Natasha Romanoff is an ex-KGB assassin, an ex-agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and sometime Avenger. She has tried to use her unique skill set to atone for her past, but atonement is not erasure. Sooner or later, the past comes prowling back… Your Major Spoilers review of Black Widow #6 awaits!
Previously in Black Widow: The Weeping Lion, who gathers secrets through psychic eavesdropping, blackmailed Black Widow into working for him, until she failed a task and her secret was released, causing the Lion to lose his leverage. Natasha tracked down and defeated the Lion. Now Black Widow intends to use him against old enemies: the former Red Room Headmistress and her daughter, Recluse, who founded the Dark room a new school for child assassins. The Window won’t allow more girls to share her own fate.”
This issue begins in the frozen wastes of Greenland, with The Black Widow and the Weeping Lion (who is revealed to be a young teenage boy) infiltrating one of the headmistress’ secret bases. Interspersed with that are flashbacks to Natasha’s first kill, a bloody mission in which she takes down a Yugoslavian mobster who is also The Weeping Lion’s uncle. It’s really hard to read (especially when baby Black Widow gets stabbed in the side), made even more so by Samnee’s crisp art and some inspired sepia-tone coloring. In the present, the duo infiltrates the base, The Weeping Lion shows off his powers and gleeful willingness to kill, and The Headmistress does the unthinkable to keep from having all her secrets exposed. When the Recluse grabs a gun and threatens The Widow, Natasha shows the steel in her spine, derisively mocking her foe, slapping the gun out of her hands and deliver the verbal killing blow: “You don’t have a story, little one. You’re just a footnote in mine.”
As much as I sometimes complain about only having the option of grimdark spycraft stories, this book is an example that type of story done exactly right. Even after having her worst secret revealed, The Black Widow works for the greater good, and the reveals about Headmistress and Recluse are shocking, yet perfect. Samnee’s art adds drama and urgency throughout the issue, and his facial expressions are top-notch (especially the last page showing Weeping Lion remembering just how it is he has been forcibly allied with.) This book has to balance two difficult premises: The spy who used to be an assassin and the Avenger who has to be a hero, and it does so with aplomb. Add in incredible dialogue, and you’ve got yourself a winner from top to bottom.
THE BOTTOM LINE: BRUTAL BUT ELECTRIFYING
It’s not a comic book for the squeamish, nor is it a traditional tale of heroics, but Black Widow #6 is perfect single issue, delivering in terms of story, of art and of dialogue, and setting in motion plot points that are clearly going to come back around in future issues, earning a well-deserved 5 out 5 stars overall. If you haven’t been reading this book, you are missing quite the ride…