Black Widow #1 (Marvel)

BWidow1

Rating: 5/5 – A pitch-perfect debut of Marvel’s premiere femme fatale.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Lawrence Arboleda.

Fans have been clamoring for a new Black Widow ongoing series since the Avengers hit the big screen over a year ago. Thanks to the All-New Marvel NOW! initiative, they finally get their wish as the character gets a relaunch with Nathan Edmonson doing script duties and Phil Noto handling the art. And as far as debut issues go, this one has exceeded my expectations in a big way.

Black Widow is many things. She’s an agent, an Avenger, and an assassin. Strangely enough, we don’t know really know anything about her, and she insists on keeping it that way.  What we do know is that almost everything she does is motivated by an intense longing to atone for the sins of her past, a burning obsession to “clear the red in her ledger,” so to speak.  I have to admit that “Atonement” as a recurring theme sounded trite and cliche to me at first, but I was pleasantly surprised by how Nathan Edmonson’s scripts have used that tired trope in ways that made the title fresh and engaging. The issue was action-packed right from the get-go and provided a showcase for Nathasha Romanoff’s myriad talents, which is not to say that the story lacked depth. If anything, Nathan Edmonson has deftly demonstrated his writing chops by integrating the action scenes with subtle characterization, showing us that there are more shades to the protagonist’s character than meets the eye. But what I love most about Black Widow is that in spite of the shady nature of her work, she is, for all intents and purposes, working on the side of the angels. I was particularly impressed by how the writing in this issue has showed that aspect of her character.

Phil Noto’s art is some of the best I’ve seen coming out of the Big Two in recent years. His loose yet clean lines have a unique dynamism that imbue the interiors with a neo-retro aesthetic, a vibe that blends well with the superspy elements of the comic. The monochromatic color schemes are beautiful to behold and add so much gravity to every character beat in the narrative. I also found his facial work subtle and on-point, especially on Natasha Romanoff. His visuals alone gave Natasha Romanoff that much needed depth, which is made even more impressive when you consider that she is a character who maintains a stoic bearing most of the time.

Black Widow #1 is a solid start to the series; it’s action-packed and replete with character moments that lend more depth and complexity to the protagonist. Phil Noto’s art also makes this one of the most visually breathtaking comics on the stands right now. This comic has adopted the perfect tone for the titular character and it’ll be interesting to see how this series will develop in the upcoming issues. Bring on issue #2!

Reviewed by: Lawrence Arboleda – lawrence@comicspectrum.com
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