The latest issue of Black Widow comes as a turning point in the story of Natasha Romanoff and her fabricated, family-centered life. The illusion of normality has been shattered, as the team of villains conspiring against the super-spy finally attempt to take her out for good. Black Widow, however, is not easily beaten. Issue #4 of this series follows Romanoff as she attempts to save her “family” from her enemies, and consolidates old memories with the new.
Black Widow #4 begins with Romanoff going up against an entire team of Hydra agents in her own home. Thus, from the get-go, the direction of the narrative heavily relies on the strength of the art. It is good then that this series has Elena Casagrande as its main interior artist. The scenes, quite frankly are, phenomenal. Casagrande steals the show in this issue with her opening fight sequences alone. The art in Black Widow #4 perfectly captures how Romanoff’s swift brutality is executed with the grace of a ballerina.
The teaming of Casagrande with colorist Jordie Bellaire is a match made in heaven — the sophisticated color scheme adds to the practiced and determined resolution of the series’ leading character. Praise must also be given to Carlos Gómez and Fedrico Blee, whose flashback art is able to integrate itself naturally into the issue, whilst being distinct enough to stand out on its own.
Thompson’s script does more than enough to carry the emotion of this issue. Conversations always feel natural and organic under Thompson’s hand, and Black Widow #4 is no exception. Winter Soldier and Hawkeye make an appearance again in this issue and are as delightful as ever. Yelena’s deepening involvement in the story also has me excited to see the character in the upcoming Black Widow film. Indeed, it is the interactions and dynamics between its starring characters that make this series not only good, but great. Between this run, Mathew Rosenberg’s Hawkeye: Freefall, and Derek Landy’s Falcon and Winter Soldier book, 2020 has given me an enormous desire for an ongoing led by Widow, Hawkeye, Winter Soldier, Falcon, and Mockingbird.
My only criticism of this issue is one that applies to the entire series so far. Thompson’s decision to brainwash Romanoff, one of Marvel’s leading women, into leading a life of domesticity has continued to feel somewhat cliché in a very old-fashioned sense. In the wake of her breaking from this illusion, I was expecting some anger from the character. A feeling of injustice over the fact that she was taken from her profession and put into a sort of semi-conservative idealism. One includes a suburban home, a soon-to-be-husband, and a kid. But no. Instead, Natasha continues to have a spiritual loyalty to this pretend life. That said, this issue does not mark the end of this story. Its conclusion certainly suggests there are more twists and turns to come. Going forward, I hope there is at least some recognition of the gendered implications behind the plan made against her.
Black Widow #4 stands out as a masterpiece in artistic action, complete with an engaging script and compelling character dynamics. The only thing missing from this highly entertaining issue is a narrative recognition of its gendered implications.
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