Back from the dead, Natasha Romanoff is ready to settle some scores.  Your Major Spoilers review of Black Widow #1 awaits!

BLACK WIDOW #1

Writer: Jen & Sylvia Soska
Artist: Flaviano
Colorist: Veronica Gandini
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Editor: Jake Thomas
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: January 16, 2019

Previously in Black Widow:  Natasha Romanoff was trained to kill.  For years, she tried to overcome that programming, to side with the angels… to be a hero.  And where’d that get her?  Killed.  By one of the few true friends she allowed herself to have.  Now she’s back from the dead, angry as hell and finding those better angels harder and harder to hear. Now, Natasha will bring down the biggest bad men she’s ever faced… or they’ll put her back in the ground for good.

DATELINE: MADRIPOOR

We open on New Year’s Eve, as Captain America arrives at a particular party, much to the consternation of the crowds, who still aren’t quite over ‘Secret Empire.’  Of course, the security in the building are bothered for another reason: Captain America is already inside!  Fortunately, he’s working with Black Widow, who sneaks through the ventilation to take down a number of saboteurs before facing down the fake Cap, who wants to set off Madbombs and drive New York around the bend.  There’s tension in their relationship, but Cap and the Widow successfully bring down the terrorists, with Natasha setting of immediately for new shores.  She lands in Madripoor, city of crime and all sorts o’ mean, nasty stuff (wearing an eyepatch, in a sly throwback to 80s Wolverine’s solo series), immediately getting into a fight when she asks a prostitute whether or not she’s being treated well.  She makes her way to Tyger Tiger, the closest thing to law that Madripoor has, but before they can hash out the details of her new life, an unknown malefactor arrives with murder in his eyes…

AN IMPRESSIVE DEBUT

This is a really nice first issue in terms of story, cleverly inserting the explanation of what happened to Nat (murdered by Captain America’s doppelganger, cloned back to life by the very spy agency that trained her, forced to kill every person in that same spy place, still officially dead) since we last saw her into dialogue and character interaction rather than having a huge infodump.  The story rolls naturally, dealing with her bottomless rage and how to channel it.  She almost murders the fake Cap before real Cap stops her, so the move to Madripoor seems like it makes perfect sense and sets up an exciting new status quo for Natasha.  I’m less in love with the art in these pages, however.  It’s not precisely bad, but it’s cartoonish proportions and facial expressions don’t really gel with the story being told to me.  Flaviano does good work in the combat sequences, though, and the sight of Natasha in a white pantsuit and eyepatch is really striking, so I could conceivably warm up to the art, especially given how fluid and interesting Widow’s body language is throughout the issue.

BOTTOM LINE: A GOOD NUMBER ONE

With a whole new setting, a whole new attitude and a solid, effective reason FOR those changes, Black Widow #1 does the very difficult job of taking one of Marvel’s highest-profile characters and giving her a brand new bag, with art that doesn’t quite mesh but also isn’t terrible, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall.  The potential at which this issue hints could make for a terribly memorable run of Black Widow, so I’m fully on-board for more from this creative team.


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BLACK WIDOW #1

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Taking Natasha and sticking her in Madripoor is a stroke of genius, and I'm hoping this book will be the Black Widow what Wolverine's solo series was for him in 1988.

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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