When Marvel Comics revealed Taskmaster and Yelena Belova were getting their own series, it was a fair assumption that they were meant to draw moviegoers who loved the Black Widow movie. Of course, that movie still hasn’t come out, but it’s quite clear Marvel Comics is moving forward with these series and so far Taskmaster has proven it’s well worth reading. This week, Devin Grayson and Michele Bandini take on Widowmakers, which features Russia’s best in an espionage series that has a clever and poignant twist.
Widowmakers: Red Guardian and Yelena Belova opens with super-spy Yelena Belova living an ordinary life in Russia until she acquires a job. Soon, she’s off to New York and sneaking her way into dangerous territory. A major highlight of this comic is how Grayson writes Belova, never skimping on her broken English and, by extension, the Russian accent you’ll read in her voice. Via captions and spoken words, we get an idea of who she is, but it never loses sight that she is a Russian and not American born. This distinguishes her and this book as one that is international. In fact, some of these captions are downright hard to understand without a reread or two to gather what it is Belova is saying. This in effect creates a unique nature to the character and her personality.
The premise is pretty clever, too. The hook of this book revolves around super-rich people who take advantage of others. I’ll say no more to avoid spoilers, but it’s a clever concept and it’s the kind of hero most have decried we need in modern times.
But wait, the title also shows Red Guardian! He’s in this book, although he’s given more of a quick introduction late in the story rather than having an active role. One might guess his design is meant to mimic David Harbour’s take from the Black Widow film, but of course, we’ve yet to see it fully outside of trailers. The character has a brusk nature that plays off Belova’s character well. Bandini does a great job with the costume and design of the character, giving him a larger look that seems closer to a regular person than a superhero. Erick Arciniega’s colors give the character’s spandex a shiny look that suits his brash nature, too.
Running a bit longer than most comics at 32 pages, Widowmakers #1 keeps your interest up, though it is mostly one long chase sequence. Like a good James Bond opener, there are plenty of twists and turns in the action along with a few surprises too. The opening and closing give a small taste of who Belova is, but plotting could have done a bit more to mix things up. Ultimately, you get just enough about Belova via the action and captioning, but she’s still a bit of a mystery by the end of the book.
Widowmakers: Red Guardian And Yelena Belova is a great action and espionage story with a killer premise. It’s a modern spy drama for modern times.
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