Kelly Thompson and Elena Casagrande have kicked off Black Widow with the kind of espionage story that changes everything. The first issue was an exciting thriller that split between action and a mystery with a tantalizing twist. In the second issue, Natasha’s good friends Hawkeye and Winter Soldier are attempting to figure out why she’s run off to a new life, but what they find may be more shocking than they can comprehend.
Black Widow #2 opens with some good old fashioned spying. Perfect! Hawkeye and Winter Soldier are in the bushes of Natasha’s new home and are shocked to find her relaxed, in love with a strange man, and living a seemingly normal life. Thompson plays to the strengths of Hawkeye and Winter Soldier’s relationship as polar opposites. They’re both deadly serious about saving Natasha, but what if she doesn’t need saving? Soon, Hawkeye is breaking protocol and chatting with Natasha to the chagrin of Winter Soldier.
The core enjoyment of this book comes from the mystery, but also the characters and how they act. Natasha, for instance, is strangely calm which is counter to her usual behavior. Supporting characters all act and speak in a believable way, further enhancing the realism of what is going on. That’s important since much of what we’re seeing is normal life. It isn’t boring at all though since it’s quite clear something is going on and there’s an unease to it all. If you’re a fan of The Long Kiss Goodnight you’ll dig this narrative.
It’s not all domestic bliss though, as Casagrande brings the action and it’s fast-paced and spicy. That scene is extra exciting because of the low-key mystery going on. It’s also aided by most scenes moving along with a strange unease. We know Natasha is a superhero, but she doesn’t, and seeing her somewhat trapped in a domestic lifestyle makes the action spark to life.
Readers paying close attention will also notice cinematic elements, like ever-so-slight blur to draw your focus to a specific character, or to create a sense of depth. The latter detail can be seen in the opening pages as Hawkeye and Winter Soldier case-out Natasha’s home. There are two layers of branches in front of them, one light due to it being closer, and one dark in the shadows where they sit. It’s a cool effect that may not be immediately obvious but it adds a cinematic dynamic that’s unmistakable.
Of course, color artist Jordie Bellaire is adding to that dynamic and the light is unmistakably lifelike throughout. There’s even a cool glow of light on elements like windows and Hawkeye’s leather jacket as he walks into Natasha’s garage. Props also for coloring in Black Widow’s skin in her amazing lace dress.
The only fault one might find in this narrative is how it’s highly unlikely Hawkeye and Winter Soldier would think Natasha should be left alone. Sure, she seems happy, but the facts don’t add up nor does it make sense she’d forget them. It can’t be a happy accident. Readers don’t have a lot to go on, maybe too little of detail to get into the mystery just yet, but we have enough to know that some kind of mind control is going on.
Black Widow #2 is another great issue in a series that has injected new life into the character. The art feels cutting edge and the narrative is compelling. Black Widow is a cinematic feast for the eyes featuring a tantalizing mystery well worth untangling.