It seems fitting Black Widow is getting her own comic book just weeks after Marvel Studios announced Scarlett Johansson is suiting up to play the character again in May 2020. Even more fitting is the likes of Jody Houser and Stephen Mooney helming the new comic project Web of Black Widow, which hits comic stands tomorrow. Considering Houser’s writing credentials and Mooney’s exceptional ability to draw thriller spy dramas, I can’t help but think this is going to be a match made in heaven.
So what’s it about?
Read the preview.
Why does this matter?
Black Widow has had a hell of a few years — she has died, come back as a clone, and has been tamping down an identity crisis ever since. A series like this will likely center the character and position her well. Plus, this new series promises to explore her past as Natasha attempts to right wrongs from when she was an assassin in the notorious Red Room.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This issue opens at a New York fundraiser where we meet an unfamiliar woman with brown hair, but some sharp eyes. Natasha is in full disguise of course, and soon she’s running into Tony Stark who doesn’t fall for makeup and rubber masks. It’s a fun way to introduce Black Widow since it’d be impossible to know it was her otherwise. As the story pushes on we get key flashbacks that tie persons of interest at the party to Natasha’s youth as well as get a stellar action sequence. By the end it’s clear Natasha is making things right, but maybe the wrong way and knowing Iron Man is onto her can only mean more guest appearances!
The visual storytelling at work here is quite cool with some new ways of conveying information visualized well. Early on we see Natasha in disguise perusing the crowd until she sees a certain person and a memory flashes of presumably Natasha looking down a scope. This visual is used again later on in a rather cool layout slicing the page up into cubes save for circle sniper reticles. In another scene, we get a six-panel page with “earlier” on the left and “now” on the right. The use of color by Triona Farrell helps convey the change in time while telling us what happened that Black Widow is walking into. Later, in what might be the best double-page splash of the year, Mooney and Farrell deliver a fight sequence as you’ve never seen before. There’s fighting done in a style that’s reminiscent of a ballerina (for obvious reasons) and these shots are splashed in red running from the bottom left to the middle right. This is framed by Black Widow making an impressive kick and flashes of light behind blanketing her as she nearly avoids death. If you’ve read The Dead Hand you’ll be familiar with how good Mooney is at layering imagery in a collage that tells a story within the story. It’s an impressive double page that’s not to be missed.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
There is one minor scene that had me a tad confused. It involved something being displayed on a screen and it’s not immediately clear what it is and you need to read a character’s reaction to understand its intent. It took me a minute to gather what was happening given all the details that led up to it.
Another minor gripe is how Iron Man is drawn in two small panels. He looks great everywhere else, but in these two his helmet makes facial expressions that are stretching the believability of the moment. Since the art throughout is so detailed and realistic, this threw me off.
Is it good?
A good spy comic with thrilling action, revealing character work, and jaw-dropping visuals.
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