That Black Widow’s checkered past is being used to blackmail her into doing the bidding of a mysterious figure in the shadows. Can she break his hold over her before the worst occurs? Your Major Spoilers review of Black Widow #3 awaits!
Previously in Black Widow: “The ‘Weeping Lion’ is using the Black Widow’s darkest secret to blackmail her into doing his bidding, but she has been unable to determine to what end. She’s looking for a way to gain the upper hand, but in the meantime, he’s forced her to steal from S.H.I.E.L.D., making her an enemy of the dogged Agent Elder. And the Lion’s not through with Natasha yet…”
A DEADLY SPY…
It’s always great when a creative team hits on a tone and mode of storytelling that perfectly fits the character: Matt Fraction’s ‘Hawkeye’ series did it, as did the Frank Miller issues of ‘Daredevil’ a million years ago. This issue is a perfect example of how to do it right, as Waid & Samnee put us squarely in Black Widow’s world of spycraft and high-stakes espionage, with a caveat: The Black Widow speaks not a single word in this story. There are flashbacks of young Natasha in the legendary KGB spy-training arena, The Red Room (where the Weeping Lion has sent her to retrieve an unexplained bit of intelligence), and various people speak TO her during the issue, but all the character work for the Widow is done silently, through the art. It’s a lovely effect, and the flashback sequences give us unseen bits of her childhood (which also involve murder), and even a tiny bit of kindness in the midst of being shaped into a murderer and spy.
Chris Samnee knocks the block off the art this time around, starting with a sequence on a crowded New York street and moving effortlessly to take the Widow on this issue’s journey. The sheer amount of character delivered only by her movements and facial expressions is truly impressive, as is a fight sequence that isn’t a fight sequence (you really need to read it to understand) and the final pages with Natasha entering the catacombs beneath the Red Room while remembering her previous visit there are lovely.
And then there’s the final page, a moment that there’s literally no way to go into without more spoilers than I’m comfortable with. Suffice to say that it caught me entirely by surprise, and forced a re-read of the previous four pages, leaving me wanting next issue immediately.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A SHOCKING ENDING
This is a VERY good comic book, delivering a lot of story without a lot of pretense (or a lot of words, which makes the achievement even more impressive, when you think about it) and making it clear through deft and subtle art who our main character is. Black Widow #3 is surprisingly good, even for a book/creative team I always have high hopes for, with excellent art and a tense, well-rendered plot, earning a well-deserved 4.5 out of 5 stars overall. It’s Waid and Samnee, guys, you know it’s gonna be good stuff…