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'Black Widow: No Restraints Play' tpb Review

Comic Books

‘Black Widow: No Restraints Play’ tpb Review

A good adventure into the depths of evil featuring a well written Black Widow.

Black Widow a year from now is going to be the hottest thing since sliced bread. Okay, maybe that’s an overstatement, but with Marvel revealing Black Widow is getting her own movie next spring and the Soska sisters writing a recently collected series for the character how can you not see her stock going up?

So what’s it about?

The official summary reads:

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Natasha Romanoff was trained to kill. For years now she’s 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. Jen and Sylvia Soska – The Twisted Twins of horror – join with rising artist Flaviano to weave a web of vice, violence, and vengeance that will net Natasha the biggest bad men she’s ever faced…or put her back in the ground for good.

Why does this matter?

Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?

'Black Widow: No Restraints Play' tpb Review

Nice introduction of the character.
Credit: Marvel Comics

This book opens on New Year’s Eve in New York City. It sets up the relationship between Captain America and Black Widow well and gives readers a banger action sequence to start things off. The Soska sisters do a good job with Black Widow, making her quite the spy. She’s sort of running the show and Cap shows her respect so you know she’s on top of her game. As the story unfolds there’s plenty of action, some good twists, and a plot that seems to stuff this book with a lot of content. This leads to the eventual changing of location and the main story at hand.

The art by Flaviano with colors by Veronica Gandini has an ever so slight manga feel that drives home the kinetic energy in the action scenes. Black Widow is not overly sexualized and you’ll feel the incredible emotions she goes through as she comes to grip with true evil. She also has an acrobatic look that suits her fight style and helps highlight the impressive prowess of the character. The use of color is nice splashing brightness with a more subdued color palette on the characters themselves. You get the sense this is fun, but also serious in its subject matter.

'Black Widow: No Restraints Play' tpb Review

Nice flip there BW.
Credit: Marvel Comics

It can’t be perfect, can it?

That bit about fun but also serious doesn’t quite work throughout. There’s some horrifying stuff at work here like a little girl with her arms bandaged after being chopped off and the art style isn’t quite right for it. It’s certainly rendered in a dark way but it’s not realistic enough to balance with the disturbing imagery and subject matter. That throws off the narrative making things feel not quite right.
A reoccurring weakness of this series is the cliffhangers. The first one drops a threat on the reader that doesn’t have much context. In another, we’re supposed to believe Black Widow is murdered, but that isn’t the case. In fact, we’re lead to believe Black Widow is murdered in the final cliffhanger too. It’s weak and manipulative of the reader rather than interesting or captivating.

Is it good?

A good adventure into the depths of evil featuring a well written Black Widow. The Soska sisters have proven they have the chops to write interesting stories with a horrifying twist. Now they just need to perfect it.

'Black Widow: No Restraints Play' tpb Review
Black Widow: No Restraints Play
Is it good?
The creators have a great handle of the character
Action scenes work well and there are plenty of good ideas at work
The art style doesn't quite work with the adult themes and disturbing elements
Many of the cliffhangers are fake-outs or ineffective

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