a brief appearance in the book (but we’ll get to that in a moment.) One troubling moment in the book is the use of Maria Hill in her old “bitchy ice princess” role after getting to evolve past that in ‘Indestructible Hulk’ and elsewhere, and her moment of coldly telling her lieutenant that Black Widow is “a deniable asset,” like he and all other SHIELD agents, really bugs me for some reason. This issue also reiterates that things are still very wrong in Marvel’s espionage community, hinting at a broader conspiracy that may be related to the plot lines explored in ‘Captain America: The Winter Solder’. Given that SHIELD has only just rebuilt itself from the infiltration hijinks of Secret Invasion, I’m a bit weary of the ‘Who Can You Trust.’ As the issue ends we get the aforementioned Hawkguy appearance (and it’s really quite funny, as well as perfectly in keeping with his solo book’s tone), which I’m hoping is leading to a crossover between the two titles. Given that the Widow is unsure whom she can trust, perhaps working with an old friend (even one who’s something of a personal disaster) is the answer?
THE BOTTOM LINE: BLACK WIDOW RULES
All in all, this is a very solid issue, with spectacular, if unusual art, and a really strong take on the main character that manages to balance her existing character with the subtle differences of her movie incarnation, and it’s not afraid to put the Black Widow in the same situations as her male counterparts, taking the same beatings and dishing out the same retribution. I like that. Black Widow #6 is a straight-forward action-adventure that looks good, reads well and reminds us how awesome our protagonist can be, earning a very impressive 4 out of 5 stars overall. This title, along with Magneto, She-Hulk, Silver Surfer and half a dozen others really underlines how the Marvel NOW! strategy is giving new life to the characters deemed second or third-tier, and making them as intriguing as Captain Whatsisname and Thunder-Hair guy, and I hope to see more of the neglected heroes in the future.
(Fingers crossed for Captain Ultra by Slott and Bagley!)